30 Exit Interview Questions to Ask Employees (+ Free Template)

One of the best ways for leaders of organizations to learn how to retain employees is by conducting exit interviews with employees electing to leave. Discover the 30 best exit interview questions to use in your next meeting, plus a free exit interview meeting agenda template.

By
The Meetingnotes Team
|
9
mins
|
March 5, 2024
Management

When an employee gives their notice to leave your organization, there are steps that need to be taken through different departments. Their manager needs to start off-boarding, IT needs to ensure their equipment is received and taken care of, HR needs to handle any benefits or final payments that need to be made, but where does that leave you as a leader?

Understanding why an employee leaves your organization can offer a variety of insights into your company’s culture and processes. Sitting in on an exit interview with HR as a leader has numerous benefits which we’ll outline in this article. We’ll cover:

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The benefits of running an exit interview

With the busy schedules that leaders tend to have, it can be tempting to skip the exit interview process and let HR handle it. However, getting first-hand accounts from your employees has numerous benefits.

Improving future retention 

Unfortunately, it’s tough to understand why someone would want to leave your company without the employee actually leaving. The insights you gain from exit interview discussions can help you understand why the employee is leaving, and then take those learnings and apply them to your retention strategy going forward. 

Enhancing the culture of your company 

When it comes to company culture, there’s always a certain level of discrepancy between what the company culture is like on paper, and what it’s like in practice. A leaving employee can give honest feedback about this, and maybe even some suggested improvements, to help you enhance the culture of your company in the future.

Spotting gaps in training practices

While losing an employee can be disappointing, there can be opportunities to spot gaps in current processes. A potential reason for leaving could be a lack of training opportunities, for example, and getting a first hand account of these areas for improvement can benefit the rest of your current team.

Creating a culture of continuous improvement

Forming a habit of hosting exit interviews with employees shows your existing team that you care about employee insights and opinions when it comes to how your organization is run. Being receptive to feedback helps create a culture of continuous improvement in your company. 

Sharing gained insights about your organization 

Getting an honest, unbiased account of what’s going on in the different departments in your organization is an invaluable asset. When an employee is leaving, they are more likely to be honest and open about their work experiences because they don’t have to worry about repercussions. 

Sharing the insights you get from an exit interview can help improve your company as a whole, and the best software to help you synthesize and share that valuable information is Fellow

Fellow is the all in one AI meeting management solution that records, transcribes, summarizes, and shares your meetings. When you use Fellow for your exit interviews, you can stay present in the call while Fellow’s AI Meeting Copilot takes care of gathering the most important decisions, discussion points, action items, and takeaways. Because it connects to your calendar, you can easily go back and rewatch your meeting recordings by simply clicking on the calendar event.

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30 best exit interview questions sorted by category 

Choosing the right questions for your employee's exit interview is essential if you want to get a good variety of responses. Picking questions from different pools of questions based on category will ensure all your bases are covered.

Reasons for leaving

Understanding why your employee wants to leave will tell you a lot about their motivation and how it relates to your organization. Here are some questions for this category:

What made you decide to leave the company?

This is a great question to open up the exit interview. The goal is to understand the motivation behind your employee’s departure, and this question can be built off of depending on their answers.

What do you think could be improved upon at our organization?

Even though your employee is leaving, chances are good that they’ll have a few recommendations on how to leave your company better than they found it. Asking this opens the door for positive conversation. 

How do you feel about the company culture?

Most organizations will outline their culture and values in their company handbook, but asking employees directly what they think about said culture will help you understand how effectively it’s being implemented, and where it can be improved upon.

Was there anything negative about the organization that came to light during your time here?

Rumor mills and office politics are best avoided for leaders, but sometimes they can merit addressing depending on the severity of what’s being circulated. Because your leaving employee doesn’t stand to face repercussions about being honest, they’re more likely to be open with you and share anything that might need addressing. 

Did you feel supported enough to share your concerns with someone in the company?

Creating a culture of emotional safety when it comes to sharing concerns can only benefit your organization in the long run. If your employees don’t feel comfortable sharing their concerns with management, issues and resentment can fester and boil over. Gaining understanding into how your employee feels will help you foster a better culture moving forward.

Work experience and environment

In contrast to reasons for leaving, questions about work experience and environment can evoke more objective responses with tangible results attached to them. Here are some examples:

During your time here, did your objectives and goals align with each other?

One reason for an employee’s departure could be a lack of direction. If an employee’s goals and objectives didn’t align, that can tell you a lot about current processes and merits further exploration.

Do you feel you were given the appropriate tools and resources in order to succeed in your role?

Voicing a lack of resources or tools when on a team can be challenging, but made easier once an employee is leaving the company. Asking for feedback in this area will help you build out your tech stack for your team in the future.

What did you enjoy most about working here?

Understanding what your employees enjoy most about working for your organization is invaluable, and this is especially true when coming from an employee that is leaving. Insights from this conversation can be used as recruiting benefits in the future. 

Did you feel valued during your time here?

A big reason for employees to stay at their organizations is feeling valued in their team. Asking this question can help you get to the root of the reason for their departure, and come up with ways to make your employees feel more valued depending on their response. 

Can you describe the best day at your job?

With all the responsibilities of a leader at an organization, it can be easy to lose sight of what a positive work day would look like for your employees. Getting this insight from a leaving employee can help you better structure the days of future employees.

What did you find the most challenging about your role?

Challenges are to be expected in any role. However, gaining a better understanding of challenges, especially recurring ones, can help you address these issues going forward and improve workflows for your team. 

Did your manager regularly offer you feedback?

Feedback is one of the most effective ways for team members to grow and improve in their role. Ensuring that your managers are offering feedback to their direct reports on a regular basis can help with retention in the future.

How would you describe your understanding of the tasks you were given in your role?

In order for an employee to succeed in their role, they need to have a firm grasp of the tasks expected of them. A potential point of frustration that can lead to an employee’s departure can come from misunderstandings and miscommunications. Promoting clarity moving forward will ensure your remaining employees can do their best work. 

Did you have any trouble understanding any of the organization’s policies?

Another area where problems can arise is if company policies are not being clearly communicated. Prompting a leaving employee to share whether they had trouble understanding the policies of your organization may shed some light on why they are leaving. 

How would you describe any collaborative teamwork you experienced with your peers?

Collaboration is the foundation for success in organizations, when it’s done well. Gaining insights into how your employee worked with others can help you understand team dynamics and how to improve them in the future. 

Personal well being

Taking an interest in the personal well being of your employees says a lot about you as a leader. Understanding and gaining insights from questions that pertain to this can help you make any necessary adjustments in the future.

Was the remote or hybrid setup to your satisfaction? 

Remote work can be a big factor when it comes to employees choosing an organization to work at. Understanding whether your company could benefit from a more flexible remote work policy can help you improve the experience for both your remaining and future employees.

Would you say your mental health was affected by your role or the company? Can you describe how?

Ensuring your organization is fostering a work environment that creates a positive impact on your employees’ mental health is essential. However, not everyone may feel comfortable discussing these matters in the workplace, so getting the honest opinion of a soon-to-be ex employee can help ensure a candid and honest response.

Were you happy or unhappy with your compensation package?

When it comes to compensation packages, it’s best to be open and honest about expectations and how your employee felt about theirs. Their insights can help shape how you organize your compensation packages in the future.  

Could you describe the qualities of the perfect candidate to replace you?

An employee that’s getting ready to leave will have valuable insights into the qualities that their replacement should possess. Their response to this question will tell you what to look out for when recruiting to fill the role. 

Would you consider working for our company again in the future?

The answer to this question will give you an idea of how the leaving employee feels about the company as a whole. If they say no to this question, it may merit further discussion about why they wouldn’t want to return for another opportunity in the future. 

What are some things that your manager could have done better?

The relationship between an employee and their manager can define their success in their role. If you’re not regularly conducting 360 feedback about your managers, this question will give you some insights into areas of improvement for the future. 

What are some examples of ways we could improve morale in the organization?

Good morale in an organization is a tough thing to gain and maintain. The best people to ask about how to improve it are those who are experiencing it every day, and a soon-to-be ex employee is a great example of that. Their insights can help shape your company culture and workflow in the future. 

Have you ever experienced discrimination or harassment during your time here?

Employees experiencing unaddressed discrimination or harassment in the workplace is an unfortunate reality in many workplaces today.  Addressing issues of discrimination or harassment before your employee leaves can help prevent future issues and repercussions down the line. 

Recommendations and advice

Being open to recommendations and advice is a great way to show you care about the culture and success of your organization moving forward. Below are some example ways to prompt advice from a departing employee.

What processes could be improved before your replacement starts working here?

As the person most recently occupying the role, your departing employee will have the best insights on what could be improved before their replacement starts. Improving processes for your employee’s replacement can help ensure better retention in the long run. 

Would you recommend someone to work at our organization?

This is an open ended question that can tell you a lot about the current state of your organization. If your departing employee wouldn’t recommend working at your organization to others, there’s likely an underlying problem that shouldn’t be ignored. 

Can you tell us some of the positive aspects of your new position that you’re looking forward to?

When an employee is leaving an organization, chances are good that they have a better opportunity lined up for them to transition to. While they don’t have to share the specifics of their new job, it can be beneficial to ask about what’s drawing them to this new position, and reflect on how you can replicate that in your own organization. 

Are there any training gaps you noticed while working in your role?

Nobody understands training gaps and barriers when it comes to your onboarding process than the employees that had to experience them. Asking for feedback in this area can help shape the way you train newcomers in the future, and have a positive impact on retention in the long run. 

Are there any outstanding issues you’d like to address?

Of course, providing closure for both you and your leaving employee is ideal so that you part ways amicably. Ensuring that nobody has any outstanding issues that should be discussed or addressed will ensure that each party goes on their merry way, and can foster a positive professional relationship. 

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Using an agenda template for your exit interview 

Now that you’re armed with the best questions to ask in your exit interview with your employee, it may be useful to consider the best way to structure your exit interview. The best and easiest way to do this is by leveraging an exit interview agenda template for your meeting.

Exit interview agenda template benefits 

Below are some of the benefits of using an exit interview meeting agenda template:

Structure 

Templates provide a structure to your exit interview meetings, so the conversation can follow a natural flow and be respectful of everyone’s time. 

Consistency 

Using the same template every time an employee leaves the company makes it easier to analyze responses and comments to the same questions and sections. 

Fostering reflection 

Sharing a structured template with your leaving employee in advance will help ensure they have time to reflect on the questions and give you the most professional and honest responses. 

Side by side in your exit interview meeting call 

Using a template with a meeting productivity software like Fellow, means you can keep your meeting notes and agenda side by side in your video calls, so you can focus on the conversation.

What’s more, Fellow’s AI Meeting Copilot allows you to seamlessly record, transcribe, summarize, and share your meetings with relevant stakeholders, meaning you can get the most accurate record of your employee’s responses and easily gather insights afterward. 

Exit interview agenda template

Below is an example HR exit interview agenda template. It’s broken down into 6 sections to make the flow of questions manageable for both the interviewer and interviewee. 

This template comes pre-populated with questions, and each section can be added to according to the needs of your organization. 

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Final Word on Exit Interview Questions

Running exit interviews at your company might not feel like an obvious source of insights and information at first glance, but running them consistently, efficiently, and effectively can help your organization in more ways than one. They can help with improving future retention, creating a better company culture, spotting gaps in training practices, and gaining valuable insights into how your organization is actually run. 

Consistency and communication are your best friends when it comes to running a successful exit interview, and the best way to foster these qualities is by using an exit interview agenda template with a meeting productivity software like Fellow. Fellow is designed to help your organization have fewer, shorter, more effective meetings with AI, behavior driving features, and seamless integrations. 

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