It’s not you, it’s me… how to conduct an exit interview

When a valued employee hands in their resignation, feeling disappointment is totally normal.

But should you let this stop you from ensuring a smooth exit and ongoing relationship for you and your employee?

Absolutely not! After all, an employee, whether current or ex, can have the potential to be a walking advertisement and advocate for you and your firm.

Exit interviews can be a valuable professional exercise for both you and the departing employee as it forces you both to think critically about your experiences and their time in the practice, and to take on any constructive learnings as a result of that engagement.

The process of a smooth exit occurs from the moment the resignation notice is handed in or emailed through. Honesty is always the best policy and sharing how you feel shows the employee you cared, but also opens an opportunity to consider whether you wish to keep them, discuss how this could occur or understand what their decision-making process was and what can be learned from it.

Holding an exit interview is not a requirement of your HR processes. We do highly encourage you to offer them. They also don’t have to be held in a formal format and can be done in a manner as simple as a survey.


It is the right of the departing employee to decline the exit interview and they may also choose to not answer all of the questions asked. It is their prerogative.

Some of the following questions might be considered in an exit interview survey:

  • Why are you leaving?
  • What were the best and worst parts of your job?
  • How happy were you with the environment?
  • What are your thoughts on your salary, our benefits, perks, time off, the office environment, flexibility etc.?
  • How do you feel about your managers or supervisors and your interactions with them?
  • How do you feel about the support/training/feedback you received?
  • How do you feel about your relationship with your co-workers?
  • What recommendations do you have for the firm on how to improve?
  • Would you recommend this firm/employer to others? Why or why not?

Establishing boundaries and respecting these are key to your employee being honest with you in the exit interview process.

If the employee asks for confidentiality then that is to be respected, however if there is feedback you feel could be used to create positive change then you can also ask the employee to say they are happy with their generalised feedback to be used post interview.

We encourage you to lead by example and be conscious of your emotions during this time, and also how you conduct the sharing of the information with your broader team and to also be respectful of the information given to you by the departing employee around the reasoning.

If you would like a review of your management and HR systems, the Practice Advisory Service (PAS) is a confidential complimentary service to members offered by the Queensland Law Society Ethics and Practice Centre. Its consultants help you reality-test your ideas and innovations, provide strategies to anticipate or overcome practice hurdles and help you achieve your goals.


PAS solicitors have years of experience running their own practices and are able to provide guidance in essential areas such as appropriate management systems for incorporated legal practices, legal project management, records management, costs disclosure, client agreements, and practice management generally.

Submit an expression of interest for a consultation with a Practice Advisory Service solicitor today.

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