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If you thought putting in your two-week notice was difficult, you may be surprised to learn that you may be asked to conduct an exit interview.  Exit interviews are typically held by your human resources department.  They are a way for the human resources department to assess what is, and what isn’t, working well and what changes need to be made.

An exit interview, however, is nothing to be too worried about.  While it may sound intimidating, it is simply a means for the company to gauge employee satisfaction in an honest, non-threatening setting.  Exit interviews are meant to work well as the departing employee typically believes that no disciplinary actions can be enacted against them, allowing them to speak more freely.

We are going to discuss the 30 exit interview questions you’ll probably be asked and how best to answer them.  While you will want to give honest feedback and answers, you don’t want to completely tarnish any relationships you may have built during your time with the company.

What is the Purpose of an Exit Interview?

Companies and employers are always trying to refine their processes and their tactics.  This can be done to run the business more efficiently, to increase employee retention, or to identify weak points in their staff that may need additional training.  However, it is often difficult to get employees to discuss these issues.  That is because the employees may fear retribution or backlash from the company or their superiors.

As a way to circumvent these fears, the exit interview was adopted.  The exit interview is a way for employers to assess the level of satisfaction of their departing employees.  But it is also a way for the employer to get additional insight and understanding into the specific departments.  This insight is invaluable as it allows the employer to adjust any processes which may not be working as expected.

However, the exit interview does risk being tainted by disgruntled employees.  After all, the majority of employees who are leaving on their own volition are probably the ones who didn’t really enjoy being there.  These employees may provide information that is speculative and riddled with personal feelings.

If you are asked to conduct an exit interview, you should do so honestly and with the best of intentions.  While you don’t want to disparage any previous managers or colleagues, you can provide feedback on what you believed did and did not work.  You should also look to praise any individuals or processes which you believe had a positive effect on the company, this will help the employer to learn from those processes and continue to roll them out.

How do Exit Interviews Work?

Exit interviews are typically less intense than their name may suggest.  They are usually conducted on an employee’s last day with the company or within 48-hours of their last day.  A member from the human resources department will set some time aside to meet with the employee.  The exit interview will be conducted in a private setting.  It will be a one-on-one conversation and the interviewer will be taking a copious amount of notes throughout.

The exit interview will typically begin with a round of congratulations and personal questions.  This will be a way to break the ice and begin the interview.  As the interview begins, the interviewer will look to ask a number of questions to get a better sense of why you are looking to leave, what did and did you not enjoy about the company, and what could the company have done better.

Within the exit interview process, most employers will have a set number of questions to ask.  These questions will be asked at every exit interview and will be the basis and determination for making any changes or adjustments to how the company is run and how decisions are enacted.

Exit Interview Questions to Expect

While there is no set list of interview questions that are guaranteed to be asked, there are generally some questions which you can be asked.  Overall, the exit interview questions will be broken out into a few differing categories.  These categories will each come with their own list of questions.

  • Reasons for leaving the company
  • Job satisfaction
  • Corporate culture
  • Work relationships
  • Corporate transparency
  • Company reputation and referrals

30 Exit Interview Questions

Reasons for Leaving the Company

Perhaps above all else, employers are inherently curious as to why employees leave.  This makes sense as most employers try to increase employee retention.  By asking questions regarding an employee’s departure, they are better able to assess factors they control and make attempts to improve on them.

  • Why did you start looking for a new job?
  • What main factors led you to accepting this new role?
  • What could have been done, if anything, to convince you to remain at this company?
  • Did you feel comfortable bringing up any concerns you may have had?
  • Do you feel that the company was lacking in any areas, expertise, or tools that pushed you to consider a role outside of the company?

Job Satisfaction

While job satisfaction and reasons for leaving the company are closely tied together, they are typically asked in separate instances.  Employers want to see how happy and satisfied their employees are and see what can be done to increase their overall satisfaction.

  • Were you happy in your role?
  • What did or did you not enjoy about working here?
  • Did you job description change since you began working here?
  • What, would you say, was the best part about working here?
  • What, would you say, was the worst part about working here?

Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is an important aspect of any company.  It can help with retention and attracting of new employees.  It can also help employers better manage their workforce and create an environment that is inclusive and rewarding to all.  As-such, employers are keen on ensuring their corporate culture is well defined and well set.

  • How do you view the corporate culture at the company?
  • Do you believe there is anything the company can do to increase the corporate culture?
  • What initiatives can be undertaken to make this company a better place to work?
  • Do you believe the company offered enough opportunities to increase your own skills?
  • How would you describe the company’s corporate culture?

Work Relationships

Interpersonal and professional relationships are an important aspect in increasing employee retention.  Employees are more likely to remain with a company where they feel valued, trusted, and where they have a system of support from their colleagues.  As-such, employers should take every possible step to ensure that employees have an adequate support system and relationships between employees.

  • How was your relationship with your manager?
  • How was your relationship with your colleagues?
  • Do you feel that your manager and this company supported you?
  • Do you feel that you were given adequate training when first hired and provided a mentor to assist you?
  • Do you feel that the company provided adequate circumstances to further develop professional relationships?

Corporate Transparency

Employees are generally happier and more satisfied with employers who are honest, forthcoming, and transparent.  This includes holding regular townhall meetings and allowing employees to meet with, and ask questions, to the CEO.  As-such, it is good to get an understanding from the departing employee on how transparent they felt the company was and how forthcoming they presented themselves.

  • Did you enjoy the corporate town-halls that the company held?
  • Do you feel the company was transparent with its employees?
  • Do you feel like you could have spoken with company executives regarding any issues or suggestions?
  • Do you feel like you understood why the company made certain decisions?
  • How would you like the company to be more transparent?

Company Reputation and Referrals

In the age of the internet, companies live and die by their online reputations and employee word-of-mouth.  Therefore, it’s good to get an idea of whether or not a former employee would recommend the company to family and friends, and if not, then why?

  • Would you recommend this company to family or friends? Why or why not?
  • If you were to write a Glassdoor review of the company, what rating would you give?
  • How do you feel non-employees view the company?
  • Were you proud to work here?
  • Would you come back to work here if given the opportunity in the future?

Conclusion

Exit interviews are an employer’s best time to get honest, direct feedback from their employees.  It is an opportunity to discuss what is and what isn’t working and attempt to make the changes needed to continue to evolve.  Not conducting an exit interview is missing out on a valuable opportunity and one that may not happen often.

However, be careful to not take all feedback as fact.  Some employees may feel disgruntled or resentful and may look to provide opinions.  Do your best in asking the right questions and making the employee feel at ease and you will be able to get the answers you need.

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