10 Exit Interview Questions You Should Ask

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Exiting employees can offer you valuable insight into your organization’s weaknesses. Here are a few exit interview questions you should ask employees before they leave.

Employees leaving your company can offer a wealth of insight into your employee experience, expose potential weaknesses in your organization’s processes and company culture, provide an evaluation of management and give you ideas for improving employee retention.

Often, employees feel more comfortable giving honest feedback when they’re leaving an organization and know their responses won’t affect their standing with the company. That makes exit interviews a crucial step in the offboarding process.

However, since some exiting employees may feel uncomfortable directly sharing the real reason behind their departure, it’s often not enough to just ask “Why are you leaving?” Instead, consider asking a range of questions to discover some of the reasons why an employee is leaving.

Here are a few exit interview questions to help you get the most value from these final conversations.

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1. What prompted you to begin searching for another opportunity?

Kick off the exit interview by asking the employee why they’re leaving. Are they relocating to a different area? Going back to school? Or do they feel that your company isn’t the right fit? Their answer can help guide the discussion and spark ideas for follow-up questions.

This question can also help you determine which opportunities, benefits or perks your company could be offering to attract and retain top talent. For example, if you notice exiting employees often say they’re leaving because there wasn’t enough opportunity for advancement, it could be a sign that managers aren’t properly addressing their employees’ career aspirations.

Related: Creating a Career Development Plan for Your Employees

2. Do you feel your manager gave you what you needed to succeed?

From training and one-on-one meetings to performance reviews and career development opportunities, managers have a responsibility to make sure each of their team members have the tools and feedback they need to excel in their role. This is one of the best exit interview questions, as it can reveal if employees feel abandoned in any of these areas so it can be addressed with their manager.

3. What did you like best and least about your job?

This exit interview question will help you identify what might get future candidates excited about the role, as well as how to set the right expectations for the position. For example, if an exiting employee says they were unhappy with how often they had to travel, you’ll want to make sure the next hire is comfortable with frequent travel.

4. Do you think your job has changed since you were hired?

Job roles often change based on the fluctuating needs of the department or the company. Sometimes these changes demand a different set of skills than the position initially required and can make current employees less enthusiastic about their work. Hearing how a role has changed will provide you with critical details to include in the job description to make sure your next hire is well-suited for these new demands.

5. Did you feel your achievements were recognized throughout your employment?

Recognition is crucial to the employee experience. When employees know the company notices and values their contributions, it improves motivation, fuels productivity and can decrease turnover. If an employee doesn’t feel their efforts were appreciated, this could be part of the reason they’ve chosen to leave.

6. What suggestions do you have for the company? How could we improve?

From suggestions about management style, compensation and benefits to which snacks to stock in the kitchen, it’s important to consider all types of feedback. While you may not be able to make all proposed changes, knowing what employees find important will help you determine how to improve workplace morale and prevent other employees from leaving for similar reasons.

7. Is there anything that would have changed your mind about leaving?

This exit interview question is purposefully direct and can help you get to the crux of why an employee has chosen to leave. Often, what would have encouraged an employee to stay is also the catalyst behind their reason to move on, and is worth examining further. For example, if an employee says they probably wouldn’t have quit if the company offered more flexibility, then it might be time to explore a remote work policy, flexible start and finish times, unlimited vacation or other flexible work options.

8. Would you recommend this company to a friend? Why or why not?

Even though they ultimately decided to leave your company, former employees can be excellent referral sources. In an ideal world, every exiting employee would answer “yes” to this question — but the reality is there may be some who are so unhappy with their experience that they would feel uncomfortable referring their contacts. In this case, identify the issues and make corrections as quickly as possible.

9. Did you share any of the concerns we discussed today with the company before deciding to leave?

Asking this exit interview question can reveal whether or not employees feel safe and comfortable voicing their concerns and opinions in the workplace. If their answer to this question is “no,” it could be a sign that your company needs to work on building a culture where employees feel confident speaking up and sharing their concerns, without fear of negative consequences or retaliation.

If their answer is “yes,” it may mean that managers (1) aren’t taking employee feedback seriously or (2) aren’t asking for feedback often enough. Try designing an employee satisfaction survey to measure how your current employees are feeling or implementing an employee suggestion box to identify issues that can help prevent the loss of another employee.

Related: Creating a Positive Feedback Loop in Your Business (With Examples)

10. Follow-up question: Can you give me a specific example?

After your former employee has answered any of the above exit interview questions, don’t be afraid to ask them to elaborate with more information or specific examples. For instance, if the exiting employee mentions that they didn’t like that their manager was a micromanager, ask them for a specific example of a time when they felt they were being micromanaged so you know exactly what you need to fix. The more specific feedback you can get, the better.

An exit interview offers employers a unique opportunity to get honest and open feedback that can help improve the experience for current and future employees. Asking these exit interview questions will help you glean valuable information about why employees choose to leave, and give you a roadmap for how to improve retention and keep employees happy long-term.

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