What Questions to Ask in an Exit Interview

A company’s most important capital is its human resource. Highly skilled employees are what drives a company to success. It is therefore essential to retain these high-performing employees.

However, it is unavoidable for some employees to leave their jobs for various reasons. It could be a switch in career, better job opportunities, or a family relocation.

Whatever the reason for their resignation, it is important to conduct exit interviews.

An exit interview is a valuable tool that can be used to assess the weaknesses and the strengths of a company. When conducted properly, exit interviews can significantly improve a company’s overall productivity.

To do this, we must know the right questions to ask.

Questions to Ask in an Exit Interview

An exit interview should not be a perfunctory process. It provides us an opportunity to identify problems and seek solutions.

When we conduct exit interviews, we must make sure to listen to our employees. We ask relevant questions, understand responses, and take appropriate actions.

To get the best out of exit interviews, here are some questions we can ask our employees:

1. Ask Questions to Understand Personal Employment Issues

Sometimes, employees leave the company for personal reasons. It may be due to unavoidable circumstances such as family relocation or a sudden illness. But these personal issues may also be work-related.

Perhaps they lack fulfillment in their job. Or maybe they see no room for career growth in the company. It could also be due to a mismatch between their skills and job description.

It is important for us to understand the personal issues that necessitated resignation. We can then take appropriate measures to improve work motivation and efficiency.

  • What are your specific reasons for leaving your job?
  • Do you have any concerns with your job description and responsibilities?
  • Was your job aligned with your own personal goals?
  • Did we help you become more effective in your job?
  • Do you feel you were provided ample training and guidance?
  • What aspects of your job did you like the most?
  • What aspects of your job did you dislike?
  • How well were you given positive recognition and appreciation for your work?
  • How do you feel about your career development here?
  • Do you feel that you had enough work-life balance while in our company?

2. Ask Questions to Understand Interpersonal Issues

Issues with peers, superiors, or subordinates may also be the reason why an employee resigns.

More often than not, employees stay mum when they have concerns with the behavior or attitude of their colleagues. They may think it’s unprofessional to air negative emotions or to complain about their peers or superiors.

However, they no longer need to worry about sounding unprofessional when they resign. They can talk more candidly about these issues during their exit interview.

It is important to delve into relational issues because these may also happen with other employees. We must address them promptly before they affect others in the company.

  • Did you have any concerns with colleagues during team collaborations?
  • How were your relations with your supervisors?
  • How were your relations with your subordinates?
  • Did you have any complaints? How were they handled?
  • Did you have any conflict with a colleague? How was it resolved?
  • Did you have any conflict with your supervisor? Was it resolved?
  • What are your thoughts on team accountability within our company?
  • What could your manager have done better?
  • What could you have done better in leading your team?
  • Was the performance feedback from your supervisor and colleagues helpful?

3. Ask Questions to Understand Organizational Issues

It is critical for us to know if an employee’s resignation is due to poor management. Poor management or any organizational issues significantly impact the company’s growth.

We gain valuable insight into the company’s leadership styles through exit interviews.

We can identify issues that create a toxic work culture and take necessary actions to correct them. We can determine if there are any improvements we can make with our organizational design and processes.

  • How do you feel about the company as a whole?
  • What are your thoughts about the management?
  • What can the company do to gain employee trust?
  • Do you think there are any areas that need to be improved?
  • What would you change in the company?
  • What could we do better as an organization?
  • What is your culture assessment of our company?
  • What do you think we should do to improve employee morale?
  • How can we improve our company’s training and development?
  • What can you say about our organizational processes?

Read more about avoiding an angry exit interview.

4. Learn More About The Competitive Landscape

Employees also resign when they get an offer that they couldn’t possibly refuse. This is a common reason companies lose high-performing employees.

Often, employees who leave already have other jobs waiting for them. Other companies might be offering higher compensation or better benefits. They may have more opportunities for career and personal growth.

We can get a glimpse into the competitive landscape through exit interviews. Knowing what made employees jump ship would give us an opportunity to enhance the benefits we offer our workforce.

When asking these questions, we want to gain as much insight as we can to make the necessary improvements. With that said, we should ask these questions not only during exit interviews but also throughout the work process.

Methods Used in Conducting an Exit Interview

There are many methods in conducting exit interviews. Each one has its own advantages. To get as much information as we can, we can utilize a combination of different methods at various intervals.

Among the methods we can employ when conducting interviews are:

1. Face-to-face interview

Nothing beats personal conversation in gathering candid feedback. We get responses that we can’t possibly gather from standardized questionnaires.

We are able to express gratitude and appreciation to our employees. Moreover, we end things on a positive note and keep communication open for future collaborations.

More on Face-to-face Interviews

2. Questionnaires

Questionnaires can be helpful in preparing for a final exit interview. We can ask employees to fill out these forms when they signify their intent to resign. Knowing their issues beforehand can give us insight on what else we can ask during a personal interview.
We can also request them to fill out questionnaires a few months after they leave the company. Oftentimes, they provide a perspective that’s different from when they were still with the company.

3. Surveys

Surveys are great ways to identify trends in employee turnover. When we use a standardized process like online surveys, we simplify data gathering and make it easy to quantify data and analyze results.

We can use software tools that gather and dissect data by role, tenure, and performance levels. This way, we can easily spot patterns and identify which organizational aspects need improvement. It also allows us to expedite translating data into quantifiable results.

Whichever method we use to collect exit interview data, it’s crucial that we analyze the information we have gathered.

Aside from the main reasons for departure, it is also important to consider how long an employee had been working for the company before they quit. Check for patterns of resignation in specific jobs or departments.

Follow Up and Take Action

It is likewise essential to share the data with senior management so it can be followed up with appropriate action. Gathering information and merely storing it in archives will render it useless.

Take note that the effectiveness of an exit interview does not rely on the information you collect. It is measured by the positive change it brings about within the company.