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10 Exit Interview Questions That Aren’t a Waste of Time

Posted: 06/30/2021 | Author: Jim Lochner for Creatives On Call | Tags: Thought Leadership

10 Exit Interview Questions That Aren’t a Waste of Time

Nearly 4 million people quit their job in April. 1 in 4 workers is considering leaving, and the US is on the cusp of “The Great Resignation.” Know what that means? A whole lotta exit interviews. 

Though exit interviews can be awkward, uncomfortable, and feel like a waste of time, they don’t have to be. The exit interview is one of the last opportunities for an employee to have a deep conversational interaction with your company. It’s their chance to review their experience and affirm the contributions they’ve made to your organization. Most of all, it’s a unique opportunity to get honest and open feedback that can help you improve the experience for current and future employees. Knowing why an employee leaves can also help reduce turnover, saving money on recruitment processes, training, and onboarding. But a fourth of companies don’t bother doing exit interviews at all. Others collect the data from the interviews but don’t analyze it. Some analyze it but don’t share it with the senior leaders who can act on it. Only a few collect, analyze, share the data, and follow up with action. 

We’ve pulled together 10 exit interview questions that aren’t a waste of time. The questions allow the employee to respond with answers that will hopefully provide you with actionable steps to take moving forward. And don’t be afraid to use phrases like “Can you give me an example?” and “Tell me more about that” to prompt for more specific information. Use the interview as a basis for learning and knowledge-sharing so you can end your working relationship on a good note and receive valuable, actionable feedback.

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1. What prompted your decision to leave your position?

There’s always a reason employees leave—people don’t just quit without one. This question will help you get to the root of the reason behind their leaving. This question can also help you determine which opportunities, benefits, or perks your company could be offering to attract and retain top talent. 

2. What could we have done to keep you with us?

You’re not trying to get the employee to stay. (That moment should happen when they turn in their resignation or shortly after that.) But if many interviews have the same root answer (for example, higher salary, better benefits, more growth opportunities, etc.), you know what needs fixing to retain your talent.

3. What would have made you feel engaged?

64% of employees quit due to feeling disengaged. Since engagement is critical to achieving successful job performance and fostering a healthy workplace environment, asking this question will provide engagement strategy insights to reduce future turnover. 

4. How was your relationship with your manager?

We’ve all heard the adage, “People don’t quit their job; they quit their boss.” But 52% of employees that quit do so because of the lack of development opportunities, not their boss. Still, it’s crucial to find out if there was any friction in the relationship to head off any managerial problems in the future. 

5. Did you have all the tools you needed to succeed at your job?

Any position will have a learning curve, but you want to ensure you’re giving your employees the tools (for example, training, technology, resources, work conditions, etc.) they need for success. If you find employees consistently answering this one negatively, it’s time to reevaluate and fix it.

6. Did you feel your achievements were recognized?

Recognition is crucial to the employee experience. When the company notices and values the contributions of its employees, it improves motivation, fuels productivity, and can decrease turnover. No company wants an employee to think their talent and skill set was wasted. 

7. How can we make your position better for your replacement?

By positioning this question in the context of the employee being a “mentor” for the next hire, you’re asking what you could have done to make their position better for themselves. Depending on the circumstances behind their leaving, you may get some great ideas to help the incoming candidate.

8. What suggestions do you have to make this a better place to work?

This question gives the employee an open opportunity to comment on the company culture, leadership, benefits, and anything else outside of the scope of their specific roles. Then, as you keep track of the data, watch for trends to help you identify real concerns.

9. Would you recommend our company to a friend?

Even though they’ve decided to leave, former employees can be excellent referral sources. If they’re willing to champion your company to their professional network, you’re parting on good terms, and they can be a great source of recruitment. On the other hand, if they’re not comfortable referring a friend, identify the issues and make corrections as quickly as possible.  

10. Are there any other issues you’d like to discuss?

This is the employee’s last chance to air any other grievances. Once they know the interview is ending, they might get more candid. This question can ensure they didn’t leave anything unsaid they wanted to mention.

* * *

Exit interviews should help you identify opportunities to improve within your company. Use them to get a candid look at your operations and a data set to build lasting, meaningful improvements. That’s why analyzing the data is so important. Look for patterns in the feedback to identify possible organizational issues, then take action. With many companies struggling to fill positions, exit interviews are more indispensable than ever to retain and attract top talent.

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