who does Exit Interviews ?

Specialties Management


  • by mdfog10
    Specializes in Med-Surg.

I am a long time staff nurse on a med-surg unit. I would like to know how many of you do Nurse Exit Interviews. Is it done on a unit level or hospital level (ie. human resources)?

It just seems that upper management has a blind eye regarding retention and turnover costs.

thank you,



325 Posts

Exit interviews should be performed 100% and quarterly statistics developed to determine top reasons individuals leave an organisation. Those reasons should be the foundation for retention strategies going forward.

I have always had a relatively neutral party( ie, an HR rep or even a recruiter) perform the exit with a pre-written script of questions. When a direct supervisor performs the exit, the departing employee will not be as candid in his/her responses, especially about issues related to management style or supervision.

Exit interviews are good in the ideal world, but never seem to get done in the real world. Most facilities know why staff leaves, if there are other problems, they know about that too. I do not think most nurses are honest when they leave a job, they just give notice and move on. :chair:


355 Posts

My exit interview was performed by a company hired by my former employer. When I told the rep exactly what happened she told me "they are a bunch of idiots, I hope you hire a good lawyer." I did.

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

I, too, am not so gung-ho about exit interviews. The data collected are usually of pretty poor quality. Even if "an objective 3rd" party does them, people frequently do not give the real reasons for leaving -- which are often so complex that they don't fit into any neat and tidy categories. And if an employer treats their employees badly and that's why people leave, the employer probably already knows that. In other words, those interviews rarely yield information that is both significant and new.

That said ... I do think they should be done. It's just that the results need to be taken with a big grain of salt. I prefer the turnover data I get that includes the "unofficial" reason for a person's leaving. I ask the managers to keep track of the rumors and past comments of the person leaving. What problems was she having? What did she ask for? Was she looking for a better schedule? Did she hate nights? Was she looking for more money? Was she having child-care problems? ... etc. in addition to whatever "official" reasons for leaving she might state in her resignation ... and in addition to whatever she might say to someone from HR in an exit interview.

I think I get a better handle on the true situation by looking at the turnover issue from multiple perspectives (and with multiple sources of information) than by any one method alone.

As for the original question, "Who does them?" ... it depends on the institution. In some places it is done at the unit level. In some, it is done by HR. Other hospitals employ an outside agency who does them by phone after the employee has left.



14,633 Posts

I have seen most all the possibilities -- no exit interview offered, interview done by a "neutral" 3rd party like HR director, interview done by direct supervisor (I consider those really worthless), interviews done by both HR and direct supervisor, and (once, at a large VA medical center) interview done by the DON of the entire medical center herself.

Although I agree with llg (as usual :) ) about the validity of much of the data, I have observed in most of the places that I've worked that the HR people and upper management (at least) seemed truly sincere about wanting to get good, specific, valid info. It's not their fault if people just aren't willing to give it to them! :) There is always a great (valid) concern on the part of departing employees about "burning bridges." The last job I resigned, I left at the same time as my partner/teammate of four years. We both had the same complaints and were leaving for exactly the same reasons, but I know that the other person, in her interview, did not bring up any of those issues and went with the "safe" answers, because she didnn't want to "burn any bridges -- just like the previous five people who had all left our small department for the exact same reasons ... (I told them exactly what I had observed and really thought, not that I believe that, in that particular case, it would make a d***** bit of difference.)

In my experience with the VA, where the DON ("Chief Nurse" in the VA system) did the interview, I had been working on a known "problem" unit, and upper management was really looking for solid info -- and I told them the truth; not "I don't like the NM," but concrete, specific examples of actions of the NM that I felt affected not just my experience of working there, but also affected patient care ... Shortly after I resigned, the NM got demoted and transferred to another area of the medical center, not because it was such a big crisis that I left, but because I was the "final straw" in a series of people who had had serious problems with this NM, and management had some "hard data" to follow up on and use to justify demoting her. So, see? -- sometimes the exit interview process really does produce meaningful results. But it takes two to tango -- both the facility and the staff have to participate honestly in the process.


356 Posts

We have HR do them. Staff seem to find it easier to talk to non-nursing staff. It is a terrific idea and has given us lots of good info, along with some irrelevant stuff.

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