The Most Important Exit Interview Questions To Ask

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published August 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Video: How to Navigate an Exit Interview

We’ll show you how to navigate an exit interview so that you can leave on good terms plus include four common exit interview questions with sample responses.

Exit interviews are useful evaluations for a company as they help reveal why an employee is leaving. These interviews typically involve asking the employee several questions about their work experience. If you are an employer responsible for conducting exit interviews, asking the right questions can lead to insights about the necessary changes for improving a company's overall employee experience. In this article, we explain the most important exit interview questions to ask.

Related: How To Design an Effective Exit Interview Template

What is an exit interview?

An exit interview is a company survey conducted when an employee decides to separate from the organization. The interview is an opportunity for the employee to share honest feedback about their experience and for the company to better understand how to improve their organization, retain more employees and reduce turnover. Insights from the exit interview may also lead to increased productivity, stronger engagement and greater innovation.

Related: 8 Common Exit Interview Questions To Ask (With Example Answers)

10 most important exit interview questions to ask

Here are 10 of the most important questions you can ask during an exit interview:

1. What are your main reasons for leaving?

This is perhaps the most common question asked during an exit interview, as a company is interested in learning the purpose behind the separation. In some cases, the employee may be leaving to be closer to family, to focus on personal health, to accept a better job offer or another company-related reason. It's the company's responsibility to find out whether this is related to the employee's experience with the company.

Related: Exit Interview Do's and Don'ts

2. How would you describe your company culture?

Culture tends to be a deciding factor for people that both join and leave a company. Asking this question allows your team to identify various trends that may attract or detract employees. Their answer may also give you important feedback on aspects such as work-life balance, benefits and company events.

3. What did you like most about the company?

Consider asking for positive feedback. You'll be able to gain perspective on your company's strengths which you can seek to maintain or enhance. For example, an employee may enjoy the sense of camaraderie within the organization, so this feedback may give you a clearer evaluation.

Related: 6 Steps for Conducting an Exit Interview

4. What can be improved that might have influenced you to stay?

Consider asking for their direct input and feedback about what can be changed. Although they may show surprise at the candid question, their response may also be equally honest and straightforward.

Questions like these can be the most beneficial in actionable change within your company, so listen closely to what your employees say. It's important to note that the key part of the question is asking for an improvement that would make them change their mind about leaving. While there may be countless opportunities for improvement, your company should focus on the changes that ultimately drive retention.

5. Did you feel that you received adequate training and development? If not, what could be improved?

Similar to the previous question, this is a direct request for input but specifically about one of the most important parts of the company's onboarding process. If their response is "no," you may follow up by asking more about what can be enhanced to provide a stronger experience. It's common for employees to feel they could have been trained more and this question allows you to learn whether the training portion is a cause for their exit.

6. How do you feel about management and do you have any suggestions for what could be improved?

Management tends to be another important factor in an employee's experience with the company. If they received unclear directions or did not receive enough feedback, that may influence their opinion of the company as a whole. This question may also highlight whether there are individuals in the company who affect employee performance.

7. What made you accept the new job offer?

This question is more of a follow-up and assumes that the cause for exit is because the employee is seeking employment elsewhere. If that is the case, asking about the other job offer may reveal what other companies are doing more competitively, such as salary, benefits or opportunities for growth. It may also help your company develop stronger hiring strategies for future employees.

8. Would you consider returning to this position in the future, if it were available?

Sometimes, the cause for an employee's exit is circumstantial or temporary, such as moving to a new country or for personal health reasons. Their leave may not even have anything to do with the company's operations. This question is useful in identifying whether the candidate still has the same interest in the position as they did during their initial application.

9. Were the duties and responsibilities of this position adequately described in the job description?

It's possible your employee's expectations didn't align with the original job posting's description. The job and its responsibilities itself may be fulfilling to other employees, but was simply not described accurately or completely. In this scenario, you would need to update your advertising and outreach efforts rather than the job itself.

10. Would you consider recommending this position to other friends and family? Why or why not?

Finally, you may want to ask your employee whether they would share the job opening with others. You can then use their feedback to retool various aspects of the job, from the required responsibilities to the training and development.

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