Exit interviews help you as an organization understand why someone is leaving and what you can do better. The information you gather from these interviews can play an essential role in reducing future turnover and increasing job performance.
Here are the 12 most insightful exit interview questions to ask your departing employee.
Question 1: Why are you leaving?
This is the most fundamental of exit interview questions to ask. Since this interview aims to understand why your employee chose to leave and how you can improve, start with the obvious.
Why an employee chooses to leave may differ from what initially prompted them to look for a new job (more on that next). It may be better salary, benefits, work-life balance, or anything in between that ultimately caused them to switch to another company.
Question 2: Why did you start looking for another job?
This query should also be on your list of exit interview questions to ask your departing employee. While the first question gets at the ultimate reason an employee is leaving, this question seeks a more holistic understanding.
What prompted the person to start searching for a new position? Were they bored at their job, were they stretched too thin, or did they want to make a career change?
Question 3: What could our company have done better?
As a company, there’s always room for internal improvement. This improvement creates a more enticing work environment that encourages your employees to stay. As such, inquiring what your company could do better should be on your list of exit interview questions to ask.
This is an excellent opportunity to ask follow-up questions. Dive deep here and seek as much info as you can about how you as a company can improve.
Question 4: Were you given the tools and resources to succeed here? If not, how could we improve?
After asking the broad question of how you could improve, get more specific with this question. Does this soon-to-depart employee feel they were given the resources necessary to thrive? If not, what could you have done better?
This is one of many essential exit interview questions to ask as a business. You want to make sure you’re setting your employees up for success; if not, they’re far more likely to turn over.
Question 5: What were the biggest challenges you experienced working here?
Challenges aren’t necessarily bad, but you want to understand the ones your interviewee experienced. Notice how they talk about them. Do they discuss these challenges favorably, or is it clear they were overwhelmed?
Take stock of the challenges listed, and make sure they aren’t harming productivity or morale.
Related: 7 Essential Employee Benefit Examples to Attract and Retain the Best Talent
Question 6: Was your workload appropriate, or too little/much?
Your list of exit interview questions to ask should touch on workload. Considering 67% of employees feel that burnout has gotten worse during the pandemic, and that burnout is damaging to productivity and job satisfaction, you want to ensure workload remains fair.
Alternatively, if an employee’s workload was too light and that caused them to get bored, you’ll want to take note of this. Boredom and stagnation create turnover.
Question 7: How would you rate collaboration across your team and the company?
86% of people in leadership positions sight lack of collaboration as a top reason for failure at work. Further, employees tend to be 17% more satisfied with their work when they collaborate. Given the importance of collaboration in the workplace, use exit interviews as a way to gain insight into the state of it at your company.
Question 8: Would you ever consider working here again?
This is one of those exit interview questions that can be particularly insightful. If an employee says they’d consider working for your company again, their experience may not have been too bad. It may have been an employee’s own internal factors that caused them to leave (i.e., seeking a career pivot, change of pace, higher salary, etc.).
Conversely, if an employee admits they would not consider working at your company again, ask why, and take note. Whatever reasons they site should be issues your organization works to address.
Question 9: Were you comfortable talking with your manager? Could they have done anything better?
Your list of exit interview questions to ask should include discussing the interviewee’s relationship with their manager. According to a McKinsey report, well-connected teams (often using social technologies) are 20-25% more productive. An essential part of this is each employee’s relationship with their manager.
Does your interviewee feel they could talk with their manager? Did they trust this person? Was adequate and fair feedback given?
Question 10: Do you feel your job description is different now than when you were hired? How so?
It’s not uncommon for positions to evolve. With the departure of this current employee comes the hiring of a new one. Your job description needs to be highly accurate to set your company and that new hire up for success.
Ask the departing employee if they feel their job has evolved since being hired. Do they perform any tasks that weren’t initially advertised? Did specific responsibilities shift?
It’s worth noting that the best performing job descriptions average 8 distinct responsibilities. Do your best to synthesize what the departing employee says to keep responsibilities down to that amount. And importantly, don’t let those responsibilities creep up unfairly after someone is hired, as this can increase turnover.
Question 11: What was the worst part of your job?
This is one of those interview questions to ask departing employees that’s pretty self-explanatory. Gaining insight into an employee’s least favorite part of the job can help you determine if there are ways to make it more enjoyable. Could you, as the company, help ease their burden?
Question 12: What was the best part of your job?
The best part of an employee’s job is equally as insightful as the worst. What did this interviewee enjoy doing? Why did they enjoy it? Are you as a company able to make that a more central focus of this role to help future hires stay engaged?
Your final list of exit interview questions to ask should seek to determine why an employee is leaving and what you as a company can do better. The interview should be conversational – ask follow-up questions where needed.
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Related: 14 Impactful Employee Recognition Ideas to Improve Workplace Morale & Retention