Must-Ask Questions for an Exit Interview

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Watching employees come and go is part of the experience at any company. While it can be tough to watch employees leave, you can also use their exit as a highly instructive learning opportunity.

One of the best ways to do this is by conducting a well thought out exit interview. An exit interview gives you the chance to learn valuable information about the employee’s experience at the company. And since the employee isn’t going to be relying on you for their paycheck anymore, they’re more likely to provide you with forthright, honest answers.

Still, you probably won’t get good answers if you don’t ask good questions, so we’re here to help. Here are some must-ask exit interview questions for you to ask your next departing employee.
 

At what point did you decide to look for another job? What prompted you to do so?

 
Most employees will have a reason for looking for another job, and the purpose of this question is to try to get to the heart of it. It’s helpful to know the time of and the reason for the decision, as this might give you some further information. (Did they make the decision immediately following a performance review? Was it not long after a new hire? Did they have a confrontation with a manager or peer?) Encourage them to be as specific as possible.
 

How would you describe our company’s culture?

 
Culture is a vital part of an employee’s experience. If you are able to pinpoint (and fix) problems with your culture, you’ll be more likely to attract and keep good talent in the future.
 

Did your experience here match the expectations you had for the job when you started? Why or why not?

 
Many employees start a new job with a set of expectations about what that job will be like. They have an idea of what their responsibilities will be, how the office is run, who they’ll be working with, and so on. If those expectations are not met in some way, it could have a negative impact on their experience with the company. The answer to this question will hopefully help you set future employees up for success.
 

What was your favorite thing about working here?

 
It’s good to know your strengths, as well as your weaknesses. The answer to this question could shed some light on what your employees like about your company, so you can focus on building that and keeping it strong for new staff.
 

Did you feel you had everything you needed to do your job well, in terms of tools, management, direction, feedback, and information? Is there anything you didn’t have that would have helped you?

 
You want your employees to have what they need to succeed. If they don’t, it’ll be very easy for them to become frustrated with their job, and with the company in general. Before you replace your departing employee, take steps to fill in these gaps so your newest employee will feel empowered to do their job well.
 

What are you looking forward to at your new job?

 
This could give you further insight into why they are choosing to leave your company in favor of another one. What does that company have that you don’t? If the answer is something that is important to many of your employees, you might want to make some adjustments to keep your staff from looking elsewhere.

Ideally, you want to preempt any unnecessary departures by identifying and fixing issues before too many of your employees start leaving. But since that won’t always be possible, conducting effective exit interviews is the next best thing. Ask these questions—and listen carefully to the answers—to help build your company into a place where people love to work and want to stay.
 
Related: What to Wear to the Interview

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