Q: I recently left a company and was not given an exit interview. I know others were given one. Is it too late to request one, after I have left the company? What is the typical protocol? Is an exit interview legally required?
A: Many companies conduct exit interviews with employees who have resigned. It is not a legal requirement to do so. Employers can learn quite a bit from an employee leaving the organization. Was their job properly represented by the job description? Did the employee feel supported? Was their supervisor fair and reasonable? Did the employee have the tools and equipment needed to do their job well? Were the benefits adequate? Was the work environment positive? Would the employee refer a friend to work at this employer? Would the employee ever consider working for this employer again? What was their reason for leaving? Did they feel appropriately compensated?
Some companies have a systematic process for collecting data on reasons for leaving. Some companies analyze data regarding turnover. Is there one manager who is unable to retain employees? Are employees working excessive hours? Or is there one area where employees are leaving for improved compensation opportunities at a competitor?
An exit interview also provides an opportunity to discuss what happens with benefits upon separation. Usually the final paycheck is also discussed. A company representative will often collect keys, company IDs, access cards and computers or laptops on the last day of employment.
Departing employees may also be willing to share candid suggestions for improvement. Ideally, a company hopes that an exiting employee will share a positive experience with others. Their message can be help build a firm’s reputation.
The typical protocol is once you have given your written notice of resignation, a company representative contacts you to schedule an exit interview. Usually an exit interview occurs face-to-face, but not always. It usually is scheduled close to the employee’s last day of employment. I have conducted exit interviews after the employee’s last day of employment, though it is usually over the phone and not face-to-face. I think it is acceptable to request one.
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.