As we reach the end of summer, conducting exit interviews with camp staff is a part of the end of summer routine. Just like sending a post camp survey to parents and campers is helpful for camp directors, so is staff feedback.
Exit interviews are a great way to gauge the staff’s experience, and learn valuable information about their time working for you. It’s also an important HR task that shouldn’t be overlooked.
The exit interview serves a few purposes:
If the staff member has the option or desire to return the following summer, you want to evaluate them now so you can know whether to consider them again.
Regardless of whether they return or not, the interview allows you to gain valuable insight from staff about their experience and take any feedback you receive into your planning and hiring for next summer.
As the director of the camp, you can’t be everywhere all the time. But, your staff is. This means they have really good insight, ideas, and comments about what worked at camp, but more importantly, what did not work. Talking to them will give you that insight and ability to get better for next year.
An exit interview provides valuable data that you can use to strengthen your camp and better train and prepare new hires going forward. It also can be a great resource for program changes, or to justify changes you have been thinking of making.
Remember that your staff is part of your brand, and represents your camp’s mission. You want to ensure you have the right people on board, and understand how to set up your staff for success!
Below are a few questions to get you started.
- If you could change one thing for next summer, what would it be and why?
- What was your favorite part about camp?
- What would you say your campers favorite part about camp was?
- Did you have a least favorite part about camp? What about your campers?
- In what ways did you feel I was supportive of your role? How can I support you better for next summer?
- If you could change or edit your role, what would you change?
- Name another staff member who you felt did a great job this summer. Why?
You’ll notice that these questions are a bit open-ended. That’s a good thing! You want to encourage conversation during the exit interview, and give good prompts to elicit details you might not otherwise get if you didn’t conduct a standard exit interview with staff.
If the staff member is leaving, and won’t return next summer, ask these questions:
1. Why are you leaving?
This might be obvious. If your staff is young, they are most likely moving on to another opportunity or graduating, etc. But in some cases, they might have an option to return but are choosing not to. Asking this question without pressure is a great way to understand, and grow.
2. Were you comfortable coming to me/higher camp staff with questions, concerns and problems?
You’ll notice this similar question is listed above framed as whether the staff member felt supported. By asking this in a different way for a staff member who won’t be returning, you might get a more honest answer since they aren’t expecting to be hired again and might be more comfortable sharing tips for improvement.
3. Do you feel you were given the training you needed to do your best work?
Another great question to get more details on the ways in which you are supporting your staff in their roles at camp.
4. Would you recommend us to another friend looking for a job at camp?
This is the ultimate question any business asks of a client, but should also ask of their staff. Would they recommend a friend to come work for you? Why or why not?
Giving the Exit Interview Online
In some cases, scheduling an exit interview in person isn’t feasible or isn’t something you are comfortable with doing. Maybe you have hundreds of staff, or maybe you’re more of a data person and want the results online and given anonymously.
While online survey tools or a Google Form can suit your purpose, your registration software is a great way to facilitate a post camp survey to staff. (It’s also a great way to manage staff applications for next summer!)
Below are some tips for facilitating an online exit interview.
- Decide if you want to give the survey anonymously or not. Then set up the form accordingly.
- Timing: Decide if you’d like to give the exit survey before camp is over or a few weeks after everyone has gone home. There are pros and cons to both options. The pro to having it done during camp is the staff is being paid for their time while completing it, which might mean more of them are inclined to spend some time on it. You also have them right there to complete it, whereas a few weeks after camp, you might not get a 100% response rate. However the end of camp might be stressful and staff hasn’t had a chance to reflect on the summer. In this case, waiting a few weeks might be good. It really depends on your staff and how you think you’ll get the best quality feedback.
- If you want to give the survey before camp is over, but don’t want to do so anonymously, you can choose to read answers only after camp is over and communicate this to your staff. This might take away some stress for staff associated with sharing any negative or critical feedback while still on the job.
- Make sure to ask a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions. Questions like “On a scale of 1-10” are great for running stats and measuring the health of your camp from a staff perspective. Numbers are also great for comparing year to year to see any trends. Qualitative questions will give you more “meat” to work with and gain real insight into how your staff did this past season.
Final Thoughts: Exit Interview Tips
In addition to preparing these questions above, keep in mind a few more things:
Decide how long you want your interviews to be and stick to that. This helps with scheduling them, and it’s good to set a firm standard for all staff regarding exit interviews.
Ensure you are creating a comfortable environment. You will be asking some tough questions. Questions like how you might have fallen short as their manager and how you can improve. It can be tough for camp counselors and other camp staff to feel comfortable sharing some negative comments with a superior. Acknowledge this and set the tone for honesty and no judgement.
Make sure you do this consistently for all staff, and every year. The data you receive is invaluable, but the consistency shows that you are serious about feedback. It also sets an expectation for staff that they should be thinking thoughtfully about their time over summer.
Good luck and have some great conversations!