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I have a contractor, who is a programmer, that has successfully performed his duties in the short time and I'd like to receive feedback from him on our organization.

How do I prepare for such a meeting and what kinds of questions are okay to ask without being inappropriate?

  • I ask the question here which seemed more appropriate than at the other stackexchange sites: programmers.stackexchange.com/q/132657/1683 – Spoike Jan 31 '12 at 15:34
  • Nice move, @Spoike! – jcmeloni Jan 31 '12 at 17:20
  • I'm not sure if this is a "he left but we want him to stay" or a "contract was over and I just want his opinion" situation – SBWorks Feb 1 '12 at 2:23
  • I believe this was a "the contract was over and I just want an opinion" situation, based on the OP's comments when this was at Programmers SE. – jcmeloni Feb 1 '12 at 14:25
  • Just FYI, you should avoid asking the same question on multiple Stack Exchange sites. If you feel a question was asked in an appropriate site, we encourage you to flag the question and ask a moderator to move the question, and it's answers, to the target site. – jmort253 Feb 3 '12 at 19:53
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The purpose of an exit interview is to gather employees' feedback on the work experience in order to improve working conditions and retain employees (specially in organizations with a high turn around of personnel). This can be handled by the Functional Manager since it gathers non compromising information.

In other cases the exit interviews are focused on improving work productivity, providing an early warning about potential harassment, workplace violence and discrimination issues and measuring the success of diversity initiatives. These should be managed by neutral parties like Human Resources since some questions (and honest answers) may be really sensitive and not recorded.

There several sites that provides you with specific details and questions to conduct them depending on what you'd like to achieve; e.g. transfer of knowledge to other employees.

I have listed below few samples of the most common exit interview questions that we have usually asked in my organization to departing employees:

  • What is your primary reason for leaving?
  • Did anything trigger your decision to leave?
  • What was most satisfying about your job?
  • What was least satisfying about your job?
  • Did your job duties turn out to be as you expected?
  • Did you receive enough training to do your job effectively?
  • Did you receive sufficient feedback about your performance between merit reviews?
  • Did this company help you to fulfill your career goals?
  • What would you improve to make our workplace better?
  • Were you happy with your pay, benefits and other incentives?
  • What could your immediate supervisor do to improve his or her management style?
  • Did any company policies or procedures (or any other obstacles) make your job more difficult?
  • Did anyone in this company discriminate against you, harass you or cause hostile working conditions?

Since you are looking for a generic feedback you can conduct the interview using several generic questions related to the working environment and experience.

Finally, as David Espina has mentioned on his response, you should get an understanding on what you are allowed to ask since the rules may vary according to the organization's nature and policies. If you are not clear it's better to involve HR.

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You need to read the rules for your country that separate an independent contractor from an employee. Certain questions asked could blur those lines. I have no idea what the rules are in Sweden but in the U.S. not following those rules could result in rather stiff penalties.

Some questions can blur those lines, as I wrote above. The manner in which the contract between your organization and the contractor was administered is probably okay to ask, e.g., timely payments, scope verification and validation, other T&Cs, etc. Other questions about your organization, including his/her opinion of the state of the project on which he served, may be none of his/her business and his/her opinion should not be queried. In other words, limit the scope of your questions to those things to which he/she was a party.

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I am not sure about other countries but I am based in the UK and don't know of any laws that would prevent you asking a contractor the same questions as a permanent employee. Having said that in my experience you do not get the same response as a permanent employee so may not get what you are expecting. Contractors do not interact at companies in the same way as permanent employees. By that I mean, they tend to focus on the specifics of the work required by their contract and don't get involved in other aspects of the company like the future of the project or how well person X interacts with some other projects. These things matter for permanent employees as they have a vested interest in how well the company does in the future, for a contractor this is much less of a concern. This is one of the side benefits of contract employees - they tend to get involved in the office politics as much.

I would suggest focusing on questions related to the specific project they worked on or the people they worked with, e.g. how did you find the team dynamic, is there anything you could suggest that could be improved, what work is outstanding from your original scope, do you have any recommendations of improvements that should be made, how did you find working with team X?

Having said all this I am not sure you will get a huge value from these questions, especially if they have only been working at the company for a few weeks or months as they will not have enough background info to give an informed decision.

I do not have exit interviews with any of my contract employees.

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