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12 Questions You Should Ask Employees During Exit Interviews

Jun 20 , 2022

Exit sign.

Employers often overlook exit interviews even though they can be valuable tools to boost engagement and employee retention rates. It is important to get as much information as you can about what caused employees to leave your company to consider making changes that will increase employee retention.

In addition, exiting employees will be more honest about your workplace than existing employees, who understandably don't want their honesty to affect their jobs. Here are some questions your business should ask during exit interviews.

1. What made you look for another job?

You will get many different answers to these questions, but you want to look for trends and common patterns. When you see a number of people saying the same thing, it's an area you want to look at improving to have better retention. 

2. Why are you leaving?

This answer could be very different from the answer to the previous question. Having answers to both will give you a good picture of all the reasons people leave your company, from the initial problem to the straw that broke the camel's back.  

3. Where is your new position and what advantages does it have?

Knowing what a person's new job has over the previous one will help you know what areas to address in the company and what aspects could be improved, including different hours or work-from-home options, training, performance incentives, or other things that impact jobs at your company. 

4. What could we have done better?

This is another way to get at the question of what needs improvement in your hiring and operations and may reveal more insights or finer points. This can also show that just because you are doing something doesn't mean you're doing it well. 

5. What tools or support would have helped you do your job better?

This question is more specific and should elicit specific responses that can show weaknesses in your training, supervision, or other systems.  Many employers do not offer enough training, feedback, or one-on-one support for ideal job performance because all these things are time-consuming and thus, expensive to do on an ongoing basis. However, they can impact employee satisfaction and performance. 

6. What would have made you stay in your current job?

It might be surprising to learn what would have kept employees with your company rather than going elsewhere. Again, there may be several answers, but a direct question like this may get a direct answer, which can be most helpful in weeding out retention problems. 

Having a discussion.

7. Would you consider returning to this company?

There is a recent trend of employees returning to previous companies in higher numbers. If employees are leaving on fairly good terms, they may keep their options open to return someday. For those who answer this question in the affirmative, you can follow up by asking what would influence a decision to return.

8. How would you describe the company culture?

The extent to which this answer aligns with your vision for the company culture will show whether the culture is conforming to expectations and goals. Don't be surprised if answers vary and don't align well with the vision. This is like holding up a mirror to the culture. You never know what you're going to see.

9. Did you feel like a valuable part of the company?

If you get a lot of "no" answers to this question, it is worth exploring what you can do to make employees feel more valued. Many companies have official recognition programs and ways of showing appreciation, but what happens when the employee is struggling or needs extra time off to attend to a family situation? Appreciation programs are one thing, but it's in the everyday treatment of employees where value is often recognized. 

10. What qualities are important to look for in your replacement?

You don't expect the exiting employee to be directly involved in choosing or interviewing a replacement, but it can be helpful to know what qualities they think are important for the job they're leaving. Employees have insights that are different from those of management or ownership and taking their advice can be helpful. 

11. How would you improve employee morale?

This answer can give insight into the employee perspective concerning morale and what employees need to have a better attitude toward their work. Be sure to ask for realistic suggestions rather than pie-in-the-sky ones that are not grounded in reality. 

12. Would you recommend this company to a job-seeking friend?

This will tell you exactly how sour the exiting employee is on your company and how negative their experience was. It could also be that the fit just wasn't right between the employee and your company, but they still think it could be a good fit for someone else. 

Answers to exit interview questions can help you determine the common reasons for turnover and the lack of retention, as well as expose potential problems in your operations that could be frustrating or irritating to employees (or be real dealbreakers in some cases).

GDH offers recruiting services including RPO to meet your varied recruiting needs. Contact us to see how we can help your company find necessary talent.