Archives for human resources

Exit Interviews: 6 Questions to Gain the Utmost Value From Lost Talent


I help talent leave. For many of them, change is hard. It inconveniences them, disrupts their rhythms, and makes them feel very uncomfortable and uncertain, even if it excites them at the same time. By the time people come to me to help them, they are usually in pain. Sometimes it’s even physical.

Most people will try everything else before they actually follow through with any plans to leave, unless they are getting tapped by recruiters who wave more money and better conditions and growth opportunities at them.

Resignation – a great word that describes both the state of mind of people who decide that there are few to no options left, and the act of leaving a job itself.

According to CultureAmp data, the top reasons talent leaves a company are lack of growth opportunities, poor leadership, and poor managers, in that order. Sometimes the managers or leaders get blamed for a poor or non-existent talent development system.

There is more loss to talent resignation than just losing a single person, their skill, their intelligence, and their experience. I speak about that here. The bleeding can be profuse.

The best way to control the bleeding, if you can’t stop it, is to conduct, or have a 3rd party conduct, exit interviews.

I asked the Quora community what they would tell their former boss if they could be sure there would be no negative consequences. One person answered and another upvoted that they wouldn’t burn a bridge by giving them negative feedback. Yes, the question was specific about their being no negative consequences, but it just goes to show that some people will still fear consequences, even if you tell them there are none. For this reason, you may want to engage a firm like Epic Careering to procure more truthful feedback.

If you want to keep the feedback coming and truly prevent future losses of talent, don’t punish employees and former employees with negative references or diminished separation packages. In fact, go the other direction.

Offer any separated talent an incentive to provide comprehensive feedback via an exit interview. A moral incentive is that their leaving is not in vein and it will serve the people they have to leave behind. Many of my clients’ driving reason for staying in a job so long is because of the people they feel they may now screw over by leaving.

A monetary incentive may be more effective, but you have to make sure people don’t feel paid off for a positive review. It may even be better for the monetary incentive to come from the 3rd party in the way of a $100 gift card, much the way surveys and studies do it.

If you decide to conduct your own, even if through your company’s human resources department, here are primary questions to ask:

  1. What could the company or your manager have done differently to prevent you from wanting to leave?
  2. Did you confront your manager about your reasons for wanting to leave prior to making the decision, and, if not, why not?
  3. What do you think the company and its leaders can do to make X a better company to work for?
  4. Would you refer a friend or family member to this company as either a customer or employee? If so, why, and if not, why not?
  5. Is there anyone you would like to recommend to fill your position? Please provide their name, contact information and why you feel they would be a good fit.
  6. What was the best part of working for this company?

Exit interviews aren’t the only way to uncover why the company is losing talent so that an effective solution can be identified. Glassdoor is another way, but by the time the information is out there, it’s for the whole world to see.

If someone really feels strongly about their experience, good or bad this may or may not prevent them from going straight to Glassdoor with their rating. However, giving them this outlet may prevent those who would use Glassdoor simply to help leaders learn a lesson for the sake of all who remain and all who may consider employment.

If you don’t currently have a way for employees to share their feedback while still on the job, you are probably guessing how to keep your employees. Some companies guess wrong and think that benefits are going to keep employees around.

This is what we refer to as “golden handcuffs.” They may keep employees around longer than they would, but they don’t keep employees engaged. Engagement surveys can help you assess this, but not all are created equally, and still, if they are conducted internally, as I share in the video I mentioned above, the honesty a company needs to prevent future losses of talent can be muted. Delegate to a 3rd party firm like Epic Careering.

Pet Shop Boys – What have I done to deserve this?

Lyrics You always wanted a lover I only wanted a job I’ve always worked for my living How’m I gonna get through? How’m I gonna get through? I come here looking for money (Got to have it) and end up leaving with love Now you’ve left me with nothing (Can’t take it) How’m I gonna get through?

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (, is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, will be an Associate Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department in 2019,  and is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.

Who would you rather hire: the undependable one or the incompetent one?

Photo courtesy of Ryan Dickey.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Dickey.

Here’s some food for thought: If faced with a choice between an undependable and an incompetent employee, who would you rather hire? Let’s be clear, no one wants to willingly hire an undependable or incompetent employee. These types of workers can be toxic to employee moral and productivity. Like a nuclear wasteland, you ideally want to stay far away from this hiring situation. In a perfect world, hiring such people would be a rare occurrence, but reality is rarely so cut and dry. In fact, reality can be quite strange. In 2010 an English recruitment agency boss was told posting an ad for “reliable” applicants could be offensive to unreliable people. Most managers will not face such an extreme situation in the hiring process, thankfully. It is still inevitable that an undependable or incompetent person will slip through the hiring process. Let’s assume you have two employees and you need to hire one of them, despite knowing their issues in advance.

An undependable worker may be an employee who is constantly late, may not show up for work on certain days or is a habitual procrastinator. When they are around, they do their job well and may be quite talented. For example, your company’s accountant may be brilliant with finances, but they make take every other Friday off. Or you may have a social media specialist who is always a half hour late for work. Projects may not be directly impacted, but your more reliable employees may have to work harder in the morning until she arrives.

Undependable workers, especially those who are talented, can be managed. Clear expectations, boundaries and rules are the first step in dealing with an undependable person. Going back to my second example, if your social media specialist has been getting away with constant tardiness, boundaries need to be set. Unreliable employees need to be reminded that their behavior affects the company as a whole. Unless you address the issue, a problematic employee may not see their actions as harmful. If you dig deeper you may even find an underlying reason for their unreliability. Family members may be ill or there may have been a recent lifestyle change in the undependable’s life. Addressing these issues may be as simple as a change of hours, designated coverage for temporary problems, or giving the employee the option to telecommute.

An incompetent employee may present more of a challenge. He or she may have the best of intentions, but constantly makes mistakes while doing the job. They may be eager to please, and may give you the impression they fully understand the task at hand. Despite their hard work, the level of quality is still subpar or the job is done incorrectly. One pertinent example comes to mind. I was once told by a good friend about a part-time mechanic who worked on the truck fleet for a large shipping company. He attempted to fix a broken truck bumper with a forklift (not an uncommon practice). Instead, he made the problem much worse when he accidentally pierced the grill and radiator with the forklift. This was just one incident in a long string of problems stemming from incompetency. The mechanic was ultimately given the simpler task of working on brakes for large trailers.

This anecdote leads me directly to my next point, managing an incompetent person. Once again, clear boundaries and expectations will need to be set. Unlike the undependable employee, the incompetent employee might be willing to improve. An underperforming employee should be reminded of their strengths, while their areas of weakness are defined. Perhaps a particular job task wasn’t explained well enough or the employee is afraid to admit they lack proper training. If an incompetent employee still doesn’t “get it” after explanations and training, they may need to be reassigned to a position that matches their skill level, if possible.

In our theoretical hiring situation, we have the undependable worker versus the incompetent worker. Both problem employees have their potential solutions. One person may perform their job just fine, but may require more flexible hours, while another person may need to be retrained or reassigned. If you look at the situation from a resources viewpoint, the undependable worker is a better choice. You won’t have to expend time and energy retraining or reassigning them because they know how to do their job. If time and energy aren’t a major issue, and the attitude of the incompetent employee fits your company culture, they may be a better choice.

So, who would you hire?

Joe Purdy – Can’t Get It Right Today

Joe Purdy – Can’t get it right today Enjoy!

HR professionals surveyed

Mobile Games - Bejeweled by on Flickr

Mobile Games – Bejeweled by on Flickr

I spoke last week at the GVFHRA HR Summit on Gamification in Mobile Recruiting at Penn State Great Valley.  I took the opportunity to gather some intelligence that will be helpful to understand the implications of and barriers to adoption of gamified mobile recruiting. This blog is dedicated to sharing this data.

37 attendees (the classroom’s maximum capacity)


Everyone would rather have their recruiters out amongst people actively recruiting than sorting through online submissions.

Four attendees had said that their organizations had explored gamification for either recruiting or training. One attendee said that her company had been evaluating it for 10 years, but due to compliance, cost and development concerns, no decision had been made yet. Another attendee pointed out that the companies who have implemented gamification for training will be able to provide others who aim to implement it for recruiting with a lot of insights on both being successful AND avoiding failures.

How many applicants per job: 75-100 average, which is in alignment with national averages and how many depends on level of the position.


When the group was asked, who was the most elusive demographic or candidate type, no one answered. One attendee did voice the concerns of the whole – While “demographic” is a common term when it comes to marketing, which was discussed as a function of recruiting, it is illegal to profile candidates who are of a particular age, gender, race or health status.  For the sake of ongoing reflection of how using a mobile game to attract talent, we defined demographic as a profile of a candidate with particular behaviors, interests and qualities, regardless of age, race, gender or health status.


We also clarified that during strategic planning, a human resource organization would determine the general skill level of candidate for which they will want to build a pipeline, and that would influence whether a mobile game would be a good investment and critical component of a human capital planning strategy.


A lawyer who spoke in a later session brought up an issue with using Facebook during the qualification process, as more may be revealed about a candidate than you should know prior to giving that candidate a fair assessment. This insight will most likely influence which social media sites are accessed at various junctures in the recruiting cycle in the standardization of recruiting workflow in an internal mobile recruiting game.


All but two people were using LinkedIn groups to as a talent community to source skills needed ongoingly. Other talent communities mentioned by Joe Stubblebine of (founder of, who attended this session as well as spoke in the next session on social recruiting, included GitHub and Stackoverflow (a forum for programmers) as alternate talent communities.


Most were in general agreement that the metrics that their organization uses to measure recruiting performance were 70-85% accurate.


Only one attendee knew her organization’s cost-per-hire off the top of her head, and stated that it was $35,000-$40,000. Five attendees knew that this data was available to them, but they did not know if off of the top of their head. This seemed shockingly high, as a survey of average cost per hire conducted in 2010 by Bersin & Associates found that the average cost per hire for all U.S. companies was $3,479, though companies with 10,000 employees or more averaged $1,949.