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Top 64 Exit Interview Questions (2024 Examples List)
May 17, 2024

Let's face it, exit interviews can feel like an awkward chore. But what if we told you they could also be a goldmine of information? A chance to hear unfiltered truths from employees leaving the company, shedding light on what's really going on in your workplace. The good, the bad, and everything in between. But it all hinges on asking the right exit interview questions.

And since great employees are hard to find, you need to take advantage of the opportunity to discover both why they left, and the working experience they had at your company. With insights from departing employees, you can evaluate if your current employees are at risk, as well as what gets them excited, what roadblocks they face, and what you could do differently to keep them on your team.

In this article, we'll be taking a closer look at exit interviews and provide a big list of 64 sample exit interview questions you can use when offboarding employees.

Take me to the 64 questions:

What is an exit interview?

An exit interview is a structured conversation between an employer and a departing employee. It's typically conducted on or near the employee's last day of work, and it serves as a final opportunity for both parties to exchange valuable information.

The primary goal of the exit interview process is to gain insights into the employee's experience at the company. This feedback can then be used to identify areas for improvement, improve retention efforts, and create a more positive work environment for remaining employees.

During an exit interview, you'll typically ask the employee a series of questions about their job, their manager, the company culture, and other relevant topics. You may also allow your employee to share their overall thoughts and impressions of the company.

Nevertheless, exit interviews aren't about pointing fingers or dredging up past conflicts. Instead, they’re a chance to have a constructive, two-way conversation. By creating a safe, respectful space, you open the door to honest feedback that can be incredibly valuable for both the departing employee and your company.

Why do companies conduct exit interviews?

Employers conduct exit interviews for a variety of reasons:

  1. Uncover root causes of turnover: Exit interviews provide a unique opportunity to explore the reasons why employees are leaving. Understanding these underlying causes can help your company identify trends early and proactively address issues to reduce future turnover.
  2. Improve employee retention: By listening to your former employees' feedback, your company can gain insights into what factors contribute to job satisfaction and dissatisfaction – valuable knowledge that can be used to improve retention strategies and employee morale for those who remain.
  3. Refine company culture: Exit interviews offer a candid snapshot of your company culture – the good, the bad, and the areas ripe for growth. This unfiltered feedback is a goldmine for cultivating a workplace that not only retains your top performers but also magnetizes the brightest talent in your industry. 
  4. Identify management & leadership issues: It’s not uncommon for exiting employees to leave due to issues with their manager or the overall leadership style of the company. Exit interviews can shed light on these problems, allowing for targeted interventions and improvements in management practices for the sake of current and future employees.
  5. Gather data & insights: Exit interviews provide a wealth of data that can be analyzed to identify opportunities and areas for improvement. This data can be used to inform decision-making, shape HR strategies, and drive positive change within the organization.
  6. Mitigate legal risks: Exit interviews can serve as a platform for employees to voice any concerns or complaints they may have about their employment experience. Addressing these issues promptly and professionally can help mitigate legal risks and protect the company's reputation.
  7. Strengthen employer brand: When employees feel genuinely heard and valued during their exit interview, it leaves a lasting positive impression. This goodwill ripples outward, strengthening your company's reputation as an employer and making it a magnet for top-tier talent in the future.
  8. Benchmark against industry standards: Benchmarking your exit interview data against industry standards provides a valuable yardstick for measuring your company's performance in areas like employee satisfaction and retention. This comparison can pinpoint exactly where your company needs to level up its game to attract and keep top talent in today's competitive landscape.

How many questions should you ask in an exit interview?

While there's no magic number, it's generally recommended to keep your exit interview concise, ideally between 30 and 60 minutes. That way, you get the most valuable information from the employee while respecting their time.

When it comes to the number of questions, aim for 5-10 open-ended questions. This allows employees to elaborate on their experiences and provide more insightful feedback. Focus on open-ended questions that begin with "how," "why," or "what" rather than closed-ended questions with a "yes" or "no" answer.

To make sure you get a comprehensive overview of your employee's entire experience, we've put together a list of exit interview questions across five key areas: their overall experience, their role and responsibilities, their interactions with management, the company culture, and an opportunity for open-ended feedback

We recommend choosing 1 or 2 questions from each category. This will provide you with a well-rounded understanding of your employee's perspective on their time at the company.

The 64 Best Exit Interview Questions

General exit interview questions (16 examples)

These broad questions set the stage for a candid conversation and can uncover insights into the overall employee experience:

1. Why are you leaving?

This is the most fundamental question, but, ideally, you'd want to go beyond the surface-level response. If an employee says they're leaving for a "better opportunity," gently probe to understand what that means. Were they seeking higher pay, more challenging work, better benefits, or a different work environment? Uncovering the underlying reasons can reveal valuable information about your company's strengths and weaknesses.

2. What did you like most/least about your job?

This question can help you pinpoint specific aspects of the role that were satisfying or dissatisfying. Were there particular tasks the employee enjoyed? Did they feel their skills were well-utilized? Identifying these elements can help you refine job descriptions, tailor training programs, or even redesign certain roles for greater employee satisfaction.

3. How would you describe the company culture?

This open-ended question invites the employee to share their honest perception of the company's values, atmosphere, social dynamics, and workplace environment. Their response can provide valuable insights into how well the company's culture aligns with the reality experienced by employees.

4. Did you feel valued and recognized for your contributions?

Recognition and appreciation are key drivers of employee engagement and retention. This question can reveal whether the company's current recognition efforts are effective or if there's room for improvement. It can also shed light on potential issues with management, communication, or performance feedback processes.

5. Would you recommend this company to a friend or colleague? Why or why not?

This question gauges the employee's overall satisfaction with the company and their willingness to endorse it as a potential employer. Their response can provide valuable feedback on the company's reputation, employee value proposition, and employer brand. It can also uncover areas where the company might need to improve to attract and retain top talent.

Additional general exit interview questions:

  • What prompted you to start looking for another opportunity?
  • What did you learn during your time here?
  • What skills or knowledge did you gain that you feel will be most valuable in your next role?
  • What were your expectations when you joined the company, and were they met?
  • How would you rate your overall experience working here?
  • How would you describe the company's mission and values?
  • Did you feel like you were able to make a meaningful impact during your time here?
  • What would need to change for you to consider returning to the company in the future?
  • How do you think the company could better support its employees?
  • What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the company?
  • What do you think are the company's greatest strengths?

Job-related exit interview questions (15 examples)

These questions center around the specifics of the employee's day-to-day experience, helping you identify areas where the role itself may have contributed to their decision to leave:

1. Did you feel your role was clearly defined and aligned with your expectations? 

Mismatched expectations are a common cause of dissatisfaction. This question can reveal whether the job description accurately reflected the actual responsibilities or if there was a disconnect between what the employees expected and what they experienced.

2. Did you have the resources and support necessary to be successful in your role? 

This question explores whether the employee felt equipped to do their job effectively. Did they have the tools, technology, training, or mentorship they needed? Identifying gaps in resources or support can help you address these issues and improve the overall employee experience.

3. Did you receive adequate training and development opportunities? 

A lack of growth opportunities is a major reason why employees leave. This question can help you gauge the effectiveness of your company's training and development programs and identify areas where you can provide more support for employee growth.

4. Were you satisfied with the compensation and benefits package? 

Compensation and employee benefits are important factors in job satisfaction, but they're not the only ones. This question can help you assess the competitiveness of your compensation and benefits package and identify any potential areas for improvement.

5. What aspects of the job did you find most engaging/challenging? 

This question can uncover hidden gems about the role itself. Perhaps there were certain tasks or projects that the employee found particularly rewarding or frustrating. This information can be used to refine job descriptions, tailor training programs, or even redesign certain roles for greater employee engagement.

Additional job-related exit interview questions:

  • Did you feel like your workload was manageable?
  • Were you satisfied with the level of autonomy and decision-making authority you had in your role?
  • Did you have opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from other departments?
  • Did you feel like your work was meaningful and impactful?
  • What aspects of your job would you like to see changed or improved?
  • If you could redesign your role, what would it look like?
  • Did you have clear goals and objectives for your work?
  • Were you given regular feedback on your performance?
  • Did you feel like your job responsibilities evolved over time?
  • Did you feel like you had opportunities to learn new skills and grow professionally?

Management-related exit interview questions (15 examples)

These questions focus on the employee's relationship with their direct manager and their perception of the overall leadership within the company:

1. How would you rate your relationship with your direct manager? 

This question can reveal whether the employee felt supported, valued, and respected by their manager. It can also uncover potential issues with communication, trust, or conflict resolution.

2. Did you feel your manager provided you with the support and guidance you needed? 

Effective managers provide their team members with the resources, feedback, and direction they need to succeed. This question can help you assess the manager's ability to coach, mentor, and empower their employees.

3. Did you feel comfortable communicating with your manager about any concerns or issues? 

Open communication is essential for a healthy manager-employee relationship. This question can help you gauge the level of trust and openness within the team and identify any potential communication barriers.

4. Did you feel there were opportunities for growth and advancement within the company? 

A lack of growth opportunities is a major reason why employees leave. This question can help you assess the company's career development programs and identify areas where you can provide more support for employee growth.

5. What could the company do to improve its management and leadership practices? 

This open-ended question invites the employee to share their honest feedback on the company's leadership style, decision-making processes, and overall management practices. This feedback can be invaluable in identifying areas for improvement and creating a more positive work environment.

Additional management-related exit interview questions:

  • How would you describe your manager's communication style?
  • Did you feel like your manager set clear expectations for your work?
  • Did you receive regular feedback from your manager on your performance?
  • Did you feel like your manager valued your opinions and ideas?
  • Did you feel like your manager created a positive and inclusive team environment?
  • Did you feel like your manager was invested in your professional development?
  • What qualities would you look for in an ideal manager?
  • Did you have opportunities to interact with senior leaders in the company?
  • How would you describe the overall leadership style of the company?
  • Do you feel like the company's leadership team is transparent and communicative?

Culture-related exit interview questions (15 examples)

These questions go beyond the day-to-day tasks and dive into the heart of the employee experience – how they felt about the company's culture, its values, and the overall work environment.

1. How well do you feel the company's values align with your own? 

A strong values alignment can cultivate a sense of belonging and purpose in employees. This question helps you gauge whether your company's stated values resonate with your workforce and whether they're being effectively communicated and embodied in daily operations.

2. How would you describe the overall work environment and company culture? 

This open-ended question encourages the employee to share their honest impressions of the company's atmosphere, social dynamics, and overall vibe. Their response can provide valuable insights into whether the culture is supportive, collaborative, inclusive, and conducive to employee well-being.

3. Do you feel there is open and honest communication within the company? 

Effective communication is the cornerstone of a healthy workplace culture. This question can help you assess the effectiveness of your company's communication channels, identify any communication barriers, and uncover areas where transparency and openness can be improved.

4. Did you feel like you were part of a team and that your contributions were valued? 

A sense of belonging and appreciation is crucial for employee engagement and motivation. This question can reveal whether the company fosters a collaborative and supportive environment where employees feel like their work matters.

5. What could the company do to foster a more positive and inclusive work environment? 

This question invites the employee to offer suggestions for improvement. Their feedback can be invaluable in identifying specific actions the company can take to create a more welcoming and inclusive workplace for everyone.

Additional questions:

  • How would you describe the level of collaboration and teamwork within your department and across the company?
  • Were there any company events or initiatives that you particularly enjoyed or found valuable?
  • Did you feel like your work-life balance was supported by the company?
  • Were there opportunities for social interaction and team-building outside of work?
  • How would you describe the company's approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion?
  • Did you feel like your voice was heard and your opinions were valued?
  • Were there any aspects of the company culture that you found challenging or uncomfortable?
  • How would you describe the company's commitment to social responsibility and sustainability?
  • What would you say is the company's biggest strength when it comes to its culture?
  • What do you think is the biggest area for improvement in the company's culture?

Open-ended exit interview questions (3 examples)

These questions allow the employee to reflect on their overall experience and offer any parting thoughts or suggestions:

1. What advice would you give to the company's leadership team? 

This question encourages the employee to share their perspective on how the company can improve from a strategic standpoint. Their insights may reveal potential blind spots in leadership's decision-making or highlight areas where the company could innovate or grow.

2. What changes would you make if you were in charge? 

This question empowers the employees to imagine themselves in a leadership role and suggest specific changes they would implement. Their answers can uncover unmet needs, overlooked opportunities, or innovative ideas that could benefit the company.

3. Is there anything else you'd like to share that we haven't discussed? 

This open-ended question allows the employee to express any final thoughts or concerns that haven't been addressed in previous questions. It's a chance to provide closure, share additional feedback, or offer words of encouragement for the future of the company.

Best practices for conducting effective exit interviews

Want to maximize the impact of your exit interviews? Follow these best practice tips: 

  • Create a safe space: Assure the departing employee that their feedback is confidential and won't negatively impact their references or future opportunities.
  • Choose a neutral interviewer: Ideally, the interviewer should not be the employee's direct manager to encourage candid responses.
  • Prepare thoroughly: Have a structured list of questions but be flexible enough to adapt to the conversation.
  • Active listening: Focus on understanding the employee's perspective and avoid interrupting or becoming defensive.
  • Take detailed notes: Capture key points and direct quotes for later analysis.
  • Ask open-ended questions: Encourage the employee to elaborate and share their thoughts in their own words.
  • Follow-up: If the employee raises any concerns or suggestions, take steps to address them and communicate the outcomes.
  • Analyze data: Review exit interview data regularly to identify trends and implement necessary changes.
  • Show appreciation: Thank the employees for their time and contributions to the company.

Turning exits into opportunities 🤝

Exit interviews, when done right, are so much more than a formality. They're a treasure trove of insights, a chance to learn, grow, and ultimately, create a better workplace for everyone. By asking the right questions and actively listening to your departing employees, you can uncover hidden opportunities for improvement and take proactive steps to enhance employee engagement, retention, and overall satisfaction.

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