What is an exit interview? | Association of Anaesthetists

What is an exit interview?

What is an exit interview?

The concept of the ‘exit interview’ is well-known to large organisations throughout the world. It is usually performed as a final interview with a departing employee, often hosted by a line manager or HR representative. A good quality exit interview is designed and conducted for the benefit of the organisation. It seeks to improve company performance, enhance employee retention, keep existing talent, and make an advocate out of the departing employee. Strategically, they allow continual monitoring of the culture and temperature of an organisation, and provide large swathes of information from someone who likely has many deep reflections on their time of employment. They provide insights into inequity by creating an open dialogue with the departing individual. Finally, they are a last chance for leaving a good impression. If an organisation can show a willingness to reflect, accept criticism, and enthusiasm to improve by listening to those who do not thrive in it, it maintains a good reputation. Table 1.0 shows some examples of questions that might be asked at during one of these conversations.

Exit Interviews are not routinely performed or mandated by any formal medical specialty training pathways within the United Kingdom. The individuals we lose from formal training represent highly skilled, incredibly talented doctors who strived for a competitive position. The decision to leave training (whether to move to another specialty, work as a SAS doctor, or leave medicine altogether) is a significant one. The individual will therefore be a reservoir of reflections and analysis of the training programme they are departing, and why it perhaps did not work for them.

Example Exit Interview Questions  
The leaving employee The company The culture The environment The job itself  Forward-facing
What made you decide to leave? How do you feel about the company now? How would you describe the culture of the organisation? How satisfied were you with your work schedule? What part of the job did you like the most? What are the biggest risks for our organisation?
How was your relationship with your team, including your seniors? Would you ever consider returning to work for us? What aspects, if any, do you think we could change? Did you find your environment flexible to your needs? What sort of qualities should we look for in someone taking your job? What would make this a better place to work?
Is there anything we could have changed which might have meant you would stay?     What did you like most or least about the environment you worked in?   What advice would you give to others in your team?

Reflecting as a specialty

While we know that full pay restoration and workplace conditions are basic necessities to retention, it is also true that our current training infrastructure could be improved. In years gone by, the pay, accommodation and ‘firm’ structure of a job meant that there was inherent support and resource included to tackle the challenges of training. This is now not so. As a result, it means that the ‘cost’ of training (both personal and financial) have likely increased. The inherent rigidity of much of the training pathway therefore means that many cannot thrive within it. This is of particular importance when thinking of equity and diversity of our future workforce.

Anaesthesia regularly shows itself as a reflective specialty. Our National Audit Projects exemplify the coming together of our professional workforce in order to answer big questions on our clinical practice and the standard of care we provide our patients. It is important to apply this reflectivity to that of the training experience we provide. Almost a third of anaesthetists in training plan on leaving the NHS within the coming years. SAS and LED doctors are now becoming the fastest growing registered group with the GMC. How can we retain the exceptional talent we regularly lose along the way? How can we modernise our training pathway for the anaesthetist of the future?

Watch our Exit Interviews to find out more. 

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