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20 Best Exit Interview Questions To Ask

An employee leaving your company may or may not be bad for business. Whichever it is, you can leverage the situation and improve your company in the long run.

Your existing employees won’t always be truthful when asked about what they think about certain things. Most are reticent on significant issues to avoid getting fired or stirring up conflict with some other worker.

On the other hand, employees leaving your company have less to lose, so they’ll be more willing to give honest feedback.

However, you can only get such honest feedback that can help improve your business by asking the right questions.

Check out some of the best exit interview questions to ask in this article.

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Best Exit Interview Questions To Ask

1. Why are you leaving?

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The “why are you leaving” question is an ideal opener for exit interview questions. You likely already know why the employee is leaving the company.

However, asking the question helps keep things neutral, especially if the subsequent interview questions emphasize the reason for leaving.

Furthermore, you may think it’s a simple dismissal or resignation, but there may be more to the story, which the employee may be willing to share.

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2. How would you describe the company culture?

As mentioned earlier, much of the reason behind conducting an exit interview is to get feedback. “How would you describe the company culture” is a perfect question for general feedback.

You’re not asking about the employee’s personal experience or how to relate with someone. Instead, you’re asking what they think of the company as one entity. It’s like putting everything under an umbrella.

The employee can comment on the company’s ethics, values, and daily atmosphere. Then, you can analyze the feedback and decide if it’s the time of culture you want your company to maintain.

3. What did you like best and least about your job?

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Here’s a double-sided question. You’re indirectly asking for the employee’s best and worst memories of the workplace – what they’ll always remember when they leave.

While answering, the interviewee will likely try to compare and contrast what they liked best and least. Ultimately, it gives you a quick conclusion on if the employee had a positive or negative experience.

4. Did you have all you needed to succeed at work?

If the employee is resigning or was dismissed because they couldn’t perform up to par, this question helps set things straight.

Perhaps it wasn’t the employee’s fault they couldn’t perform, but instead, the company’s as they didn’t provide the necessary work tools. The feedback can help the company prepare and make things easier for whoever takes the position next.

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5. Did you feel that your accomplishments were acknowledged throughout your employment?

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The leaving employee may be someone that has been with the company for a long time and has likely achieved some notable milestones.

It’s reasonable if an employee decides to leave because they don’t feel appreciated enough for their achievements. You can find out when you ask this question.

Even if it’s the last thing you do for them, you can ensure the company recognizes their effort before they leave. It’ll make their memory of the workplace a better one and may even convince them to stay.

6. Would you encourage someone else to work in this company?

This question brings a direct answer. The interviewee will likely respond with a one-word answer like “Yes” or “No.”

They could also respond with phrases like “I would,” “I could,” “I don’t think,” “I believe so,” etc. Whatever the response is, it must either be positive or negative.

Typically, the employee will go on to explain the reason for their answer, especially if it’s negative.

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7. What should the company look for in your replacement?

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This is a personal question because you’re asking the employee to highlight their strengths and weaknesses.

The employee will mention skills and qualities that anyone taking his position must have – skills he may or may not have.

Once again, the employee gets a chance to comment on why they’re leaving – whether they were suitable for the job or not, in their opinion.

It takes courage for an employee to talk about skills they lack and would want their successor to have. Hence, the question extracts an honest response.

8. Describe the most enjoyable day you’ve had on the job?

No matter how bad an employee’s experience working for a company might be, there must have been a day when everything was perfect.

Since they’re leaving, it’s important that the memory of that day remains fresh in their minds so they have something positive to remember afterward.

If they haven’t thought about it, asking this question will help them reflect on that perfect day.

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9. Would you ever consider returning to this company?

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This is an excellent question to ask if the employee is leaving the company because they got a better job offer or because they want to advance their career.

If they enjoyed their time working for the company, there’s a high chance they’ll return if they get a better offer or if the company crosses their career path again.

10. How was your relationship with your manager?

Here you’re asking the employee to comment on how they related with someone – their manager. It could give you an overview of how their department’s manager relates with their subordinates.

Furthermore, the employee may have had multiple managers, especially if they’ve been working with the company for a long time. They can comment on the different managers and highlight who they performed best under.

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11. How would you rate our managerial skills?

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If you don’t want to be direct, you can go for a question like this to get feedback about department managers.

Asking an employee how they would rate the company’s managerial skills is indirectly asking them what they think of their managers.

However, since it’s a more general question, the employee can chip in on what they think of managerial skills in departments other than theirs.

12. Did the work we gave you match your expectations?

Sometimes, companies hire employees for a position and then assign them to another when they start working.

Most people will easily go with a different position if they feel they can handle it or if they just need the income. Ultimately, it’s a valid reason for wanting to leave.

If that’s the reason, the existing employee would most likely want to comment on it.

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13. Were your rights as an employee respected?

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In some workplaces, employees suffer different rights violations. There are discrimination, wage miscalculations, and sexual harassment, especially for women.

If your employee is leaving because of a rights violation, it’s awful news. Hence, this question is essential for maintaining your company’s image.

From the feedback, you could help the employee get justice – even if they’re leaving – and ensure such violations don’t reoccur.

14. Would you consider working in a different department of the same company?

When an employee announces their departure, it’s common to want to try and persuade them to remain, especially if their contributions mean a lot.

However, you should respect the employee’s decision, especially during the interview.

If you want feedback to know if they’ll consider staying in the company, you can ask indirectly with this question.

15. What ultimately led you to accept the new position?

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You could ask this question if the interviewee made it clear that they are leaving the company because they got a new job offer.

Many factors define what a new job offer entails. It could be because of salary, location, relativity with other businesses, etc. Ultimately, there’s one deciding factor.

From the response, you can compare your company side-by-side with the new company the employee is joining.

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16. Have you discussed your issues with anyone at the company before you decided to leave?

If the employee is leaving because of some office challenges or issues, this is an engaging question to ask.

Usually, employees should be able to file complaints if there’s anything they’re not comfortable with in the workplace. Perhaps the employee did, but their complaints were not treated accordingly.

If they didn’t, they could also have a reason, which they’ll clarify in their answer to this question.

17. Did you receive constructive feedback to help you improve your performance?

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Employees will perform better if they get constructive feedback on parts of their jobs where they’re slacking. Meanwhile, some employers outrightly dismiss low-performing employees or demote them, which could lead to their departure.

Allowing the interviewee to express their opinion about the feedback they got about their job performance will help you understand the criticism culture in the workplace. Ideally, the employee shouldn’t feel like a failure while leaving.

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18. Describe the worst day you’ve had on the job?

This contrasts with the earlier question that needed the employee to describe their best day. Nevertheless, it’s still an ideal question to make the interviewee reflect on their worst day working for the company.

No matter how bad the day was, they survived, which is why they could sit with you in an interview. Perhaps it’s a day they can laugh off, and afterward, it won’t be an entirely bad day anymore.

Furthermore, you should note the factors that made the day miserable. You can work on it and ensure other employees don’t experience such a day.

19. What would you do to boost employee morale if you could?

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This isn’t a question for anyone in a managerial or supervisory position – they did have the chance to boost employee morale.

It’s a question you should ask regular employees, and they’ll explain what their superiors could have done to help improve their zeal to work.

A regular employee is in the best position to say what would have potentially boosted their morale, not a manager, supervisor, or any other workplace superior.

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20. Do you have any more concerns or remarks you would like to make?

Just like it came last on this list, it’s ideal for the question to come at the end of the interview. No matter how many questions you ask, you can’t cover an employee’s entire experience at the workplace.

This question is like an AOB in a business meeting. The interviewee is now in charge of the discussion – they can bring up any topic they like and comment on it.

You should pay special attention to the topics they raise since you didn’t factor them into your questions.

Top Tips For Conducting Exit Interviews

Asking questions isn’t all that makes an exit interview successful; you must also follow standard interview etiquette.

Here are some top tips for conducting exit interviews.

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1. Pick The Right Interviewer

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The person who asks the questions is just as important as the questions. Their approach, tone, and facial expression may affect how the interviewee responds.

In most companies, an HR team member is in the best position to conduct an exit interview. This is because HR members are usually not too acquainted with workers outside their department.

As a result, they can approach the interview without bias, and the interviewee will be more willing to share honest responses. Ultimately, HR is the department that’ll work on the feedback to improve the company.

Sometimes, you may want to hire an external interviewer – someone from a different company, for example. Since there’s no familiarity, the exiting employee will be more relaxed.

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2. Plan Ahead

An exit interview is worth as much proper planning as any other interview. It shows you’re professional and also that you respect the existing employee.

Perhaps you have conducted many exit interviews in the past, so you feel there’s no need to prepare as it’s just another interview. It’s wrong because people are different – what one employee thinks about your company will vary significantly from another.

Importantly, learn about the tasks the employee undertook during their stay in the company. Learn about their office likes and dislikes.

All the questions listed above won’t apply to one employee. Planning will help you identify the best questions for each one.

One of the best ways of planning ahead is by sending a written survey. It’s helpful, especially with employees who are not very vocal; some employees can express themselves better in writing than through speaking.

Therefore, if you ask them to complete a survey, they could provide some vital information that they wouldn’t have said during the in-person interview. It’ll help you pick the right questions to ask.

Furthermore, it’ll also help the interviewee prepare. They’ll have time to brainstorm and come up with the best responses to the survey questions and be more prepared when interviewed in person.

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3. Pick The Right Time For The Interview

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Time is crucial in business and even more crucial to an employee who wants to exit a company.

Typically, an employee leaving a company will spend their last days preparing and making sure everything is in order before they leave.

If there’s someone around to take their position, they may be invested in acquainting the person with what the job entails. Scheduling an exit interview at the wrong time may stress them out.

Following standard business courtesy, your employee will likely submit a two-week notice before their resignation letter.

You can pick a suitable time for the interview within this two-week time frame. However, it’s ideal for it to be closer to his last day in office.

There’s nothing wrong if you schedule the exit interview for a date after the employee has left the company, so long as they agree with it.

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4. Pay Attention During The Interview

Assuming you’re conducting the interview, you should pay attention to the interviewee during the exit interview.

The best interviews are interactive. Everything doesn’t have to be by the book, so you may want to throw in an impromptu question or two as a follow-up to a response.

You can only come up with good impromptu questions if you’re paying attention. Otherwise, you may ask unnecessary and already answered questions.

Paying attention will also ensure you grab all the feedback you need, and it tells the employee that the interview is important to the company.

5. Hint How You Plan To Use Their Responses

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The exit interview will likely be done in private – and it’s best that it is. As a result, the interviewee will probably share many details if they believe everything is confidential.

If you plan to use the responses to improve your company, you’ll probably share them with some other employees in the company, especially heads of departments.

Hence, it’s courteous to let the interviewee know what you plan to do with their responses. You don’t have to be direct; a hint or two is enough.

Most employees won’t mind that you share their responses with others. However, they’ll likely point out one or two things they want to remain confidential, and you should respect that.

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Exit Interviews Dos and Don’ts

To conduct the best exit interview, here are some practical dos and don’ts to follow:

Dos

Inform the employee that you’ll be conducting an interview

You don’t want to catch the employee unaware by inviting them to a spontaneous interview. No matter the situation, an employee has the right to turn down an interview, which is likely if they’re not informed in time.

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Interview in person

With the rise of video conferencing and meeting platforms, you may want to conduct a virtual exit interview. However, it undermines the importance and effectiveness of the interview. Only conduct a virtual interview if it’s what the interviewee wants.

Make the employee feel relaxed

An interview can be a discussion or an interrogation. However, unless your employee has committed a crime and you’re the police, your exit interview should be a discussion. You should clarify that they can turn down any question they want, and nothing is compulsory.

Be neutral

Finally, you must be impartial during exit interviews. No matter who the interviewee is or what they have done to make them leave the company, you shouldn’t take sides. Avoid making insinuations or allegations.

Don’ts

Dig deep into office issues

The employee may bring up one or two office issues they find unsettling during the interview. Your job is to note this and work on making things better for others, not feeding into the problems. It may escalate the employee’s distaste.

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Bring up your views

If you want to share your views about the company, you should sit in the interviewee’s seat, not the interviewer’s. Allow the employee on the interviewer’s seat to share their views and opinions while you listen and ask questions. Don’t try to counter their views with yours.

Persuade them to remain

Many employers make this mistake when conducting an exit interview with an employee they don’t want to leave. It’s called an “exit interview” because it’s established that the employee will leave afterward. If you must persuade the employee to remain, do it off camera and not during the interview.

Focus on a person

The majority of your interview questions should be general. Suppose you keep asking the interviewee about a particular person or persons. In that case, it’ll appear like you’re trying to know about them rather than what the employee thinks about their work experience. You can ask questions about managers and supervisors but keep it general – not personal.

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Bottom Line

An exit interview is one of the most critical interviews in employees’ journey in your company. It gives them an avenue to share honest thoughts about the organization, and it shows reverence.

The questions listed in this article are some of the best exit interview questions you can ask. However, an interview is more than just a question-and-answer session; you should also follow the tips and dos and don’ts.