An exit interview is a face-to-face conversation or online survey completed when an employee leaves an organization. The purpose of the interview is to understand the employee’s reason for leaving and gain honest feedback on their experience working for the organization.
Exit interviews are usually conducted on the last day of work and involve the departing employee and a manager or HR representative.
What is an exit interview?
An exit interview is a final conversation between management representatives and an employee who is leaving an organization, either due to voluntary or involuntary departure.
The interview can be conducted face-to-face (physically or virtually) or via an online survey. An effective exit interview asks constructive questions to gain valuable employee feedback on their job satisfaction, employee experience, and their reason for leaving.
Exit interviews are not legal requirements, and they can’t be demanded by a former employer unless the employee signs an employment contract that specifies an exit interview as part of company policy.
Why should you conduct an exit interview?
An effective exit interview is a valuable tool to boost employee engagement, improve company culture and retain employees by meeting specific needs.
Other benefits of exit interviews include:
- End the working relationship on a positive note by offering professional closure
- Ensure an efficient departure by discussing obligations for equipment returns, non-compete clauses, and intellectual property agreements
- Provide a safe space for an exiting employee to provide constructive feedback and for HR professionals to ask questions
- Deal with any concerns and manage conflict privately, avoiding airing grievances in front of team members
- Improve employee retention by identifying gaps in satisfaction
How to conduct an exit interview?
Human resources and management are tasked with managing employee satisfaction. While the job interview ensures that the correct employee settles into a new job, the exit interview checks for ways to improve the experience for someone filling the new position after they leave.
Establishing the right expectations and keeping an open mind are key elements of a successful exit interview. Other preparation tips, such as these, should also be considered by the HR manager.
- Manage expectations by ensuring that the employee understands the purpose of the scheduled meeting
- Encourage open communication by requesting someone other than the employee’s direct manager conduct the interview
- Create a safe and honest space by reminding the employee about confidentiality
- Prepare for the meeting by drafting a list of appropriate and useful questions in advance
- End the relationship on a positive note by expressing excitement about the employee’s future
- Take feedback on board and implement relevant commentary in the work environment
15 questions to ask during the exit interview
Each employee’s experience is unique, and some conversations may develop based on the answers to prepared questions. However, it's important to create a template of exit interview questions to guide the conversation.
Questions on the reason for leaving
Consider the following common questions as a starting point, helping to understand why the employee handed in their resignation letter.
- Why are you leaving the company?
- What does your new role and employment opportunity offer that we don’t offer?
- Is there anything that we could have done to retain your employment?
- Would you ever consider returning to our company, either in the same or a different capacity?
Questions on management
The following questions offer a more granular assessment of everyday experiences in the employee’s role.
- Was your manager approachable to discuss concerns?
- Where could your manager improve in their work?
- Were you regularly offered constructive feedback and given clear objectives?
Questions on the job description
If you’re looking to fill the vacant position, then the following questions will help retain the new employee.
- What was your favorite part of your job?
- What was the worst part of your job?
- How would you change the job if given the opportunity?
Questions on the onboarding and company culture
In a modern world of work, with global teams and remote structures, these questions are important for managing employee satisfaction and engagement.
- How could we improve training and development in this position?
- What are your thoughts on the existing company culture?
- Did you feel valued working for our company?
- Would you refer a friend to work for our company?
- What qualities should we prioritize when looking for your replacement?
At Deel, we help to streamline the global work environment by offering a comprehensive platform for onboarding, payroll, and tips on what to include in an international employee contract.