Employees quit; because of personal issues, because of things at work, or because they want more growth opportunities. But the bottom line is that most eventually leave. Of course, there are those who stay and grow with the organization, becoming one with its vision and mission. To deal with that, an exit management process needs to be in place. And asking the right exit interview questions is an important part of that.

A good exit interview process is conducted so that the organization knows the real reason behind the employee leaving and gets an insight into the exit. The employee too can benefit from an exit interview and know what changes can they bring about for a better working experience in the future.

In this article, we will talk all about exit interview questions, the best practices, the do’s and don’ts, sample questions, and a lot more. Consider this a complete guide to exit interview questions.

What is an Exit Interview?

To understand how effective employee exit interview questions are we first need to know what exit interviews are. It is also known as a separation interview. In case an exit interview happens when the employee is being fired or terminated, it is termed as a termination interview. An exit interview is basically the opposite of a job interview. While a job interview focuses on why a candidate wishes to join the organization and how productive they would be, an exit interview focuses on why the employee wishes to leave the organization.

To sum it up, an exit interview is an interview that the HR lead conducts for the exiting employee. It is a structured interview that helps provide an understanding of the reasons behind the employee’s exit. At the same time, it also gives an insight into the organization’s internal affairs and how to improve those for a better retention rate.

Thus, it is very important to have a comprehensive exit interview questions plan in place. After all, they are a reflection of how the exit of an employee is going to impact the future of the organization.

Exit interview questions are more than just a formality.

Why Should you Conduct an Exit Interview?

exit interview questions

As per a Burke Incorporated study, nearly 91% of the Fortune 500 organizations conduct exit interviews.

This is an important statistic because it establishes how important exit interviews are to the overall development of the organization. An exit interview questions template should make the organization a better place by finding out the cause of attrition. Here are some of the benefits of having a proper exit interview process:

Reduces the Turnover Costs

Getting to know why employees are leaving helps the organization narrow down the issues that need to be addressed. The right exit interview questions help do that. Thus, it contributes towards reducing the turnover cost of the organization as the HR knows exactly whom to hire and how to create a work environment so that employees do not leave quickly.

Makes the Recruitment Process Better

The right exit interview questionnaire helps in making the recruitment process better. HR now knows what kind of talent fits better with the organization’s culture. This helps hire the right person for the right job, which helps in improving the retention rate.

Gives Closure

A properly structured exit interview questionnaire gives closure to both the employee and the employer. It is the statement that ties all the loose ends leaving no room for misunderstandings. At least that is what the aim of a good exit interview process should be.

Takes Care of Legal Issues

Asking the right exit interview questions and having a proper exit management process in place helps document each and every aspect of an employee’s exit. This is beneficial to prevent any sort of legal repercussions in the future if the employee decides to press any charges.

What are Some of the Best Exit Interview Practices?

A good exit interview is not only dependent on asking the right exit interview questions, but also on how you approach the topic and get the conversation flowing. Here are some of the exit interview tips that can come in handy while preparing an exit interview questionnaire.

Take the Interview in Person

A personal touch is always the best policy for a sensitive meeting as an exit interview. Exit interview questions can often turn personal, at the risk of being interfering. This can easily create a misunderstanding if the conversations are not tackled carefully. It is always good to take this interview in person, one on one. It will also help you gauge the body language of the employee and figure out how comfortable they are with the exit interview questions. This will help you conduct the interview better and frame your exit interview questions in a way that suits the employee.

Create a Comfortable Environment

The exit interview process should be conducted in a familiar atmosphere for the employee rather than an intimidating one. Employee exit interview questions and answers are supposed to be an honest conversation with a free flow of information. A free and familiar atmosphere will ensure that the employee answers each question honestly. This leads to transparent communication which is the essence of any exit interview process.

Give Clarity with Respect to the Purpose

Just like the job interview, an exit interview process too should have clarity. Even though emails prepare the employee for what’s to come in the interview, it is always better to give a clarification before beginning the actual conversation. The purpose of exit interview questions and answers is always to gauge what mistakes may have happened during the tenure of the exiting employee and how those can be worked upon for better work culture.

Be Consistent

Last but not the least, be consistent with your questions. Do not let bias or personal relationships come between your conversation with the exiting employee. Prepare a set of questions and keep updating and altering it as per the professional requirements. But keep the purpose consistent, that of making the organization a better workplace.

Now that you know why conducting an efficient exit interview process is important, it’s time to understand what questions to ask in an exit interview.

7 Questions to Ask in an Exit Interview

There are no set exit interview templates. But, there are certain questions that should definitely be a part of your list. Here are some of the exit interview questions that you should definitely ask the employee who is leaving.

Sample Exit Interview Questions 1

Why did you start looking for another opportunity?

After you have established the purpose of the interview and made the employee comfortable, it’s better to dive straight into the interview and ask this question first. This will help you understand what kind of employees you should look for in terms of geographical location, perks and compensation.

Sample Exit Interview Questions 2

Do you think that you got all the relevant assistance and information from your manager?

Managers have a responsibility for their subordinates. They have to teach, give feedback and ensure that their team members are the best in their role. This interview question is simple and diplomatic enough to reveal whether or not the exiting employee had an issue with the manager.

Sample Exit Interview Questions 3

What was the best thing about your job and what was the worst one?

A cliché but an important question nevertheless. This will help you understand what makes the role interesting and what makes it tedious. This further helps hire the person who would be able to address both sides of the equation and be able to stay on longer.

Sample Exit Interview Questions 4

Do you think your achievements were recognized while you were working with us?

This is an important question from the perspective of employee engagement. Employee appreciation is a very important aspect of any job. Employees who are continuously appreciated have better productivity and are happier. If the employees feel under-appreciated that can be a big reason for their exit.

Sample Exit Interview Questions 5

Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve?

Believe us when we say, this is the best question you can ask an exiting employee. The individual can give you all the feedback that he would not have been able to as an employee. There is still a chance that the former employee may hold back for the fear of retaliation so do take overwhelmingly positive answers with a pinch of salt.

Sample Exit Interview Questions 6

Do you think we could have done something to prevent you from leaving?

This is another form of asking the previous question. It will give you an insight into what you could have done to change the employee’s mind and you can try that with the other employees, existing or new.

Sample Exit Interview Questions 7

Would you be recommending this company to a friend or acquaintance?

This is a very normal follow up question, almost like feedback. Ask your exiting employee whether or not they would recommend working at this company. This question can open a can of worms that may have otherwise been hidden through the rest of the exit interview process.

Exit interview: Useless or useful?

We know. We have been harping on and about the relevance of exit interview questions for nearly a thousand words. Asking this question right now does not make any sense. Or does it? An exit interview is important, but there is a contrary viewpoint that some Human Resource managers hold. According to the view, these questions and the overall exit interview exercise is a little fruitless and can be done away with. Did we hear right? How can something so important and which gives an insight into the psyche of the employees who are leaving be unimportant? Hear out the argument against it.

As per Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, an exit interview is like a breakup. It starts off with good intentions but ends up being just as cliched and adds no value to the relationship and the two people who are parting. Sounds brutal. Costolo chose Fortune’s Great Place to Work Conference to make this quirky yet relatable analogy.

Conversation not Interview

exit interview questions

‘Exit conversation not interview’ is another approach that is gaining popularity of late. It stresses the simple fact that the term interview should be replaced with a conversation because the former is quite intimidating in basics whereas the latter is quite friendly and revelatory in nature. If you ask us, we would say the same. Call it an interview or conversation, but make it an activity that should be comfortable for the employee.

One concern that bothers those who are not in favour of exit interviews is the fact that employees may behave antagonistically and say things that they do not mean, if only at the moment. How do you figure out the genuinity of such answers? That is something the HR will have to figure out putting their people skills to play.

Overall, everyone agrees that some form of conversation or communication is required when an employee is leaving. Exit interview or exit conversation, a suspicious one on one with breakup vibes or a hearty farewell, these interviews do add value to the organization and help prevent employee attrition.

Do you Need to Set up an Exit Interview Process?

Yes, you do. Asking the best exit interview questions ensures that you know the cause of your current employee leaving. The information gained can be subsequently filed in the employee database. It helps HR in creating the right kind of work environment for attracting good candidates and retaining excellent talent.

Do you have a process in place? What are the kind of exit interview questions and answers that you ask? Do share with us at @HarmonizeHQ.