As a human resources professional, conducting an exit interview is supposed to be a time for your former employee to be open and honest about their experience of their time at your company. You will then ideally use that information to either fix the things that might not be working, or continue to do what you do. But unfortunately, that’s not always what happens when an employee leaves. Instead, they are advised to put on a happy face to maintain good relations with the employer. This makes sense for exiting employees, but that’s not very helpful from an HR perspective.

Criticism falling on deaf ears and blind eyes
Liz Ryan, Founder and CEO of Human Workplace explained that unfortunately, sometimes exit interviews are the only time organizations want to hear what you have to say. But this may be there reason why so many employees decide to leave their jobs. That being said, how can you get employees to give you the information you need to effectively help your company?

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind while you conduct an effective exit interview:

1. Promise confidentiality
It’s the very least you can do. If you really want to know the reasons you employees are leaving you’ll want them to be honest. But with employees fearing that their reputations will be besmirched or burn bridges if they try to tell the truth it’s hard to get honesty from them, said Cornerstone On Demand’s blog Rework. And you need to be a company of your word. You can absolutely remain confidential and still use their responses for data in order to help your company by generalizing the answers in specific categories.

2. Outsource the interview
Try HR outsourcing companies to get honest answers from employees. These companies have trained professionals who are skilled in getting the answers and data you need to make your company work.

3. Have the right questions prepared
Rework explained that you should start with the basic questions. These inquiries should involve salary changes, their new title and if they’re being promoted, the industry they’re moving to, and then their feelings on company policies like PTO or flexible schedules. These questions will give you a great deal of insight into your own company. For example, if they’re staying in the same industry but not accepting a higher position, they’re most likely leaving because they’re unhappy with your company. But if they leave for a different industry, this just wasn’t the job for them.

4. Don’t wait for them to exit to interview
Overall, you really need to be proactive about hearing what your employees have to say about your company. If they aren’t being heard when changes need to be made, why would they stick around? Instead, Ryan said that it’s important to do periodic check-ins with employees to see what the company can improve on.