Are exit interview questions useful?

You bet they are

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Thursday, Mar 14, 2024

As a business owner, it's inevitable that employees will leave your company. But, an employee leaving can be an opportunity to receive honest and valuable feedback.

Conducting an exit interview is a great way of finding out why they chose to leave, and how your company is performing. To do this, you need to know the best exit interview questions to ask.

In this guide, we'll discuss sample exit interview questions you can ask, why they're important, and what to do with the results.

What is an Exit Interview?

An exit interview (also known as an exit survey), is a list of questions you ask an employee who is in the process of leaving your business. This form of interview should make up a key part of your process when someone chooses to move on.

Employees who are leaving can provide fantastic inside knowledge of how your company runs daily.

So, you need to be aware of how to conduct an exit interview in your business.

How to Conduct Exit Interviews

Conducting exit interviews allow you to make some changes to how your business is run. Being proactive will create a good working relationship between you and your current employees. As well as keeping your top talent in your business.

These interviews should be carried out by your human resources (HR) department, usually during the employee's notice period.

The interview should be conducted after an employee decide to leave, but before their last day. Many employers choose to carry out online exit interviews, which tend to result in more candid feedback. Generally speaking, these interviews are held in private.

Why is it Important to Get Honest Feedback from an Exit Interview?

An exit interview provides both insight and valuable feedback on your company and can help improve the working lives of both your current and future employees. They are important to find out why employees are choosing to leave your company.

The information exiting employees can provide will help you make vital changes to your company moving forwards. Conducting an exit interview survey is a useful option if your company is suffering from high employee turnover.

What are the Benefits of an Exit Interview?

Some employers may not believe that exit interviews are useful and could see them as wasting valuable time. But, there is a wide range of benefits that come with conducting them.

For example:

  • Improving employee engagement.

  • Gain valuable knowledge.

  • Identify real concerns you may not have previously known about.

  • Improve retention and decrease employee turnover in the future.

  • A chance to learn from former employees' experiences.

  • Gain insight and valuable information from an employee's perspective.

  • To see if your employees are working in line with your company values.

How to Prepare for an Exit Interview

As an employer, you need to prepare for when employees leave. So, you should have an exit interview template ready to use.

You should add questions based on the information you receive from a leaving employee.

Two people having an exit interview in an office with a laptop

What are the Best Exit Interview Questions to Ask?

To conduct an effective exit interview, you need to know what questions are best to ask.

Be aware the answers you receive are the personal opinion of the departing employee, so not everything they say is correct. Don't react the wrong way to some answers, and remain professional at all times.

Let's discuss a few exit interview questions you can ask employees who are leaving your company.

What Made You Look For a New Job?

This is a superb exit interview question, as you must find out why your employees leave for new employment.

As much as you may not want to hear it, you need to know why an employee has chosen a new position elsewhere. It could be one of many reasons, such as a higher salary, a better benefits package, or a flexible working option.

How Would You Describe Our Company Culture?

This question helps you to identify trends within your company, whether positive or negative regarding your company culture.

If the answer shows you have a toxic workplace culture, you can implement ideas to change this. A follow-up question asking for a specific example could be useful (especially if the answer was negative).

What Did You Like Best and Least About Your Job?

This question will make you aware of what could attract future candidates to your company. Most of the time you may not be aware of what is making your employees unhappy.

For example, if the exiting employee made it clear they weren't overly pleased with the amount of traveling they had to do - you can make sure the next employee is comfortable with frequent travel.

Did You Enjoy Working with Us?

Finding out if the employee enjoyed working with you is key to seeing if the reason behind them leaving is financial or due to job satisfaction.

Job unhappiness is one of the main reasons why people leave their job, so if this is the case for your company then you must do something about it.

Do You Feel You Had all the Tools to Succeed?

This question provides a fantastic insight into how your employees feel about the training you provide to new employees.

Their answer can allow you to improve your current training programs, as well as create better ones for your staff.

Did You Feel the Workload was Manageable?

A question like this is key to establishing whether the current workload is too heavy for the job role. An employee feeling overworked can lead to many negatives, such as an increase in workplace stress.

If the workload isn't manageable, you may need to increase your salary or compensation package.

Person with a bag leaving work

Did You Have Clear Goals and Objectives?

Employees should always have a clear set of achievable goals and objectives. So if the answer to this question is no, you need to make changes.

If the answer is yes, implement the same plan for each of your new employees.

How Can We Improve Our Employee Development?

The career development of your employees should be one of your main priorities, so the answer to this question is vital.

If the answer is negative, take it as a way to improve the current development plans you provide your employees. Most of your employees will want to develop and progress, so you should create plans that allow them to thrive.

Were You Happy With How You Were Managed?

Asking a former employee about how they were managed is critical. If the answer isn't positive, you should ask for specific examples.

You can then provide training to your senior staff and managers off the back of the examples you've been given. You should always look to be proactive with the results of the exit interview.

Do You Have Any Ideas on How We Can Improve Employee Morale?

Good employee morale is one of the most crucial parts of running a successful business. It can lead to an increase in productivity, employee retention, and lower turnover.

It can be something as small as an early finish on a Friday or buying your employees coffee - but it can go a long way.

How Was Your Work-Life Balance Whilst Working With Us?

A good work-life balance is key to an employee's job happiness. If they're struggling to cope with the workload on top of their personal commitments, they may look for work elsewhere.

So if this is the reason why an employee is leaving, you need to do something about it as soon as possible.

Do You Feel Your Job Description Changed Whilst You Worked With Us?

The answer to this question allows you to see whether you need to make changes to this particular position when hiring for a replacement.

You don't want to hire a new employee on the back of a job description which is incorrect.

Did You Receive Constructive Feedback to Help Aid Improvement?

This question allows you to gain insight into whether your employees feel like their work is noted by their managers.

You need to ensure all team members receive constructive feedback regularly from their line manager. This will aid both the working relationship and hopefully the employee's output.

Did You Feel Like Your Pay and Benefits Package Was Good or Bad?

Pay is typically a contributing factor to employee dissatisfaction within a company.

So, the departing employee's answer can help you discover whether the pay and benefits package you're currently offering needs to be increased. Your compensation package must be competitive enough to keep your best employees in the company.

What Suggestions Do You Have for the Company?

The answer to this question can range from management style and benefits, to work social events. You need to be open to what the exiting employees may say when they provide their answers.

It may not be possible for you to make every change the exiting employee suggests, but making some of them may stop other employees from leaving.

Were You Comfortable Raising Issues with Your Manager?

Many employees feel worried about raising issues and concerns they have with their manager for fear of retaliation or unfair treatment.

If the answer to this question is no, then you need to provide further training to your managers and senior staff. Your employees should always feel comfortable raising any issues they may have.

Did You Feel Your Achievements Were Recognised During Your Time With Us?

Recognising your employee's achievements and performance is crucial to your employee experience. Even if it's just a thank you, some recognition for your staff will go a long way.

Not giving recognition to your employees may lead to job unhappiness and an increase in employee turnover.

Did You Raise Any of the Concerns Raised in This Interview Before Deciding to Leave?

You should see this question as vital to how your company is run. Your employees need to feel like their concerns are listened to and acted upon.

If an employee has raised an issue multiple times and nothing has been done, they may feel like the only choice they have is to look for other employment.

Would You Recommend Our Company to a Friend?

Although they're leaving your company, an exiting employee can be an excellent referral source in the future.

Be aware that their answer to this question may be no. If this is the case you mustn't act negatively and end the relationship in a conflict with the employee.

What Could We Have Done to Keep You Here?

This question is purposefully direct and can help you find the real reason why they're choosing to leave.

For example, their reason may be because there's a lack of flexible working options. So, moving forwards you can offer this to your current and new employees.

two people having an exit interview in a casual setting

What Should You Do With the Results of the Exit Interview?

A good exit interview process will provide you with excellent data, thoughts, and ideas for your company. By asking the best exit interview questions, you can use the employee's answer to improve the performance of your company.

In theory, all exit surveys have one purpose - to make your employee's experience the best it can be. They may also make you think differently about the job you're hiring for. For example, you may change the job listing before starting the hiring process.

You may choose to provide follow-up training for all senior managers and staff post-exit interviews.

Get Advice on the Best Interview Questions with BrightHR

Employees will inevitably leave your company and look for new employment elsewhere. But, an employee leaving can provide honest and valuable feedback for your company.

Conducting an exit interview is a great way of finding out why they chose to leave, and how your company is performing. So, you need to know the best exit interview questions to ask.

If you need any advice on what exit interview questions to ask, we are on hand to help. Our BrightAdvice helpline. Give our friendly and helpful team a call on 0800 470 2432.

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