Exit interviews help you learn why your current employees are leaving and how you can improve your workplace. The feedback your organization can gain from exit interviews (or exit surveys) can be critical in lowering employee churn, and creating a better company culture.
What is an exit interview?
An exit interview, or exit survey, is a series of questions you ask employees who are in the process of leaving your company.
Exit survey questions provide valuable information to your company such as: why the employee is leaving, how happy they were with the salary, benefits, leadership, culture, and what they liked least about working at your company.
How long should an exit interview be?
An exit interview should be around 5-10 questions and take your former employee 30 minutes to an hour. These exit interviews should be conducted either in-person or via online exit interview survey for more honest and candid feedback.
Who conducts an exit interview?
An exit interview is typically managed and conducted by a human resources (HR) staff member as part of the general off boarding/job transition process.
What is the point of an exit interview?
The purpose of an exit interview is to get honest feedback from an employee leaving your company. The exit interview is an important opportunity to learn about the reasons why employees leave, so that you can improve those areas to prevent future employee churn.
Exit Interview Question Samples
When conducting an exit interview, it’s important to keep the exit survey limited to a set number of questions to ensure that your former employees complete them.
This is a great opportunity to not just learn about what’s causing employees to leave, but to also cultivate some ideas for how former employees think the company can be improved.
Below you’ll find an example of exit interview questions that you can use today.
- What prompted you to seek other employment?
- Prior to making your decision to leave, did you look into options that would make it possible for you to stay here?
- How would you describe management at our company? Do you feel they adequately recognize employee contributions?
- Were there any company policies you found difficult to understand?
- Did you feel like your job description or responsibilities have changed since your initial hire? If so, in which ways? Were they welcome or unwelcome changes?
- Were you given the tools, resources and work environment to be successful here? If not, what could have been improved to make it better?
- What was your favorite part of working here?
- What do you think our company could improve on?
- Do you think making any specific workplace changes would improve employee morale?
- Are there any concerns or issues around working at this company you’d like to share?
- Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Best Exit Interview Questions
What makes for the best exit interview questions? The best exit interview questions get to the heart of why employees leave and what can be done about it.
Below you’ll find examples of some of the best exit interview questions that we’ve seen, which can replace some of the questions in the sample exit interview above.
- What were the most important factors in choosing another job? Salary? Benefits? Time-off? Company culture? Something else?
- What does your new company provide that we don’t?
- What advice would you give to new-hires at our company?
- What changes to your job would have made you stay at our company?
- What were the three biggest challenges you experienced when working at our company?
- How would you describe our company culture to one of your closest friends?
Other Common Exit Interview Survey Questions
Here are some other common and standard exit interview questions that are used in surveys.
These should provide you with additional ideas for customizing your exit interview survey.
- Would you recommend our company to prospective employees?
- Would you ever consider working for our company again in the future?
- How did you feel about the feedback you received from your manager?
- Did you receive enough training to do your job effectively?
- Was your workload usually too light, varied, just right, or too much? Please explain.
- Are there any employee benefits that weren’t offered that you think should be?
- How frequently did you receive performance feedback?
- What were your feelings about the performance review process?
- How would you rate collaboration and communication across your team? Your department? Your company?
Good Tools for Conducting Exit Interview Surveys
While some traditionalists prefer to use a word doc for exit interview surveys, today’s technology has a number of good options for streaming your exit interview process.
Here are a few of our favorites:
- Typeform: Typeform is an interactive survey tool that you can use to streamline your exit interviews. You can use conditional questions, and even customize surveys to match your brand. We like typeform because of its modern feel and functionality.
- SurveyMonkey: SurveyMonkey is a popular, free survey tool that can be used to conduct exit interview surveys. We recommend it as a step-up from using word docs.
- Checkster: Checkster is an enterprise HR survey tool. Checkster can be used by HR teams to streamline, standardize, and better leverage your exit surveys. Checkster offers detailed analytics into usage, and time spent by your former employee while completing their exit survey, as well as options for referrals.
Bonus: Exit Interview Questions by Role
While the sample exit interview questions above are great for every position, you may want to get some additional detail based on employee roles.
Managers and leaders can have greater insight than entry-level employees, and both could provide crucial information for attracting top level employees and retaining them.
Exit Interview Questions for Interns
When internships end, you should conduct an exit interview for all interns. This provides valuable feedback on whether the interns would return for a full-time position and what you can do to continue to improve the internship programs at your company.
Here are some of the best examples we’ve seen of exit interview questions for interns.
- What are the three most important things you learned from your internship?
- Did you feel like your mentor/manager provided adequate instruction for you to perform your duties?
- What did you like least about your internship?
- What about your internship do you think could have been improved?
- How would you describe our company culture? Is this the type of company you see yourself working at in the future?
- What could we change/improve to make our company more appealing to you?
- Do you feel you were provided all of the resources and instructions needed to succeed?
- Would you want to work for us in the future?
Exit Interview Questions for Managers / Leaders
Losing company leaders and managers can be a tough pill to swallow. These employees can be more difficult to replace. Learning why and preventing other leaders from leaving your company is key for conducting an exit interview with these roles.
Here are some effective questions to ask managers and leaders in exit interviews.
- What made you decide to look for a new role?
- Were there any obstacles that made your job here especially challenging?
- What were the key factors leading you to look for a role at another company?
- What factors made you choose your new company over their competitors?
- Could we have done anything to have prevented you from seeking a new role?
- Did we provide you with all of the resources you needed to succeed? If not, then what could we have done better?
- How do our salary and benefits compare to your new company? Were salary and benefits an important factor in your decision?
- What could we have done to prevent you from switching companies?
- What are three areas you think our company must improve in to prevent people in your role from migrating to other companies?
- How could our company change to get you to return in the future?
- Do you feel our company/product/services are heading in the right direction to stay innovative and competitive with the market? If no, then why?
Exit Interview Questions for Specialists / Technical Roles
When it comes to technical employees and specialists, they typically leave because: they want to pursue a management position, they want higher compensation, they want a work culture that’s a better fit, or they want a better/new product to work with.
Use these exit interview questions for specialists and technical roles.
- How would you compare our salary and benefits packages to that of your new company?
- How could we have changed your technical role to ensure you stayed with our company?
- What was your biggest motivation for seeking alternative employment?
- How would you describe our company culture? What are some ideas you have for making it more enjoyable to come to work each day?
- Were you given ample responsibilities and autonomy to make working here rewarding and enjoyable? If not, then what could have been improved?
- Did you feel you had a clear path for career development here and opportunities for growth? If not, then what could have been improved?
Exit Interview Questions for Nonprofits
Employees at nonprofits often choose your organization because they believe in the mission and cause.
Use these questions to determine whether your initial hire was the right fit for your organization, and what you can do prevent other employees to seek alternative employment.
- Why did you initially choose to work for our organization?
- Did you feel passionate about our mission and your work? Please explain.
- What was your biggest reason for seeking alternative employment?
- How would you compare our salary and benefits to the roles you were evaluating?
- Did you experience any issues with our work culture? What are some ideas for making our work culture even better?
- How could we improve your role and others to prevent more great employees like you from seeking alternative employment?
- Did you feel you were given enough responsibility and support to succeed? If no, please explain.
- How could our company change in the future to get you to return?
- Would you recommend our organization to a friend or other colleagues? If no, how can we improve so that we would be a place you recommend?
Final thoughts: Exit interview questions and samples
Exit interviews are a great opportunity to learn why you’re losing your top talent. When using these exit interview survey questions and samples, make sure to modify them as needed to reflect your HR goals.
As employees leave, it will also be important to source the best candidates to replace them. Make sure to read our 21 Sourcing and Onboarding Hacks to ensure you bring in the right talent, and onboard them to increase retention at your company.