29 Exit Interview Questions to Improve Your Employee Experience (incl. template)

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Exit interview questions come in all shapes and sizes. They’re important to ask since the answers can provide you with a wealth of information. In this article, we’ve listed 29 must-ask exit interview questions to improve your employee experience. 

As you may know, there are three key enables when it comes to your employee experience

  • The technology (both hard and software)
  • The culture
  • The environment (physical space) 

During the exit interview, it is therefore good to include questions that cover these three areas – as well as, of course, the employee and his or her specific role. 

Contents
About the exit interview
Exit interview questions about the leaving employee
Exit interview questions about the job
Exit interview questions about the company culture
Exit interview questions about the work environment
Exit interview questions about the technology
Exit interview questions template
Beyond the exit interview
On a final note

About the exit interview

Ideally, the exit interview is part of a well-structured employee offboarding process. From a practical point of view, it’s good to keep in mind that:

  • It’s best to have a neutral third-party, like someone from the HR department, to hold the exit interview since employees may not always have a great relationship with their manager; you don’t want them to hold back or be overly positive when in reality they have valuable feedback. 
  • Employees remember their first day on the job, but they also remember their last. The exit interview is, therefore, a big part of how leaving employees will remember you as an employer so try to take all feedback seriously!

We’ll now take a look at 29 example exit interview questions to help you improve your employee experience. To make the list less overwhelming, we’ve divided the questions in 5 bite-sized categories: 

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  • questions about the leaving employee 
  • the job
  • the company culture 
  • the work environment 
  • the technology 

Some questions may, of course, qualify for several categories at the same time while others may not be relevant for your organization. If, for instance, your workforce is fully remote you won’t be asking the office-related questions. In other words: it’s a pick and choose according to your needs.  

The questions aren’t listed in a particular order. The categories, however, are; an employee is leaving the company and you want to learn from their feedback to improve your employee experience. Hence it makes sense to start with the most important part: the employee.  

Exit interview questions about the leaving employee

1. Why did you start looking for a different job?

The answers you’ll get to this question will vary widely. After all, people start looking for many different reasons; they might want a new professional challenge, a shorter commute, move cities because of their family, etc. 

Over time, however, as the data you gather increases, you will be able to detect common themes in the answers – and act upon the insights these will give you. 

2. What made you decide to leave?

This question may feel similar to the previous one. It isn’t. The reason someone starts looking to switch jobs doesn’t have to be the reason why they end up leaving. 

Passive candidates in particular aren’t actively searching for a new job to begin with. When approached by a recruiter with an interesting offer, however, they may leave nevertheless. Reasons can vary from better compensation and benefits, an exciting project, great career perspectives and so on.

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3. How was your relationship with your manager?

There is a common saying that employees don’t leave their job but that they leave their manager. While this isn’t always the case, you want people to be able to speak freely. This is why it’s good to have someone other than their manager do the exit interview. 

If, over time, it turns out that employees do leave (certain) managers in your organization, you’ll be able to address the issue directly with the managers involved. 

If, on the other hand, the feedback you get about certain managers tends to be super positive, you can use them as good leadership examples for the rest of the MT.     

4. What did you think of your onboarding when you first joined?

We briefly mentioned the importance of both an employee’s first and last impression of the company. The onboarding period is when the foundations for your employee-employer relationship are being laid. Do it well, and your employees are set up for a lasting, positive journey, do it wrong, and they’ll end up leaving prematurely.

The exit interview is a good moment to ask people about their onboarding experience as employees usually feel more comfortable giving honest feedback. 

5. Who is really kicking ass in the company/who do you admire?

If, for instance, the data shows that people tend to answer ‘my manager’ here, you can promote this manager’s leadership within the company. On top of that, you can make sure you give the manager – or any other employee who people admire – the recognition they deserve (if they didn’t get it already). 

6. Would you recommend our company to job-seeking friends? Why (not)?

This is an important question for your employer brand. Former employees can make or break your organization’s reputation as an employer. 

Jobseekers see ex-employees as a very reliable source since they experienced first hand how it was to work for your company. This is why you want them to be ‘happy leavers.’ If people consistently answer ‘no’ to this question for one or more particular reasons, you know you need to fix things.    

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7. Would you ever consider working for us again? 

People don’t necessarily want to leave the company. They may just feel that, at this moment in time, they have no opportunities to advance their career – and therefore leave. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t want to come back in the future when things have changed. 

Asking this question, followed by ‘what circumstances would need to change for you to come back’ can help you improve your retention.  

Exit interview questions

Exit interview questions about the job

8. Did the job live up to your expectations? If not, then why?

This question is super important, especially if you’re facing high new hire turnover (the number of employees who leave the company within their first year). It should give you interesting information about your recruitment process. 

If employees answer with a ‘no’, then where did things go wrong? In the job advert, which means right from the start? Or during the interview rounds where a manager painted a too rosy picture of reality?

Make sure to transfer the feedback you get to your recruitment team or whoever is in charge of your recruitment process so they can start improving things. 

9. Do you feel your job description changed since you were hired? If so, then how? 

To nip unrealistic expectations in the bud it’s good to ask leaving employees this question. If indeed their job description is different now then it should be updated asap to avoid disappointed new hires.

Changes can include, among other things, different skills, competencies, tasks and responsibilities.

10. What qualities should we absolutely look for in your replacement?

Again, the answer to this question can help you optimize your job advert and recruitment process. If the answer to question number 9 was ‘yes’ then it is likely you’ll have to change the candidate criteria you’re looking for.

On top of that, the leaving employee is a subject-matter expert when it comes to essential qualities for the job in its current state. 

11. What was the best part of your job?

Everybody is different and people will naturally like different aspects of their job. Over time, however, here too, you will see certain answers that keep popping up. You can use this info to emphasize the cool parts of the job.   

12. What was the worst part of your job?

Again, as you gather more data, you’ll be able to detect emerging trends. Not only does this help you to try and minimize the ‘bad parts’ of the job, it also helps you in painting a more truthful picture of what the job is like during the recruitment process. 

13. Did you get clear goals and objectives?

This question tells you something about the way people are managed. If the employee indeed received clear goals and objectives you can praise the manager and use him or her as an example of good leadership.  

If not, this needs to change, because having goals and objectives helps employees see that they play a role in achieving the organization’s mission.

14. Could we have done something to make you stay? If so, what?

While people can answer anything they want here, this question mainly concerns the actual job. Would the employee have stayed if certain parts of their job had been automated? Or were they looking for more variety in their tasks and responsibilities? 

If the data shows the latter is often the case, you may want to consider job enrichment or job enlargement for instance. 

Exit interview questions about the company culture

15. How would you describe the culture in the company?

How leaving employees answer this question will help you with your employer branding activities. Based on recurring themes, you can leverage the good that emerges out of the answers to better present your company to jobseekers. 

The not so good, on the other hand, needs to be addressed if it’s something that exiting employees keep mentioning.  

16. What are we not doing that we should be doing?

Here too, the answers can vary wildly. Recurring topics though will be very useful in making your company an even better place to work. Not only for your current employees but also for future hires. 

17. Did you feel valued and recognized in the company?

Everybody wants to see their efforts recognized. If your company is good at making people feel valued and give them the recognition they deserve, this will have a positive impact on people’s engagement and productivity.   

A lack of appreciation, on the other hand, can push people to move elsewhere. All the more reason to include this question in your list of exit interview questions. 

18. If we could improve in any way, how could we do it?

Here, people can pretty much say anything. From changing the company’s hierarchy to providing free snacks in the office and everything in-between. 

19. What’s not fun about working here?

No company or job has only good parts and that’s okay. If, however, the data shows that the majority of leavers feels that the company culture is toxic, you know you need to start digging and change things. 

Exit interview questions about the work environment

20. What do you like most about our office?

Exit interview questions about people’s physical work environment are, naturally, of a more practical nature. The good thing about this is that issues can be relatively easily solved. 

The answers you get to the ‘what do you like most about our office’ question you can use in your employer branding communication and recruitment process. 

21. What do you like least about our office?

If, for instance, it turns out that many leaving employees don’t like the fact that their manager doesn’t sit with them in an open space you should consider changing this.

Or perhaps people would rather not have a dedicated desk so that they’re able to meet other colleagues. This is also something you can address pretty easily. 

While these are often simple things, they can have a big impact on people’s day-to-day and hence their employee experience.  

22. What do you feel we should definitely change or add?

Of course, what’s possible and what not will depend on your budget. But it’s good to gather people’s feedback as office expectations evolve over time and employees today have different preferences than they had ten years ago. 

Besides, while your work environment won’t be the number one factor in a candidate’s decision to join your company, it can certainly be decisive.  

23. Were you satisfied with our flextime/work from home policy? If not, then what would you change?   

For many employees, especially during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, their work environment has been a combination of the office and their home. 

By the looks of it, working from home will increasingly become an integral part of people’s worklife. More and more employees and job seekers even expect to have the option to work from home. 

Ask leavers if they were happy with your current flextime/work from home policy and if the data shows there’s room for improvement, see what you can do. 

24. How did you come into the office and what was your commute like?

Even with the work from home option people will often still need to come into the office. Knowing how employees get in (public transportation, car, bicycle, etc.) and how long it takes them will help you make their lives easier in that regard. 

If, for example, you have many employees using the metro you can look into a cycle to work kind of scheme for those who prefer cycling over a packed train ride. 

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Exit interview questions about the technology

25. Did you feel you had enough tools & resources to do your job properly? If not, what was missing?

Whether or not people feel they’re fully equipped to do their job has a direct impact on their experience – and on how well they do their job. 

Therefore, the answers you get to this question are very helpful in optimizing the technology your employees use.  

26. When you first started working for us, how easy was it to navigate the various systems and applications? 

This question tells you something about the user experience people get. Often, the UX in the workplace is nothing compared to the UX people get in their personal lives. 

Especially when someone has just joined your company, the UX plays an important role in how freshly hired employees experience their first weeks. 

So, if you see certain issues constantly popping up, you should fix them right away.

27. How satisfied were you with the tools you used to communicate with your colleagues when working remotely? (video calls, chat systems, shared docs, etc.)

There is nothing more frustrating than being stoked for a video call with your colleagues only to then deal with technical issues for the first ten minutes. Especially since remote work is part of the ‘new normal’ the tools your employees have to stay in touch with each other (and with your customers) need to work smoothly.

28. What software/tool should we stop using right away?

We all have that one system or tool we’d rather not use at all (often admin related). If this is something employees only use once or twice a year then you might be able to say well, nobody is perfect. 

If, however, this is a system your people need to use on a (near) daily basis, this will for sure have a negative impact on their employee experience and you should seriously consider other options. 

29. Were you happy with the hardware provided by the company (laptop, phone, etc.)?

Some companies provide all new employees with a Macbook while others give their people a Dell device. Again, if employees have to use the hardware on a daily basis and they’re not happy with it, this won’t help your overall employee experience. 

If the data shows that people would like to be able to choose whether they want to work with an Apple or a Dell product (to stick with my example), then let them.

Pro tip: Remember that all feedback is welcome. So don’t forget to always ask people if there is anything else they’d like to share with you that you haven’t covered during the exit interview. 

Exit interview questions template (PDF)

We’ve gathered the exit interview questions from this article in a downloadable PDF. You can use it as a guideline or simply as inspiration for your own list of questions.

Beyond the exit interview

Gathering data from exit interview questions only serves a purpose if you are doing something with the insights you gain.

The patterns that will emerge from the data will tell you where improvements are needed: in your recruitment process or onboarding, your training and development program, or compensation and benefits policies for example. 

It’s important that this information gets shared with the right decision-makers in the organization. One way to do so is if HR leaders hold, for instance, quarterly update meetings with the organization’s executives during which they present exit interview data and trends. 

The idea is, of course, to then take actions that benefit the employees – and by extension the company. 

On a final note

Voila, there you have it, 29 exit interview questions to help you improve your employee experience. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive and you can mix and match the questions as you like. If you feel we missed one, feel free to share it with us in the comments below! 

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