In a perfect world, exit interview questions would be unnecessary. You would hire great talent, they would grow with your organization, and you would benefit from mutual support throughout the relationship. If there was a problem, it would be obvious and clearly communicated.

Sadly, we don’t live in that fictional world. Problems occur. Mismanagement happens. Employees leave for any number of reasons. It’s important to delve into the whys and wherefores of the situation each time with an exit interview.

Exit Interview Questions: How to Surface Critical Insights from Departing Employees

Exit interviews provide a critical opportunity to glean information that can and should be used to make necessary changes within your business. However, gaining access to that information can be challenging. Most employees will be more than a little reticent to share data that might be used against them at some point. The right exit interview questions can help ensure that you’re able to surface insights while putting the departing employee at ease.

Of course, creating accurate exit interview questions that shed light on areas that need improvement is not as easy as it sounds. In this guide, we’ve included examples of questions to ask during an exit interview broken down into different sections/topic areas.

Best Practices for Exit Interview Questions

Before we explore the actual exit interview questions, it’s important to establish some ground rules. Follow these best practices to help ensure success.

  • Customize your exit interviews by section and make sure to have at least one that includes open-ended questions.
  • Don’t just make your questions multiple choice. Provide answer options to the exit interview questions, but also provide space for the employee to expand on their answer in written form.
  • Keep all answers confidential and make sure that the employee knows that you will not share their identity. This will encourage them to share openly and honestly.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask pointed questions – the goal here is to surface information that might not be available through other means so that you can address problems and shortcomings.
  • Remember that the goal of exit interviews is twofold – you’re making the employee feel seen and heard, while also gathering the information needed to build a better, stronger organization that sees fewer employees jump ship.

With that out of the way, let’s get started with the exit interview questions.

Experience as an Employee

The following questions all revolve around the employee’s experience working for the organization, including the level of support and training provided.

  1. On average, I looked forward to each day at work.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I was able to engage in professional development during my time with the organization.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I built strong, meaningful relationships with coworkers and team members.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I was able to disconnect from work during downtime without any problem.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I felt a strong sense of belonging within my team, department, and organization.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree

Recognition of Achievement

The questions in this section revolve around the employee’s perception of how they were recognized for the wins and achievements during their time with the company.

  1. Leaders and managers at the organization encourage giving praise and recognition.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I was recognized for my contributions and achievements regularly.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I felt that my contributions to the organization were compensated fairly.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I was satisfied with my rewards and benefits package, which included recognition bonuses and other perks.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree

Managerial/Leadership Effectiveness

Make sure to ask exit interview questions that revolve around the effectiveness of management/leadership in the employee’s opinion.

  1. My manager was dedicated to clear, ongoing communication and set expectations that I easily understood.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. My manager provided constructive feedback regularly to help me develop in my role within the organization.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. My manager was happy to take the time to discuss my career path and job aspirations while I was part of the organization.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. My manager showcased empathy and understanding during my time here.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I would be happy to work with my manager again.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree

Training and Development

It’s important to ask exit interview questions that pertain to the level of training and development provided as they relate to the employee’s position initial position, the position held at the time of leaving, and their overall career path.

  1. Before taking my role, my responsibilities were accurately explained to me.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. The onboarding experience included plenty of information to prepare me for my role within the organization.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. When I needed help, I knew where to go and felt comfortable asking for it.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I was provided with the tools and training I needed to complete my responsibilities.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I was provided with professional training to help advance my career beyond my current position.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree

Workload and Responsibilities

Within this section, we’ve included important questions about workload, responsibilities, and expectations placed on the employee.

  1. I feel that my workload and responsibilities were reasonable and fit with the role.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I could see that my efforts contributed to my team reaching our goals and my manager was able to clarify how my contributions affected the organization’s success.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I was encouraged to try new things and pursue innovation. Failure was not punished.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. When I had questions about my role or responsibilities, my manager was able to answer them quickly and accurately.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree

About the Organization

The questions in this section allow the employee to share their thoughts on the organization, its direction, and other important topics.

  1. I feel that this company is heading in the correct direction.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I would recommend employment with this organization to a friend or family member.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I would be happy to consider working with the company again in the future.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. If I return to this organization, it would be in a different role.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree

Questions About the Future

Take a few moments to learn more about the employee’s plans, as this can shed light on why they are leaving.

  1. I will pursue a similar position within the same industry.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. I intend to change career paths with a new employer.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree
  1. The experience I gained at this organization will help me in my future career.
    1. Strongly agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly disagree

Open-Ended Questions/Essays

In addition to multiple-choice questions like those above, you should also provide employees with open-ended questions and space to answer them. These can allow an employee to fully express their thoughts about a wide range of important topics, from why they are leaving to any necessary changes that might make them consider returning.

  1. What is the primary reason for you leaving the organization?
  1. What is the secondary reason for you leaving your current role?
  1. What is the tertiary reason for you leaving the organization?
  1. Was there a particular incident or moment that spurred you to make this decision?
  1. What did you find most rewarding about your time with us?
  1. What was the most challenging situation or potion of your experience with us?
  1. Would you consider returning? What changes would need to be made for you to return?
  1. In a few words, please describe your experience working here.
  1. If you have already decided, where will you be working after leaving this organization?
  1. What was it about that organization that attracted you/made you submit your resume?

In Conclusion

With these exit interview questions, it should be simpler to delve into the data surrounding employees leaving the organization. You can then put that information to work and make changes where necessary.