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All The Best 12 Exit Interview Questions You Should be Asking!

Mathew Maniyamkott

Mathew Maniyamkott

10 min read

Russel works with a large multinational corporation in its Marketing division. He has been an essential cog in the company’s wheels for the past 12 years and is a veteran. His sudden outburst at an executive meeting was totally unexpected by his peers and immediate seniors who have always considered him a non-confrontational person and were taken aback by it. The subsequent resignation sent shockwaves throughout the company as they were yet to come to terms with the result of the earlier meeting. Everybody wanted to know what happened, especially the management as to why he was adamant about quitting the job.

He was the go-to person for the Marketing team and losing him would mean a direct hit on the revenues as his skills were varied and because he added a lot of value to its bottom-line. After tiring negotiations with him, the management decided that there was no way they could make him stay and were ready to relieve him of his official duties. They can use the exit interviews to know what led to this decision of Russel. Asking the right questions in an empathetic way can help the company in the future on avoiding any mistakes that they committed here with Russel and make amends with him so that he at least leaves on good terms.

The goal of Exit Interviewing is to learn from the past so that you don’t repeat mistakes in the future.

What is an exit interview?

The exit interview is a tete-a-tete that the HR department has with the exiting employee. It is conducted to get feedback about the employee’s job, the work environment, enforcement of rules, if there is a toxic workplace, and why the said employee is leaving. It helps the business to learn how to retain their employees and address a high employee turnover. Turnover rate is the percentage of employees who leave an organization during a particular period of time. A turnover rate of 10% is considered normal while anything more than that is bad for your business.

Here are the 12 best exit interview questions that you should ask your employees. And while you are at it, don’t forget to check our expert made exit interview template for perfect results.

Best Exit Interview Question #1

“Why are you leaving this job?”

This is usually the first question as the HR wants to know why you are leaving the job, as simple as that. The answer to this question will give them an idea if a single event was the reason behind your resignation or a series of events prompted this decision. The HR also wants to know if there were any reasons like office atmosphere or the behavior of colleges that drove you to this decision. They want to know if any of this would affect the future employee who will take your position.

Also, they want to know what they could have done to retain you at the job. Most businesses will be glad if you are as honest as possible with your answers because this helps them for the future.

Best Exit Interview Question #2

“Did you have all the resources to do the job well?”

Being frank with the HR will help the company immensely, which is one of the reasons behind having this process in the first place. This is one of the best exit interview questions since the company wants to know if there were any restrictions on doing your job because of any lack of resources.

You can talk about the lack of training, lagging software issues, uncooperative office rules, and miscommunication and so on. Each of these areas can stifle the growth in the company, which is why you airing your grievances is the best form of gratitude that you can show to your ex-employer.

It is easy to say only nice things and leave, while you don’t have to be rude and uncooperative, the HR department is only looking for ways to improve the incumbent situation. Do not be afraid to be blunt with the shortcomings. Also, never burn bridges. Put across your grievances with as much kindness as you can.

Its a good idea to offer constructive ideas on larger systemic issues that you feel might have a serious and lasting impact on the culture.

Best Exit Interview Question #3

“What does your new company offer which we don’t?”

While this might look like a blunt question, an employee who has not had the best experience will not hesitate to be completely forthcoming about sharing his/her views on this. If asking such a blunt question elicits better responses, there is nothing wrong with employing this question.

There are a lot of right answers for this question. They could be leaving the company for better benefits, higher package or even a better work environment. They might even be unhappy about the lack of flexibility in your company. This is also an area which can help the business immensely. Analyze the answers said by different employees who have quit the company to see if there is a common issue that bothered them.

If there is a pattern that you can unearth, then find out how the problem originated in the first place. If it is something that you can work on, then gear up on making it a non-issue. There are certain things that you cannot work on, like being able to afford a better salary for the employee if you don’t have the budget for it.

Best Exit Interview Question #4

“On a scale of 1-10, rate the supervision and the job knowledge of your supervisor”

One of the most influential people in your job are your immediate seniors who have a say in a lot of things surrounding your job. It could make or break your relationship with the company which is why it is featured as one of the best exit interview questions here. What do you feel about your relationship with your boss? How did they treat you? How well did they support you? What was the best thing about them? Where did they go wrong?

Do not hesitate in giving suggestions for improvement. While it is wise not to harbor any negativity towards your ex-boss, it is imperative that you be honest about working with your ex-boss. For all you know, your comments regarding your ex-boss could be a revelation for the company. Remember that it is just feedback and it is immensely necessary.

Make sure that the feedback that you pass is constructive and that you don’t pass any personal remarks which will show you in a poor light. Keep your criticism as objective as possible as this talk will be passed on to the manager as well so that they are given a chance to improve their work.

"There is no upside to bashing the company you are exiting. None.”- Manciagli

Best Exit Interview Question #5

“What did you dislike about the job here?”

This is again one of the best exit interview questions as you are giving the leaving employee an opportunity to explain in graphic detail about the things they disliked working at the company. Perhaps there was rampant miscommunication and tasks were not assigned to people with clarity. Maybe the company needs restructuring, not only in terms of designation but with respect to the workings as well. Maybe you didn’t like meetings in the morning, which, according to you, takes away the best part of the day to work.

Do not think of this as a way to vent your feelings, but as a means to make things right one last time before you leave. Be honest with your opinion and use this opportunity wisely and share your reservations with the HR who is asking you these best exit interview questions.

Best Exit Interview Question #6

“Is there anything we could have done to encourage you to stay?”

The answer to this question will mostly be subjective, but there are times when you get an idea or two on how to retain employees. Asking such a question also shows the employee that you valued his/her service and if the circumstances were any different, the business would have done anything to keep the employee back on their rolls.

In fact, we consider this question as one of the best exit interview questions because you cannot get more direct than this. It will also give the employees an opportunity to open up to the management like never before. Certainly, there is no way they expect you to recant on your decision to move on when they ask this question, this is only to gauge what they could have done better.

“People talk. It's your reputation and your personal brand on the line. And those will travel with you wherever you go.”- Michael Kerr

Best Exit Interview Question #7

If you could change anything about your job, what would you change?

This question will help the company in understanding the biggest reason for you leaving the job unless it is higher pay or for personal reasons that you are quitting. The question is also framed nicely because it shows that they are willing to make a change without the employee having to be uncomfortable which would happen had they been asked: “Why are you leaving the firm?”.

The suggestions do not come across as complaints and the employee is happy to talk about things which bothered them without being confrontational. We rank this as one of the best exit interview questions because the employee is given the opportunity to talk about issues that bothered him/her enough to quit the job and the company gets enough information to make sure that the same mistakes are not committed.

Best Exit Interview Question #8

“Did you feel like your job description changed since you were hired? If yes, how?”

It is impossible to expect that your work only revolves around the Job Description (JD) that was spelled out to you during your joining. Companies change, business models change and there are chances that even the management changes. In such a volatile environment, it is a little unfair on the employee’s part to expect the same.

In startups, JDs are not necessarily the final thing. When you work in a startup, the job role changes a lot because things keep changing at a rapid pace. An employee who wants to grow fast will not think twice about working on newer and unique projects which not only makes the CV attractive but also makes a well-rounded personality out of them. As one of the best exit interview questions, it is possible to glean a lot of information from what employees usually expect and their tolerance level for work that is out of their comfort league.

Do not make your exit interview so awkward that it provokes people to burn bridges.

Best Exit Interview Question #9

“What qualities should we look for in the person who will replace you?”

This question helps both the employer and the employee as it helps them look inwards. The employer gets to know what they should look for in the person who is going to replace the employee and hearing it from the horse’s mouth itself brings in a lot of clarity. When the employee provides the answer for this question, which is one of the best exit interview questions, it makes them take a hard look at who they are and if they fulfill the criteria of the qualities that they themselves have listed out to the HR in this question.

There might have been a lot of changes that happened in the work and only the person who worked last in the particular role would be able to give the right answers and this is why it is wise to pick their brains. Ask the employee to provide a checklist of expectations so that it is easy to narrow down to the right candidate.

Best Exit Interview Question #10

“Were you given clear goals and objectives?”

There are lots of actions that you can take no matter the kind of answer that you get from this question. If it is a yes, the business needs to find out who lays out the goals and objectives and the person-in-charge of making sure that they are held accountable. If not, they need to find out why didn’t the action plans that were designed for the entire company did not trickle down to this particular employee. In short, if the answer is yes, then make sure that it is replicated. If the answer is no, find out where there are roadblocks and work on it.

Best Exit Interview Question #11

“What did you like most about your job?”

As an employer, you do know that the biggest factor for conducting an exit interview is to understand the areas where you went wrong and how you can improve them. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t identify the good things that happened and revel on it. It is a must that you find out what exactly the employee liked about the job. You can also measure if the other employees feel the same way and if they don’t, how you can provide the same experience for them too. This knowledge helps you to see what is liked by your customer and work accordingly towards achieving that common goal.

Best Exit Interview Question #12

“Do you have any other questions to ask or issues that you want us to address”

It is one of the best exit interview questions because it is open-ended and at the end of the interview when the employee is much more comfortable, thanks to the line of questions asked, they might be more open to asking the tough questions. In fact, there is a lot riding on this question as the employee might go all guns blazing, which is also a good thing because the feedback can be really important as the HR might end up knowing about sensitive issues like racism, favoritism, nepotism and more.

Make sure that the employee is poised to answer this question if not, there might not be much that you will get out of it. If there are bad apples in the organization, it needs to be thrown out and only someone who doesn’t have much to lose will be able to speak out against injustices that occurred during their stint at your company.

Conclusion

The best exit interview questions will collect a lot of information that will help the company to improve its processes, systems, and the environment and so on. When a business is conducting the exit interview, make sure that it is not the immediate superior who is asking all the questions. It is usually someone from the HR department but there is no hard and fast rule surrounding it.

When the exit interview is over, make sure you let the employee part ways on a positive note by wishing the employee good luck. The interviewer should ask for clear-cut ways to improve the work environment and if there are any steps that the employee would like to suggest.

Asking the best exit interview questions for your employees might also be a case of too little too late as the employee would have expected to have them resolved when they were working there. Set up grievance redressal cells and carry out regular employee pulse surveys so that all issues can be resolved easily as and when the employee is with the company itself instead of having to address them when they are leaving, which doesn’t make a lot of difference to them.

Mathew Maniyamkott
Mathew Maniyamkott

Guest Blogger at SurveySparrow

Regular contributor to various magazines. Passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and productivity.

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