The 20 Best Exit Interview Questions To Improve Your Business

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 and asking the right exit interview questions.

The Best Exit Interview Questions

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 twenty 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.

Best Exit Interview Questions

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?

Example of an employer's desk during an exit interview

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’re 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 be more frequent.

7) 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.

8) What Things Could Your Manager Have Done Better?

Questions four and six deal more with the company as a whole. Question eight 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.

9) Did You Feel Like A Valuable Part Of The Company?

Coworkers having an interview

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.

10) Did You Have All The Tools And Training 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., tools, training, resources, work conditions, etc.) that is so important to continued success.

11) 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.

12) What Qualities Do You Think We Should Look For In Your Replacement?

Question eleven dealt with skills. Question twelve 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 regards 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.

13) What Was The Best Part Of Your Job?

Woman working outside

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.

14) 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?”

15) 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 less days like the worst day.

16) How Would You Improve Employee Morale?

Coworkers having a meeting to discuss exit interview questions

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.

17) Did You Have, Or 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.

18) 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.

19) Would You Recommend Our Company To A Friend Looking For A Job?

Woman looking online 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.

20) 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.

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