Exit Interviews: Get it in Writing

Editor’s note: This is the second of two blogs in our series about exit interviews.

While most mangers and business owners know how important exit interviews are, CEO and CO-Founder of HR firm CERD Solutions Paul Edwards believes there are many misconceptions surrounding the topic.

In his DentistryIQ article “Exit stage left: Using exit interviews to support practice management,” Edwards writes that the exit interview form serves a variety of useful purposes:

  •  It’s the employee’s story at the time of departure. If they file any future complaint containing a new or conflicting story, it can be a valuable written record for you, in the employee’s own words.
  • It provides useful information to the manager and to the dentist. Ex-employees who are no longer worried about keeping their jobs may inform you of problems.
  • A departing employee may allude to improprieties or make direct accusations against the business or another employee. “TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY,” Edwards writes in all caps. “At the very least you need to investigate and record your actions, as well as anything you did to address or correct any issues uncovered.”

In order to get this information, managers feel like they need to sit down with the departing employee and have a face-to-face discussion, he writes, like they do in the movies.

But, he said, having an in-person meeting for an exit interview can easily turn into a disaster.

“Remember, in the movies, the HR person is not directly connected to the situation, so it’s a lot easier for them to be impartial and remain in control,” he writes. “But in the average dental practice, the terminated employee is someone you’ve known and worked with – and possibly exchanged angry words with – recently. This seriously impacts the likelihood of either side feeling cool and collected during the exit interview.”

Distributing the exit interview

Below, Edwards lists a few real-life scenarios of employees quitting and gives instructions on how to handle the exit interview and other housekeeping things.

If a termination or resignation occurs on-site:

  • Place a copy of the exit interview form in a self-addressed stamped envelope.
  • Include it as you hand the employee their final paycheck (do NOT withhold this).
  • Collect keys or company property if possible.
  • Let the employee know the business would appreciate it if they filled out and used the self-addressed stamped envelope to return the exit interview.
  • Do not allow them to sit in the office and fill it out.

If a termination occurs via walk-out or job abandonment:

  • · Mail an exit interview form, an self-addressed stamped envelope, and a typed request that the ex-employee fill out and return at their convenience.
  • · Send with the final paycheck or separately, but do NOT send the exit interview before the ex-employee has been paid all wages due.

It’s best to send the request to fill out the exit interview letter by certified mail in the following instances:

  • When an employee quits without reason
  • When an employee quits during a shouting match
  • If you suspect foul play of any kind
  • If you suspect that a complaint (valid or not) may be lodged by the employee.

Edwards writes that no matter how an unhappy, departing employee respond to his or her exit interview, you tried. 

“The fact that you took the time to ask speaks volumes for your willingness and need to know,” he writes. “This helps support the practice if any complaints should escalate. And if the ex-employee fails to return the form, you’ll have the record that you tried – valuable evidence of fair and consistent management.”



Katie Devereaux

Resume Coach and Blogger at Dental Temps Professional Services
Katie Devereaux is a writer and editor, who graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism. She has written for several publications in Florida, Alaska and Illinois.
Katie Devereaux

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About Katie Devereaux

Katie Devereaux is a writer and editor, who graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism. She has written for several publications in Florida, Alaska and Illinois.