Employee Exit Interviews: The Purpose, Best Practises, and Sample Questions

For the HR team of a company, scouting new talent will always be their focus. Attracting new candidates can be a challenge if you are a relatively new company.


At the same time, there will be employees leaving your company for a better offer or other reasons. As the employer, you must be able to take this opportunity and discover the reason why the employee is leaving. Even if the cause is not related to the workings of your company, the employee can give you a good insight into areas you can improve upon.

Exit interviews with the leaving employees can help you identify and understand the flaws in your organisation’s workings. Exit interviews need to be handled with care to make the most of them.


Purpose of Exit Interviews

An exit interview is a survey where the leaving employees can give feedback on your company and the issues and challenges they faced during their time of employment. Exit interviews can help you in many more ways.

  • An exit interview can help the employer and the employee part ways on a good note. Connections with former employees can go a long way only if you positively execute your offboarding and exit interview process.
  • An employee leaving work would be more open and honest than an employee who is still a part of the organisation. This candid feedback can be more beneficial for the growth of your organisation since it comes from someone who has been a part of your company for a long time.
  • Similar to how you would ask for feedback from the employee to improve your organisation, the employee might also want their performance review and areas for their growth. The interview should work both ways.
  • In addition to the employee’s duties and work environment, it is possible to get insights into the overall workings of your organisation. The employee is also an observer of your company.
  • Employees might have some concerns about their job and possible future conflicts. It is better to address every query the employees might have. It would help them with their prospects and their career growth.
  • Finding out why an employee is leaving your organisation can help you course-correct and ensure that such causes do not occur again.
  • The employee may not have found the right place to vent their feelings. The company could use the exit interview for that. It is better for the company if the employee speaks out in the offboarding process, rather than holding a grudge and expressing it in a public forum.


Best Practises for Exit Interviews

Schedule the Exit Interview

Usually, the employee exit interviews are scheduled during the last week of their employment. It is essential to make sure that the exit interview does not hinder the other offboarding processes of the employee.

Employees may like to spend their last day in the company by having final words with their peers and managers. So, it is better not to disturb the employee at such a time.

Schedule the exit interview by considering all these and checking with the employee before fixing the date and time. Be mindful of their time even if they are leaving your organisation.


Maintain Confidentiality

The exit interview is all about honesty and how well you can use the candid feedback from the employee to improve your company. In that respect, the employee might have a few reservations about talking about peers and managers.

It will not be a productive exit interview if employees are held back about sharing their experience. It is better to keep the feedback from the employee confidential.

Keeping the feedback confidential and keeping the employee’s identity anonymous will help them open up and talk about their experience with honesty.


Select the Right Interviewer

After assuring the employee about confidentiality, it is time to get to the point by choosing the interviewer. The employee might not feel comfortable speaking to the direct manager.

This is mainly because the direct manager is actively involved with most of the employee’s work. It would make the employee more reserved while sharing some details.

It is better to have someone from the organisation who is not the direct manager but would still make the employee comfortable enough to speak openly.


Prepare Questions for the Interview

Having a clear outline and questions before going into the interview can help you be mindful of the employee’s time. Getting into the discussion without planning, improvising as you go, may not yield the desired result.

It is okay to deviate a little based on the employee’s answers. It would help you gather more insight into the areas you find essential.

As a general rule, creating an outline and preparing the questions before the interview is the best practice.


Show Your Support

The employee might be leaving your organisation because of a better offer from a different organisation. It is essential to understand that employees are free to pursue any steps they want for career growth.

It is important to show your support for the employee’s decision. The employee might be a top performer but might still want to take on new challenges for career improvement. Show your support for them and express gratitude for their contribution to the company.


Have a Casual Tone

A casual tone would be better for an exit interview to ease employees and help them open up. Make the employee feel like you are having a chat instead of a formal interview that feels robotic.

This contributes to making the employee comfortable. Since this would be one of the last memories the employee will carry from the company, making it a positive one can be fruitful.

Rather than being in a one-sided conversation, the interaction should go two-ways. But make sure that you do not reveal too much and make the employee refrain from giving further comments.


Be Receptive to Their Feedback

Once the employee leaving opens up, they may talk about everything they found faulty with the company. You might find the need to defend the company. It is best not to be defensive while conducting the exit interview.

The employee may not open up if the interviewer protects their points.

On the other hand, you might find some of the points valid and relatable.

Do not overshare your thoughts about their feedback. Be receptive to their comments without involving yourself in them on a personal level.

Conduct the exit interview so that employees find it easy to share their thoughts and feel listened to without judgement.


Act on the Feedback

The organisation should use the collected data to implement changes. Consolidate the data and present them to the concerned members of your organisation.

Present the data during a regular meeting, keeping the details of the employee confidential. Some feedback might be precise and could have been a one-time error. But make sure that you find patterns with the comments of all the employees leaving your organisation. If there are many similar comments on a specific area, prioritise that and draw plans to rectify them.


Sample Exit Interview Questions and Their Reason

The employee interview questions should be focused so that the feedback offers employee retention and promotes your company’s employer brand. The questions should not be too specific and avoid yes or no questions as much as possible.


What made you leave the company?

This question will give you an idea of why the employee decided to leave your company. It is better to skip this question if you know the actual reason before starting the interview. If not, this is an excellent question to start the discussion.


Are there any external circumstances that made you accept the new offer?

Along with why they are leaving your company, it is also crucial to know what made them choose the new offer. Is it better pay? Easier commute? More responsibilities? Better work culture? Identifying this can help you find the areas you are lacking.


What are the things you wish had changed in the company?

Employees would mention the areas they feel could have been better. It is also better to get the reason for their answer. Check if it can be implemented and make the work-life of other employees better.


How did your peers and manager treat you during your employment?

This question may help employees open up about how their co-workers and manager made them feel and can give you an idea of employee interactions.


Would you ever consider returning to the company?

Such a question can help you identify potential boomerang employees, the employees who leave your company and return after some time. If an employee is ready to return, the company is a desirable place to work.



The exit interview is valuable to you for your company’s growth. Do not force the leaving employee to have an exit interview. Check with them and see if they are okay with the interview. If not, come up with an alternative, such as an anonymous questionnaire. It would promote confidentiality and the employee need not spend too much time on it. Cater to the employee’s needs and be flexible with the exit interviews.


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