PeopleGoal

Blog·HR Management

April 14, 2021

What Exit Interview Questions to ask when interviewing Leavers

A part of HR that is regularly overlooked, exit interview questions can play a key role in promoting a stronger company culture and employee engagement.

The departure of any employee comes at a cost to the organization. SHRM suggests that the cost to replace an employee can range anywhere from 90% to 200% of that employee's salary. Not only is there the expense of finding a replacement but there is also the need to temporarily cover all of the responsibilities of the previous employee. Evidently, this is why employee retention should be a high priority for any organization. Reducing turnover will reflect well on the company culture, and can contribute to attracting top talent.

There is valuable information to be attained from exiting employees. Establishing how an employee felt about their development opportunities, relationships with colleagues and many other aspects will provide useful insights for leaders and HR. Honest feedback from employees on such topics will facilitate significant improvements for the company as a whole.

In this article, we will be focusing on the type of questions that should be asked to run a successful exit interview. From looking at guidance on how to conduct exit interviews themselves to the process of defining an accurate job description to replace exiting employees. Within the following paragraphs, we will present to you the optimal approach to improve employee retention and bolster your company culture.

Are Exit Interviews worth it?

Oftentimes, the process of an employee leaving an organization can be trying. The emotional impact of team members leaving the team can take a toll on others. In other situations, an employee may be departing as a result of negative or unsatisfactory performance. These instances can be equally difficult for all involved to participate in. No matter what the reason is for leaving, the exit interview process is still an essential process to carry out.

Employee feedback is a vital resource to attain valuable information that can inform the onwards management of the organization. Taking the time to properly discuss and conduct exit interviews in a professional and productive manner will have numerous benefits. With the right interview questions, leaders can act upon employee feedback to promote better employee engagement and company culture.

Exit Interview Definition

Understanding how a departing employee felt in their role will provide important insights as to the experience of working for the organization. Reflecting on the company culture, interactions with team members and the fulfillment of their role and responsibilities will present a clear indication of how employees feel about working for your organization.

Without an exit interview process, there would be a significant lack of valuable information about their role and the work environment. When employees leave an organization, they carry with them the knowledge that is undocumented. For example, they may know the best approach to handling a particular client or how to most efficiently use the scanning machine. Each and every employee will have collated an array of hacks for their role that are unknown to others. In order to streamline the process of hiring a new employee and allowing them to quickly adapt to the new role, they need as much information that they can possibly get.

As Harvard Business Review states: "A thoughtful exit interview can catalyze leaders’ listening skills, reveal what does or doesn’t work inside the organization, highlight hidden challenges and opportunities, and generate essential competitive intelligence". In essence, the exit interview is key to the continued success of any organization.

Exit Interviews can improve employee engagement

An employee exit interview is essentially a debrief. A necessary and useful process that will allow the company to maintain a similar level of productivity despite losing a team member. Much like how constructive feedback can assist an employee to work more productively, the exit interview presents tremendous development opportunities for the organization as a whole.

How to conduct Exit Interviews

Looking at what an exit interview entails, there is a significant emphasis on learning from the employee. Nevertheless, this interview should also present an opportunity for the employee to receive some constructive feedback about their own performance. To run any interview successfully, both participants must share a mutual feeling of involvement and value in the discussion.

From an HR perspective, the employee exit interview provides the best chance to give the employee guidance on how the remaining off-boarding process will work. If there are any procedures that exiting employees must carry out, HR professionals can start this interview by informing them of what to expect as they depart from the organization.

Exit Interview Questions Examples

After having outlined the final steps for the employee leaving the company, the focus can turn to the exit interview questions. Beginning with a focus on self-assessment, ask questions about how the employees felt about their individual performance and experiences within their role.

Example 1: Please describe the experience of working for...

Example 2: How do you feel about your performance whilst working with us?

Example 3: Were there adequate development opportunities for you?

Example 4: Why are you leaving?

Then broaden the discussion to their reflections of how the organization is run, their relationships with other employees, and so on. The initial exit interview questions should enable the employee to voice any concerns or appraisals of their individual experience of working with the company. Be sure to remind them that you value honest feedback, first and foremost.

Example 5: In three words, how would you describe our company culture?

Example 6:: If applicable, is there anything that you would change about the running of the organization?

Example 7: Did you feel comfortable talking to your manager?

Example 8: Did you receive constructive feedback to help improve your performance? Was this effective?

Once it is clear that the employee has shared their thoughts about the experience of work, look to determine more specific information about how they have executed the roles and responsibilities of their position. Any valuable information that could help create a more accurate job description or to assist the next person who will be taking on their role.

Example 9: If you were to write a job description for your role, what would you include?

Example 10: Do you feel there are any aspects of your role that were not appreciated/ recognized as your responsibility?

Example 11: Do you feel that the company offered a space to voice your concerns?

Example 12: What was the best part of your job?

As the employee exit interview draws to a close, you should have developed a much better appreciation for the experience of working in this role. Moreover, through the current of the conversation, it should have become clear how the employee felt about their time with the company. Gathering and analyzing the responses given for each of these questions will enable you to not only better prepare the next employee to take on this role. It will also provide you with a snapshot of how employees perceive the company culture and the overall employee experience.

Hacks for an effective exit interview

You want to leave the exit interview with the best understanding of how the employee has experienced their role and the company as a whole. Once you have been through all of your planned exit interview questions, be sure to give the employee the opportunity to share any additional thoughts or comments before wrapping it all up.


All in all, the employee exit interview process is an extremely useful tool. It can be used to attain valuable information in the interest of reducing turnover and promoting a more inclusive company culture. The exit interview questions that you decide to ask your exiting employees can reveal unique insights about the maintenance of your organization.

Providing these individuals with a channel for honest feedback on departure is a healthy and productive means to gather an answer to this question or that, whatever it is you wish to learn from employees leaving the company. To see some more examples of exit interview questions, then take a look at another PeopleGoal blog here.

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