Exit interviews can provide management with insights that prevent future turnover, notes Lauren Weber in the Wall Street Journal. But the key to mining the exit interview for those insights is asking the right question.

That one question, Sharlyn Lauby, president of the HR consulting firm ITM Group, tells Weber, is not the standard "Why are you leaving?" but rather, "What made you start looking for another job in the first place?"

"By finding out what spurred valued staffers to look elsewhere," Weber writes, "managers can get to the real reasons employees feel disengaged or unhappy. Revelations about bad bosses or other organizational dysfunction--both topics that workers are discouraged to bring up in exit conversations so as not to burn bridges--may emerge in the process of recounting why the workers agreed to take that call from a recruiter or clicked on a link to a job posted by a friend on Facebook or Twitter.

"Such insights could lead a company to take meaningful action, such as offering more management training or addressing other problems driving workers away."