Exit Interviews

Definition: What is an exit interview?

An exit interview is a final interview conducted with an employee who is leaving the organization. It aims to gather feedback on the employee’s overall experience, identify areas for improvement, and gain insights into the company’s culture, management styles, and processes.

Understanding exit interviews

Exit interviews are an essential part of the offboarding process for departing employees. They provide an opportunity for organizations to gain valuable insights, improve company performance, and enhance their brand as an employer. This complete guide explores what exit interviews are, why they’re important, when and how to conduct them effectively, and which exit interview questions you might want to consider when building your exit interview template.

Why do companies conduct exit interviews?

Exit interviews help companies gather feedback and insights from departing employees. By helping human resources (HR) teams identify and address any structural or cultural issues within the organization, exit interviews help improve employee retention rates and even employee engagement within the organization.

Why are exit interviews important?

One of the most important ways in which exit interviews differ from other employee research tools is that departing employees are often more willing to share their criticisms and concerns about structural or cultural problems in the organization. This offers valuable insights into the company’s culture, leadership, and potential problems.

Exit interviews are also the last chance to leave a positive impression on departing employees. Showing an openness to feedback, willingness to improve, and appreciation for their contributions can help create advocates for the organization—and garner positive employer ratings on job sites.

When should exit interviews be conducted?

The best time to schedule an exit interview is during the employee’s last few days at the company. It should occur after notice has been given and a job reference has been provided to ensure a reflective and objective discussion.

Should exit interviews occur in all cases?

Exit interviews should generally be conducted regardless of whether the employee resigned or was terminated. However, it’s important to consider the context and decide on a case-by-case basis if an exit interview makes sense, especially in situations where the relationship ended on bad terms.

Essential exit interview questions and template

When building an exit interview template for your organization, it’s important to find the right balance between the knowledge the organization hopes to gain and the right amount of time for the interview to be an engaging, positive experience for the departing employee.

Number of questions to ask in an exit interview

While there’s no perfect magic number of questions to ask in an exit interview, it’s important to cover key areas such as the reasons for leaving, impressions of the company, relationships with managers and colleagues, and suggestions for improvement.

The 20 best exit interview questions and sample answers

Here are 20 great exit interview questions to ask, along with tips on how to answer them in a way that feels both professional and constructive. If you’re the subject of an exit interview, it’s important to be honest, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to indulge in personal attacks or overt negativity. Focus on providing thoughtful suggestions and solutions rather than dwelling on the negative.

1. Why did you decide to leave the company?

Answer Tip: Be honest but constructive. Focus on personal growth or new opportunities rather than criticizing the organization.

2. Did you get along with your direct manager?

Answer Tip: Emphasize positive aspects of your relationship and highlight any areas of improvement that could have enhanced your experience.

3. Did you get along with your peers?

Answer Tip: Highlight positive relationships and teamwork, and mention any challenges you faced as well as how you addressed them professionally.

4. In general, what do you think about working at our company?

Answer Tip: Focus on the positive aspects of your experience and offer constructive suggestions for improvement in areas that you believe could be enhanced.

5. Is there anything we could have done to prevent you from leaving?

Answer Tip: Offer suggestions for improvement, such as better professional development opportunities or a clearer career path within the company.

6. What did you think of the way you were managed?

Answer Tip: Discuss the management style that worked best for you and give constructive feedback on areas where you felt there could have been improvement.

7. Did you receive frequent, constructive feedback from your manager?

Answer Tip: Describe any positive feedback you received and mention areas where you would have appreciated more specific and regular feedback.

8. What benefits or programs did you feel were missing from the organization?

Answer Tip: Suggest benefits or programs that you think could have enhanced the employee experience and overall satisfaction. If there were specific benefits or programs you especially appreciated, be sure to mention those too.

9. Were you recognized enough for your accomplishments?

Answer Tip: Mention any instances where you felt appreciated and recognized, and suggest ways in which recognition programs could be improved.

10. Did you think your responsibilities were clear?

Answer Tip: Discuss how you understood your responsibilities and provide feedback on areas where clarity could have been improved.

11. Did you know what was expected of you?

Answer Tip: Here, again, highlight instances where expectations were clear and discuss any areas where you felt unclear about your role and responsibilities.

12. Did you feel you had all the resources you needed to do your work here?

Answer Tip: Acknowledge the availability of resources that were helpful and mention any areas where you felt lacking resources impacted your work.

13. Did you receive enough training?

Answer Tip: Appreciate the training you received and discuss any areas where you believe additional or more effective training could have benefited you.

14. Did the role meet your expectations?

Answer Tip: Discuss aspects of the role that aligned with your expectations and mention areas where you felt the role could have been better suited to your skills and interests.

15. Did you have clear progression goals to work toward?

Answer Tip: Describe any clear progression goals you had and discuss any areas where you felt a lack of clear goals hindered your growth within the company.

16. What did you like about your work? Was it rewarding, challenging, or too easy?

Answer Tip: Highlight the aspects of your work that you found rewarding or challenging and discuss any areas where you felt the work could have been more engaging.

17. What are the biggest risks for our company?

Answer Tip: Offer insights based on your experience and industry knowledge, highlighting potential risks and providing suggestions for mitigation.

18. What advice would you like to give to your team?

Answer Tip: Share any advice or suggestions for improvement that you believe would benefit your former team, focusing on constructive feedback and positive solutions.

19. What would make this a better place to work?

Answer Tip: Offer suggestions for improving the work environment, such as better communication, more opportunities for growth, or increased work-life balance.

20. Would you ever consider working here again? Would you recommend others apply for a position here?

Answer Tip: Discuss the factors that would influence your decision to return or recommend the company, highlighting both positive aspects and areas for improvement.

Enhancing the exit interview process

To enhance the exit interview process and make it more effective, consider implementing the following strategies.

Guidelines for Exit Interview: Expectations and Suitable Responses (7 Tips)

By following these tips, you can effectively navigate an exit interview and provide valuable feedback that can contribute to the company’s improvement and maintain positive relationships.

  1. Be honest, but constructive: When answering questions in an exit interview, it’s important to be honest about your experiences and reasons for leaving. However, be mindful of your tone and provide constructive feedback that can help the company improve.
  2. Focus on the big picture: Reflect on your overall satisfaction with the job, including your relationship with management, job benefits, and career opportunities. Discuss how these factors influenced your decision to leave.
  3. Highlight what you enjoyed about the company: Share positive aspects of the company, such as the work environment, culture, and alignment of your work values with the company’s mission. Mention any major wins or positive moments you experienced with your team.
  4. Provide specific recommendations: Offer concrete suggestions for improvement to your former employer. This is an opportunity to voice your ideas on how scheduling, job responsibilities, or other aspects can be enhanced. Your recommendations can impact existing and future employees.
  5. Avoid immature comments: Refrain from making petty or immature comments about specific individuals or minor issues. Stay focused on providing meaningful and productive feedback that can benefit the company.
  6. Be humble about your new position: While it’s important to be honest about your new opportunity if it influenced your decision to leave, avoid excessively boasting about it. Instead, compare the two jobs and explain how your former company can improve to be as favorable as your new one.
  7. Maintain professionalism: Remember to remain professional throughout the exit interview. Avoid rude or offensive comments about colleagues or managers. Keep your language work-appropriate and consider the feelings of others. Your feedback should be honest, respectful, and focused on growth for both you and the company.

Next steps: Level up your exit interviews

To enhance the exit interview process, consider using specialized HR software to streamline offboarding, analyze feedback to identify trends, and implement changes based on exit interview insights. Modern intranet software makes the offboarding process easy to scale, even for enterprise-level organizations. Learn more how Simpplr can help in a 10-minute demo.

Is it possible to conduct exit interviews online?

Yes, it is possible to conduct exit interviews online. Conducting exit interviews online can be a highly beneficial option, especially in remote work settings or for globally distributed teams. Online exit interviews offer convenience and flexibility as they can be conducted remotely, eliminating the need for physical presence. This is particularly advantageous for companies with employees in different locations or those working remotely.

Additionally, conducting exit interviews online allows for more anonymity, which may encourage employees to provide honest and candid feedback. Video conferencing tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams can be used to facilitate virtual exit interviews, providing a face-to-face interaction that closely simulates an in-person interview.

Online surveys can also be utilized to gather feedback from employees who prefer a more anonymous approach. Overall, conducting exit interviews online can streamline the process and improve participation rates, leading to valuable insights for companies to enhance their employee experience and make data-driven decisions.

Exit interview tips: Eliminating exit interview mistakes

The following tips can help avoid some of the most common mistakes when conducting an exit interview.

Select the right person to conduct the interview

It’s important to make sure that someone neutral, preferably from HR, is conducting the exit interview to ensure an open and honest conversation.

Schedule the interview at the right time

It’s best to schedule exit interviews during the last few days of the employee’s tenure—but not 5 minutes before they’re out the door—being sure to provide a comfortable and confidential environment.

Concluding the employee exit interview

Remember to summarize and analyze the feedback obtained during all exit interviews to provide data-supported recommendations on how to improve—while maintaining the privacy of the former employee.

Utilize exit interviews for workplace enhancement

Exit interviews can be an important tool for continuous improvement, employee retention, and implementing the organization’s employee experience strategy. When performed well, organizations can use the insights gained from exit interviews to inform hiring, onboarding, and employee development strategies.

Get ahead of exit interviews with Simpplr

Exit interviews play a key role in understanding employee experiences, identifying areas for improvement, and enhancing your employer brand.

A modern intranet platform like Simpplr can help streamline the off-boarding process, much like Simpplr transforms the onboarding process into a personalized and engaging experience. However, rather than waiting until the exit interview, Simpplr allows HR leaders to capture data and insight in real-time within the intranet platform itself, uncovering valuable insights into employee sentiment and engagement. Learn how Simpplr can help you understand employee needs and improve the employee experience, or see for yourself in a 10-min demo video.