• October 02, 2020
  • Interview

Whenever an employee gives us that dreaded ‘resignation letter’ we tend to go through an emotional roller coaster. Although the exact sequence of emotions will vary from person to person and from situation to situation, there seems to be a fair amount of commonality to generalize the event as follows:

  1. Shock: I didn’t expect this
  2. Disbelief: I can’t believe this
  3. Anger: I’m going to make him pay
  4. Betrayed: After all I did for him, is this how I get paid back?
  5. Loss: My investment in this person is now sunk
  6. Acceptance: What’s done is done
  7. Reversal: Can we convince him to stay still?
  8. Soul searching: What made him leave besides a better opportunity elsewhere?
  9. Enquiry: What if we asked him directly why he is leaving really?
  10. Move on: To leave the position vacant or to replace it; to replace it from within or from outside

Nobody likes to be rejected

In the dating world, yes that of romance, there are two ways to get rid of a wrong girlfriend or boyfriend. Either you say, “I break up” or you create such an environment that the other person is forced to say, “I quit”.  No matter how bad the relationship was, breakups are never pleasant. 

The point of bringing in the parallel of romance here, is that before we ran organizations as species, we needed to find and retain mates. In order to understand the emotional aspect of getting a resignation letter, we must first understand where the feeling is coming from. 

Say, someone has been dating for two years thinking it will turn into a marriage with 50th anniversary, then the other one, sends a resignation letter with effect from next month. 

Disillusionment is what happens. Sometimes the sense of betrayal is so high, that suicide is a common way out, if not a life-long mistrust towards the opposite sex. 

Logical solution

The point we are trying to drive here is that if there was not much emotions involved, the best thing to do would be to conduct an “exit interview” with that person and ask:

  • What made you want to leave?
  • What facilities are you getting elsewhere that you are not getting here?
  • Without being biased, and to the most sensible level you can be, can you tell what I can improve on for the next time?

Prerequisite for Exit interview

Yes, you got the point. After the resignation letter, the logical thing to do is to conduct an ‘exit interview’ but if we are emotionally bound like in a romantic affair, then we cannot even think of it: like in the above hilarious situation of one lover asking those questions to his estranged lover.  

First and foremost we must change our mindset that employees are forever, or that they will keep their commitments spoken during the interview. Only in this state of detachment can we do the right thing when that ‘resignation letter’ drops in our inbox. 

Importance of conducting Exit Interview in an organization

  • To resolve any future conflicts and smoothing over any conflict with co-workers or manager
  • To learn whether their pay is competitive 
  • Helpful in guarding against potential lawsuits and reducing problems in the workforce

Ground rules of exit interview

  • The privacy of response must be maintained
  • It should be at the convenience of the outgoing staff
  • Anything told, beit positive or negative, must be regarded as honest feedback
  • Preferably any query by the staff like salary due, legalities should be excluded during the exit interview and instead directed to the proper person in the organization


Many times doing the right thing is the hardest thing. Most employers get hung on level the lower five emotions discussed above like loss, betrayal, anger, disbelief and shock when handed over the resignation letter. Do not get too attached to any employee. Once they leave you, do the logical thing: conduct an exit interview; if not by you, by a trusted person. 

Authors: Mohan Ojha & Manohar Man Shrestha