Exit Interviews: Effective Employee Exit Interview Questions

Published On
Feb 26, 2021
Read Time
4.5 Minutes
OnBlick Inc

Over the years, businesses have recognized the significance of an effective employee onboarding program owing to its numerous benefits. But, a lot of us are yet to realize the advantage of an effective offboarding process. Do you know what experts who understand the benefits of offboarding tell us? “Determining why the employee is leaving is just as important as planning for their future replacement”.

Here’s everything the management teams and HR departments should know about exit interviews, an integral part of the offboarding process.

What are Exit Interviews?

An exit interview (EI) is an interview conducted with an employee who is leaving a company. It is often a meeting between a company's Human Resources department and the departing employee. The motive behind exit interviews is that the company conducting it wants to gather feedback about the job the employee held, the work environment, and the organization. Exit interviews are often required by HR department policy since they are a brilliant method for a company to evaluate and continuously improve the relations with its employees.

The purpose of Exit Interviews

Let’s suppose that a company begins losing its customers without any reason or explanation. Wouldn’t they want one of their clients to tell them what the problem was so they could have a chance to fix it? The rationale behind exit interviews is no different. As per a Forbes article on the topic, exit interviews can be an essential asset to help businesses determine whether they're doing all in their power to retain their employees. However, you cannot completely be certain that every exit interview will be fruitful. According to Harvard Business Review, exit interviews depend upon two elements to be effective:

1) The employees’ honesty & forthrightness

2) The organization’s willingness to change

Even if negative feedback is hard to accept, if an employee shares their genuine thoughts, you should consider it as an invaluable resource for improving your organization. At the end of the day, the core purpose of an exit interview is to collect honest feedback that helps you to make changes and provide your teams a better employee experience.

Exit interviews offer you insights into:  

Choosing the right questions

Exit interviews are conducted in the form of an online survey or as a face-to-face interview. Both the methods have their advantages and drawbacks. While some recommend using the former, a lot of experts consider the latter as a more effective method. Whichever way you opt for, you should be aware of the fact that poor exit interview questions and strategies often impede honest feedback.

With the right questions and the proper approach to the conversation, you can gather a lot of useful feedback and rich information within your departing employees’ answers. To reap all the benefits of EIs, it is important to frame proper questions. Here are a few that will help you!

Effective Exit Interview Questions

Conventionally, the EI questions are focused on why the employee is leaving, why they decided to accept a new position, their likes and dislikes in the office, whether they would like to change anything about the company, whether they would recommend the company to others, and what suggestions they have for improvement of the company. The following questions can be a part of your questionnaire.

A few things to be cautious about

When it comes to an EI, one of the primary questions you should ask yourself is – Who should conduct the interview? Experts consider it best to have your Human Resources specialist conducting the EIs since they are believed to possess the right skills and appropriate experience. In case your company doesn’t have a dedicated HR professional, you should appoint someone other than the departing employee’s direct supervisor to conduct the exit interview.

Since EIs are a platform for your employees to share their opinions you need to be careful to avoid negativity with the help of the following ways:

Tips for employers

  1. Explain the purpose of the EI at the beginning of the interview. Make it clear that the EI aims to make positive changes and improve your company culture. Let them know that you value their honesty and constructive feedback.
  2. Yes/ No questions seldom offer any insight. Make sure that the EI questions are open-ended, and they allow the departing employee to speak their mind. Remember that EI questions do not have right or wrong answers.
  3. Listen actively and speak less. The interviewer’s role is not to challenge the employee’s reasons, just to hear them and determine whether or not they’re valid and require action.
  4. EIs conducted in person could be more effective than online surveys because they allow for a direct, two-way conversation. Besides this, the interviewer will be able to ask follow-up questions to make the best use of these interviews.
  5. Make sure you conduct the EI as a one-on-one, and in a private setting. Also, see to it that you create a comfortable atmosphere. You should assure the exiting employee that everything they say will be confidential and anonymous.
  6. Remain consistent with all your EIs. Ask all your leaving employees the same set of predetermined exit interview questions. This not only helps compare their answers but also lets you notice recurring topics and detect trends.
  7. If several people have complained about the same issue, make a note of it and follow up with your existing employees to learn how to improve their experience.
  8. Employers should ask the exiting employees if anything can be done to make the workplace experience better in the future
  9. Conduct EIs for your remote workers too. Employers are recommended to carry out interviews virtually when in-person meetings aren't possible. Interviewing by video calling is preferred to e-mailing.


Final thoughts

Every business suffers from employee retention issues. But, learning from one’s mistakes and fixing the problems can aid organizations to retain their top talent. If organizations act promptly on the data gathered while conducting the exit interview, they would know “what not to do” at the workplace so that the attrition rate drops down and the employee satisfaction enhances. By listening carefully during exit interviews, analyzing the results, and looking for trends in the data gathered, employers can put themselves one step closer to boosting employee retention.


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