Exit interviews are formal meetings with employees exiting the business to gain feedback on their reasons for resigning and also solicit suggestions on organisational improvement.

Why Exit Interviews Are Vital

Whilst the temptation is to 'simply move on' from an employee who leaves the business, most HR experts agree that making a policy of conducting exit interviews is an invaluable investment for business owners and managers.

If done well, exit interviews can provide tremendous insights into how well the organisation is performing and identify issues in the business early before they cause too much damage.

Whilst, the majority of the time, you may get similar reasons for leaving which are not possible to change (e.g. seeking higher pay or hours of different rostered hours etc.), you will also find that some feedback gems will appear in the mix. These provide real value.

How to Perform Exit Interviews

1. Pre-book a Meeting.

Once you get a notice from an employee that they are resigning, acknowledge the resignation in writing and explain that you would like to book an exit interview. It's always a good idea to book the exit interview as close to possible as their last day of work (considering any notice period).

The email could go like this:

Hi Steve,

Thanks for taking the time to confirm your decision to resign effective from DATE.

As per your contract and notice period, I can confirm your last day of employment will be DATE.

As per our company procedures, and to help me understand the reasons behind your decision and improve the business in the future, I would like to book a 15-minute Exit Interview where I can ask questions and get some feedback from you.

Can you confirm you are available between TIME and TIME on DATE?

Thanks for your contribution, and I look forward to catching up.

Best wishes for the future.


2. Interviewer Must Be Senior.

If your business is of the size where employees don't always report to you directly, I recommend NOT delegating the interview to a line manager but rather doing it yourself.

Why? Because otherwise, if feedback is given by an exiting employee that relates to a line manager, they may not tell you. Exit interviews are an excellent way for senior management or business owners to look under the rug and find first-hand issues that need addressing.

3. Keep It, Civil.

Sometimes as owners, we are understandably not happy when an employee resigns. We may feel that loyalty hasn't been reciprocated and that the departing employee will leave the business with unfair stresses.

Regardless, it is vital as the interviewer that you remove all these thoughts from your mind and walk into the session with a calm demeanour. If the departing employee feels animosity, this will sabotage the session and result in little value being extracted for the business.

Great Exit Interview Questions. 

If you're struggling to determine what questions to ask in an exit interview, here are some great thought starters.

Q - What caused you to start looking for a new job in the first place?

Q - Why have you decided to leave the company?

Q - Have you shared your concerns with anyone in the company before deciding to leave? How did they respond?

Q - Was a single event responsible for your decision to leave?

Q - What does the new company offer that encouraged you to accept their offer and leave this company?

Q - What do you value about the company?

Q - What did you dislike about the company?

Q - The quality of supervision is essential to most people at work. How was your relationship with your manager?

Q - What could your supervisor do to improve their management style and skill?

Q - What are your views about management and leadership, in general, in the company?

Q - What did you like most about your job?

Q - What did you dislike about your job? What would you change about your job?

Q - Do you feel you had the resources and support necessary to accomplish your job? If not, what was missing?

Q - We try to be an employee-oriented company where employees experience positive morale and motivation. What is your experience of employee morale and motivation in the company?

Q - Were your job responsibilities correctly characterised during the interview and orientation?

Q - Did you have clear goals and know what was expected of you in your job?

Q - Did you receive adequate feedback about your performance day-to-day and in the performance development planning process?

Q - Did you clearly understand and feel a part of the accomplishment of the company mission and goals?

Q - Describe your experience of the company's commitment to quality and customer service.

Q - Did the company management care about you and help you accomplish your personal and professional development and career goals?

Q - What would you recommend to help us create a better workplace?

Q - Do the policies and procedures of the company help create a well-managed, consistent, and fair workplace in which expectations are clearly defined?

Q - Describe the qualities and characteristics of the person most likely to succeed in this company.

Q - What are the essential qualities and skills we should seek in your replacement?

Q - Do you have any recommendations regarding our compensation, benefits and other reward and recognition efforts?

Q - What would make you consider working for this company again in the future?

Q - Would you recommend the company as an excellent workplace for your friends and family?

Q - Can you offer any other comments that will enable us to understand why you are leaving, how we can improve, and what we can do to become a better company?

The exit interview with an exiting employee is a fantastic opportunity to get an unbiased perceptive on what is going well and what needs to be improved in the business.

Sure, you will need to filter fact from fiction with what you're told by exiting employees. Still, exit interviews provide a rich source of information for your organisational improvement.


Simon Ingleson

CEO/Founder @ RosterElf

Magically Simple Staff Rostering

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