20 Best Exit Interview Questions to Ask for Valuable Employee Insights

exit-interview-questions
20 Best Exit Interview Questions to Ask for Valuable Employee Insights

Whether employees are getting off the company express, it’s in your interests to make the process as smooth as possible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a little curious too. 

Exit interview questions during the offboarding process are a great way to uncover the factors that have led to an employee’s departure, which are crucial for indicating key areas for improvement, thus helping the organization improve employee management and well-being and ultimately company success.

This is why it’s imperative that HR know, not just how to announce the departure of an employee, but also how to capitalize on the opportunity that exit interview questions give. For this reason, the following article is written especially for HR looking for ways to improve their organization, let’s dive right in.

What is an Exit Interview?

An exit interview is an interview conducted when an employee is about to leave a company. Though optional, exit interviews are a great way to gather information about the reasons for employee departure, which could be anything from company experience and (dis)satisfaction with salary and benefits, to the leadership and organizational culture. 

Exit interviews usually feature no more than 10 questions to ask within an interview lasting no longer than one hour, if that. Exit interview questions are also most commonly asked by a member of the HR department in face-to-face exit interviews, but interview settings depend entirely on company work settings and individual needs.  

For example, where traditional brick and mortar institutions may feel more comfortable with holding in-person discussions, remote-based companies may choose instead to hold virtual interviews or use online surveys like Typeform, SurveyMonkey, or Google forms to ask exit interview questions.

Why are Exit Interviews Important?

exit-interview-questions

Now that we’ve established the what and when about exit interview questions, it’s time to share the four most significant reasons why it’s so important to have exit interview questions to ask:

Insights for Continuous Improvement

Exit interview questions offer the perfect opportunity for employers to gather information about areas for improvement, such as the company work environment, company organizational structure, and company culture. 

This is often helped by the fact that employees in exit interviews often provide brutally honest - and, in many cases, unfiltered - feedback, thus helping companies to realize what is/isn’t working and to continuously improve. 

Employee Engagement and Retention

Knowing the ins and outs of why an employee is leaving your company can help to improve both current employment engagement and future employee retention strategies

This is because common causes of departure, like toxic work culture and unsatisfying compensation and benefits packages, are likely to be felt by more than just one employee. By getting wind of the discomfort through exit interview questions, employers can ensure that employees feel better looked after, compensated for their efforts, and keen to stay on.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

The brutal honesty that is often provided through exit interview questions can be extremely important in addressing legal and ethical issues. Whether employees share concerns of failure to abide by legal regulations or voice harassment complaints in the workplace, there are many crucial insights to glean from exit interviews that can shine a light on legal and ethical concerns within the organization.

Company Reputation Management

It’s a little bit trickier when it’s a disgruntled employee leaving the team, but having the right exit interview questions to ask can still act as a form of company reputation management. 

When HR interviewers convey empathy for departure reasons that relate directly to the company and ask for constructive feedback through these questions, it contributes to a reduction of the employee leaving with a vendetta against the company and a negative reputation to share. 

20 Best Exit Interview Questions

In this section, we’ll share with you a sort of exit interview template of possible questions to ask, from broader perspectives of the company to more job-specific queries. While not an exhaustive list, the following exit interview questions are still some of the best to ask departing employees.  

1. What prompted you to look for a new job?

This is a direct exit interview question that provides insight into the main reasons for employee departure. It’s a no-brainer that this will bring tremendous benefits to an employer, explicitly identifying potential issues within the organization. 

2. How would you describe your overall experience working here?

This question is asking about employee experience, which is key to gaining a glimpse of what  the working environment for your now ex-employee was like. In other words, this offers an understanding of any management, organizational, or job-specific issues that could have impacted employee satisfaction. 

3. What aspects of your job did you find most satisfying?

This exit interview question faces head on the factor of job satisfaction in determining what is making an employee choose to leave, clearly benefiting the organization by identifying areas for improvement.

4. Were there any specific challenges or obstacles you faced in your role?

Having a good few exit interview questions that focus on employee experience, like this one, give organizations an idea on where employee support is lacking, thus identifying areas for improvement.  

5. How would you rate the effectiveness of your immediate supervisor?

Perfect for evaluating the impact of management and work environment on reasons for employee departure, this question enables the organization to realize whether the behavior of supervisors needs to be addressed or re-evaluated. 

6. Were there clear expectations set for your role, and were they communicated effectively?

This exit interview question directly addresses the competence of the employee’s manager, should they have one, without explicitly mentioning the M-word. It’s therefore more likely that HR will get an insightful recount of the role, rather than an anger-fuelled tirade, which of course is helpful to the organization for identifying areas of strength and improvement. 

7. How would you describe the team culture within your department?

This is a good exit interview question because it will let you know if the employee meshed in well with the team, but also if the culture in question has faults. Regardless of the answer, this can be a nod to the organization to improve their onboarding process, managerial culture, or work culture, or all three.

8. Were there any issues or conflicts with colleagues that impacted your experience?

Even just one bad egg can impact a great number of people. Inquiring about issues and conflicts with colleagues is a good way to understand what office politics may be at play and their impact on employee performance and satisfaction, both of which directly impact the organization.

9. Did you feel adequately trained for your role?

Asking about adequate training is a great exit interview question that indicates the success of the onboarding process AND managerial assistance. For companies, this is a good way to determine if the company played a direct role in causing the employee’s departure, indicating that training may need to be revamped.

10. Were there opportunities for professional growth and development?

Growth and development are significant motivators for employees; when not offered, people may look for other organizations. It is therefore important that HR asks this question for two reasons: to determine if this is a common problem in the company (matching it with other exit interview data), and if current growth opportunities are effective or not.

11. How would you rate the company's support for work-life balance?

The prequel to the following question, this exit interview question addresses whether the employee even felt the existence of a work-life balance in their role and if work-life balance options may be needed to address these issues.

12. Were there any factors that negatively affected your work-life balance?

For employers that prioritize work-life balance options such as remote work and flexible schedules, this is a key exit interview question to ask to ensure these options are still supportive. This question, therefore, identifies any issues with work that could be minimizing the effectiveness of these options and the company culture as a whole.

13. Were you satisfied with your compensation and benefits package?

Specialists and technical employees often leave a company to find better compensation and benefits. Asking this specific exit interview question can therefore serve as an indicator to whether the company needs to rethink its pay and benefits packages. 

14. Were there any issues or concerns related to your compensation?

This is a particularly good question for managers deciding to leave your company, as answers will provide actionable insights on how to prevent further managers departing to seek better compensation elsewhere. 

15. How would you describe the overall organizational culture?

Where other exit interview questions cover organization of the job, this addresses the organization as a whole. From this, companies can get a good idea of how their structure, mission, vision, values, and culture have trickled down and to what extent is working effectively.

16. Did you feel aligned with the company's values and mission?

Employees sometimes choose an organization because they feel aligned with the company’s values and mission. Asking this exit interview question can therefore determine whether employees actually felt these sentiments during their time with the company, letting HR realize if expectations are being met or if the mission, vision, values trifecta is not coming across enough.

17. What specific changes or improvements would you recommend for the company?

This is a great question that shows genuine interest in the employee’s feelings, giving them an opportunity to detail what they view would have improved their job satisfaction and retention in the role. For the organization, it’s a no-brainer that this is an easy way to gain different perspectives which can contribute to future strategies. 

18. Are there any policies or practices that you think should be reconsidered?

This exit interview question expands on the one above, drawing the focus to policies or practices that were previously implemented but withdrawn during the employee’s time at the company. Like with recommending changes or improvements, this question determines what factors could increase job satisfaction and employee retention.

19. Would you consider returning to work for the company in the future?

This is a good exit interview question, especially for interns at the close of their internship. In addition to offering feedback on whether the employee wants to return for a full-time position in the future, this question also offers insights into what can be improved in the internship, particularly if the employee does not want to return to the company.

20. What advice would you give to your replacement or colleagues?

This answer will really emphasize whether the employee is leaving with a grudge or nothing at all, evident by providing instruction to leave or constructive advice. This helps in case the organization wants to hold another exit interview further down the line to re-assess key reasons for leaving and potential damage control.  

Conclusion

When an employee chooses to leave your company, asking exit interview questions is a good way to ensure that employees leave feeling like their burdens have been listened to, but also so that you know the exact reasons for their departure. There are a bunch of benefits derived from asking exit interview questions, from offering insights into areas for improvement, issues with employee management, potential legal and ethical considerations, and gaining an idea of what the company reputation is among employees. And while we’ve given you a comprehensive list of the very best exit interview questions to ask, remember that you should aim to ask only 10 that are most appropriate for your company and the employee in question.

Liked this article? There’s more where it came from as CakeResume has hundreds of articles offering reliable advice, tips, and tricks related to human resources and employee well-being management to make navigating your professional life a piece of cake. When in doubt, check CakeResume out!

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— Originally Written by Eva O'Mara —

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