Do you want honest feedback about company culture, morale, management, and your business as a whole? Don’t look to your existing employees for that information. Their answers can be clouded by the desire to keep their job.
Look, instead, to those employees who are leaving. They have nothing to gain and nothing to lose.
But how, exactly, can you get that honest feedback? By instituting an exit interview process. Many managers wonder how to get the valuable information they’re looking for. It all comes down to the questions you ask.
In this article, Sling’s experts have created a list of the 27 best exit interview questions. You can pick and choose according to your needs, or use them all to gain deep insight into your employees and your company.
The Best Exit Interview Questions To Improve Your Business
1) Why Did You Start Looking For Another Job?
The answers you get to this question will be as unique and the individuals who give them. That’s because everyone starts looking to switch jobs for different reasons. The important insight comes over time when you start to detect common themes in the answers.
2) Why Are You Leaving?
Some may see these first two questions as the same, but they’re actually very different. Your employee may have started looking to switch jobs for one reason. But she may have made the final decision for a host of other reasons.
These two questions help you determine everything that prompted her to leave—from initial dissatisfaction to the final straw that broke the camel’s back.
3) What Does Your New Position Offer That Influenced Your Decision To Leave?
The answer to this question will indicate the specifics of where your company is lacking. It could be company culture. It could be pay or benefits. It could be lack of flexibility. It could be any number of things.
The important thing to remember is that the information the outgoing employee provides can be used to pick up the slack where your company has fallen short.
4) What Could We Have Done Better?
Again, this may seem similar to question three, but the answer explores a different side of the issue. Say, for example, that an employee responded to question three with, “more professional development opportunities.” That answer insinuates that the number of opportunities is important.
But when asked question number four, he may offer this advice: “Actively promote professional development and motivate employees to reach out.” So maybe it’s not the number of opportunities you offer, but the promotion of those opportunities that is the real key. Asking both questions in tandem can reveal these finer points.
5) Would You Ever Consider Returning To This Company?
Be prepared for a yes or no answer to this question, but probe a little deeper by asking a follow-up question like, “What circumstances would change your mind?” View those answers as a way to improve retention and keep key positions filled.
6) What Could We Have Done To Keep You Here?
This question will often tease out more reasons why the employee felt dissatisfied with her job and started looking for another. Because you are asking a very direct question, you may get a series of direct answers. But that can be very valuable.
Answers like more pay, more benefits, more advancement, can reveal a lot when you correlate them with the employee’s term at your company. If she received regular raises but was still dissatisfied with her pay, maybe the raises need to more frequent.
7) Did You Feel Equipped To Do The Job Here?
Asking this question gives you direct insight into how to train new employees. It can even help you understand how to retrain your existing employees.
You may receive straight answers that make you feel uncomfortable (no one likes to be confronted with their failures), but you’ll also receive actionable information with which you can make immediate changes.
8) Were You Comfortable Talking To Your Manager?
The unique thing about this question is that it reveals details about two individuals—the outgoing employee and the manager.
First and foremost, you can use the information you glean from the employee’s answer to improve the performance and development of the manager who still works for your company. Second, you can use the information to help in finding a new employee for the team.
9) What Things Could Your Manager Have Done Better?
Questions four and six deal more with the company as a whole. Question nine helps you dig into the specific things the employee’s manager could have done better. This question helps you peel back the layers to see what’s going on in the trenches.
10) How Would You Describe Our Company Culture?
What you’re looking for with this question isn’t a specific example but, rather, the overall trend that your outgoing employees identify. You may get some outliers (e.g., answers from employees who are emotional or who have a bad opinion of the business), but, over time, you’ll start to see your company culture.
For example, if you have 50 employees who say that the company culture is open and honest (or words to that effect) and 10 employees who say that it is something else, that gives you a fairly accurate idea of how your business is perceived.
11) Did You Share Your Concerns With Anyone At The Company?
This question reveals another side of the company culture in which the outgoing employee worked. If the employee describes the company culture as open and honest but didn’t voice their concerns for fear of reprisal, there may be more going on than is first expressed.
12) Did You Feel Like A Valuable Part Of The Company?
If the answer to this question is no, use it as an indicator that there may be others in your organization who feel the same way. Remember, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The answer to this question can help you discern the problem and help you take steps to remedy the situation before it becomes a bigger issue.
13) Did You Have All The Tools You Needed To Succeed At Your Job?
You don’t often see what goes on on a daily basis in other parts of your company, just like other employees don’t see what goes on in your job. This question helps you see where you can improve the workplace environment (e.g., training, resources, work conditions, etc.) that is so important to continued success.
14) Do You Feel Your Job Description Changed Since You Were Hired? How?
The way we work is constantly in flux, so it should come as no surprise if an employee indicates that his job changed while he worked at your company. Take the information this employee gives and use it to update the job description before starting the hiring process. That way, you can be sure you are looking for the right skills to fill the vacant position.
15) What Qualities Do You Think We Should Look For In Your Replacement?
Question fourteen dealt with skills. Question fifteen deals with qualities. Yes, the job may have changed from one that focused on phone communication to one that focused on written communication (a skills-based change). But it also may have changed in regard to some of the softer qualities like patience, people skills, and organization.
Asking the outgoing employee what qualities you should look for in her replacement is an excellent indication of this change.
16) What Was The Best Part Of Your Job?
Like question one, the answers you get to this question will be as varied as your employee’s personalities. But, over time, you’ll start to notice similar answers pop up again and again. Take that information and promote these good aspects of the job.
17) What Was The Worst Part Of Your Job?
Everyone will have a different answer—even if they’re performing the same job. But as you gather more and more responses, trends will start to emerge in the data.
Don’t dismiss any answers—always look for ways to minimize the difficulties—but when an answer becomes more common, focus your energy on solving that problem.
18) What Was Your Best Day On The Job Like?
The heart of this question is employee engagement. You want to discern what an employee in this position likes and what makes him feel successful. Use the information he gives you to help you answer this question: “Is there a way to make more days like the best day?”
19) What Was Your Worst Day On The Job Like?
This question is the mirror image of question fourteen but helps you see where your company may be lacking in terms of employee engagement. Again, use the answers you get to help you determine if there’s a way to make fewer days like the worst day.
20) How Would You Improve Employee Morale?
Just hours ago, this employee was in the thick of things. He was dealing with company culture and being influenced by others’ morale first-hand. Living through that on a day-to-day basis gives him unique insight into how that morale and culture can be improved. This is the time to find out what he thinks.
21) Were You Given Clear Goals And Objectives?
If the answer is yes, find out where those goals came from and promote the process. If the answer is no, make a change so that employees see that their work is part of a larger purpose and that they’re not just an unimportant cog in the machine.
22) Did You Receive Feedback To Help You Improve?
No one wants to feel like they’re stuck in a rut, especially at work. So if an employee feels stagnant, it’s vital that you know about it sooner rather than later.
When you’ve identified a floundering employee, the best way to inspire them to greatness again is by providing constructive feedback to help them improve. Maybe they need to focus on a different aspect of the job or go back to basics to perfect their skills.
Whatever the solution, managers should be ready and willing to provide guidance to help employees get better at their jobs. If an outgoing employee didn’t receive that guidance, you have some changes to make.
23) What Would You Change About Your Job?
The answer to this question can help you see whether or not you need to change this particular position before you hire someone else. If the job itself caused the employee to leave, you may be hiring someone into a volatile position. Make the position better and you avoid high turnover in the future.
24) Would You Recommend Our Company To A Friend Looking For A Job?
If at all possible, you want the answer to this question to be yes. It indicates the success of the company as a whole. The outgoing employee may be dissatisfied with small aspects of her job, but you want her to talk positively about the company. If she wouldn’t recommend your company to her friend, find out why and then fix it.
25) How Can We Improve Our Training And Development?
Employees leave for a variety of reasons, but one of the most common is that they didn’t feel they were growing, developing, and improving as much as they would like. If that is the case with your outgoing employees, they’ll let you know how you can improve in that regard when you ask them this question.
Remember, training and development are less about learning new skills or advancing up the ranks and more about keeping employees engaged in the work they have. If you can identify better ways to do that, you can reduce attrition and increase employee retention.
26) Would You Provide Specific Examples?
This question is a follow-up when you need more information. If an answer is vague or too general, don’t be afraid to ask for more information (even specific examples). The answers to this follow-up may reveal issues you can easily fix—and, ultimately, prevent another employee from leaving for the same reason.
27) Do You Have Any Other Issues Or Comments You’d Like To Address?
This is a very open-ended question, so it invites the employee to comment on topics that may not have been addressed in the other questions. It’s also potentially volatile in that it can reveal things you weren’t aware of and may not want to hear.
But those things you weren’t aware of can fester and spread and infect your employees writ large, not just a select few. Better to get it out in the open now so you can make the necessary changes.
Don’t Wait For The Exit Interview To Ask These Questions
Want to gather this information before your employees decide to leave? Incorporate these questions into your performance reviews. Identifying concerns before they become problems can help you retain valuable employees and keep your business running smoothly.
And don’t be afraid to ask whether their work schedule was amongst the reasons they decided to leave. There are many scheduling options out there, such as:
It would be a shame to lose a valuable employee over something as easily changeable as schedule.
And if you’re wondering how to actually schedule those alternatives, the Sling app can help. It provides powerful tools, including onboard artificial intelligence, to help you schedule five, 10, or 100 (or more) employees quickly and easily.
When you use Sling to manage your employees, you can dedicate more time to ensuring that your team members have what they need to do their jobs well and that you don’t have to ask these exit interview questions again.
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.