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To elicit more useful information during an exit interview, ask these questions

Posted by Shivali Anand

March 14, 2022    |     4-minute read (717 words)

An exit interview is a conversation between a business and a departing employee. Employers usually conduct these interviews in person or by videoconference, but they may also take place by phone or through a written or online questionnaire.

So, why do businesses conduct an interview with someone leaving the company? In the past, many business leaders paid little attention to the usefulness of the tool. However, more businesses are implementing exit interviews, based on the assumption that they will produce information that can improve retention, which is particularly important in the era of the Great Resignation

 In short, exit interviews are conducted by companies to:

• Identify the reasons behind an employee's resignation.
• Gather data to better understand employee churn.
• Compile feedback on how to improve the workplace.
• Identify underlying issues and thereby avoid letting problems fester.
• Obtain candid input regarding job duties, growth, leadership, mission and compensation.

We’ve compiled the 11 exit interview questions below to help uncover the hidden intelligence your business needs to stay competitive in the knowledge economy.

Q1: Why did you join our organization, and what drove you to hunt for a new job?

Posing this question can help you pinpoint not only what drew the employee in, but also what turned them away. Turnover is a part of every business, but attrition that could have been prevented is a serious issue. 

Q2: What prompted you to take a new position?

The answer to this question should help you understand what competitors are doing better than you, from an employee’s perspective. Work from home and other flexible arrangements, for example, have become the new standard in many employees’ minds. Are you meeting these expectations?

Q3: Can you tell me about your achievements and challenges?

It’s just as important to understand a departing employee's good experiences at the company as it is to understand the bad ones. Consider asking the employee about the highs and lows of the job to encourage conversation.

Q4: How would you define the company’s culture?

Employee retention is higher in companies with a positive work culture. This question helps you gauge company culture from the perspective of employees. You may also want to inquire about how well the company is addressing diversity and inclusion.

Q5: Did you get adequate training and opportunities to advance your career?

If you want individuals to stay for the long haul, you need to provide them with skills and opportunities for professional development. This question should reveal whether the departing employee saw their role’s growth possibilities as comparable to industry norms.

Q6: Did you have access to the necessary technology?

Asking this question can help optimize the technologies your business makes available to staff. It is important to know if employees are leaving, at least in part, because they didn’t have the digital tools they needed to be productive, or if they feared the company’s existing technology would make them unmarketable.

Q7: Did you have any difficulties working with your teammates?

The goal of this question is to find out whether, in this employee's opinion, your organization provides enough room for employees to grow or is dismissive of employees’ viewpoints.

Q.8: Were your efforts respected and acknowledged?

The response to this question matters because employees’ happiness hinges largely on receiving constructive comments and feeling valued. You may also want to ask whether they received timely feedback on their work.

Q.9: How is the organization's work-life balance?

Employees have increasingly been demanding a better work-life balance since the pandemic set in. Many employees are prepared to leave or look for a new job if they are unable to balance their personal and professional lives. 

These follow-up questions can help home in on work-life balance:

• Did you frequently work late or bring work home?
• Do you think leave policies are fair and inclusive?

Q10: Do you have any suggestions on how we could improve?

Companies that aim to build strong relationships with departing workers may have a better chance of rehiring them. Aim to make this an open-ended question, and avoid becoming defensive.

Q11: What would convince you to stay with the company or return in the future?

Ask this question toward the end of the exit interview to elicit information you may not have heard yet.

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