How to conduct an exit interview: Template and examples

Gambar kontributor Tim AsanaTeam Asana
28 Februari 2024
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Summary

An exit interview is a conversation between a company and an employee who chooses to leave the company. When you create a safe environment for team members to give honest feedback, you’ll gain insight into how your company can improve. Learn how to perform an exit interview effectively so you can make the most of the experience.

When a team member leaves your company for a new role, there’s an opportunity to learn why. An exit interview can give departing employees time to briefly explain their resignation. When you create a safe space for them to speak candidly, you’ll find the root cause of their departure and assess whether the company contributed to it.

To gain valuable insight from exit interviews, ask thoughtful, open-ended questions. Your goal should be to make the interviewee comfortable so they’re more inclined to be honest with you. The best exit interviews help you understand where you went wrong, so you can strengthen your work environment and improve employee morale.

What is an exit interview?

An exit interview is a one-on-one conversation between an HR professional and an employee choosing to leave the company. It’s an opportunity to understand why your team member is leaving and if the company can improve. When you understand the cause of a voluntary resignation, you can develop an action plan to do better for future employees.

Aside from looking for the cause of resignation, exit interviews tell you how the departing team member feels about your organization. Team members who are leaving may feel that it’s easier to be honest with praise and criticism regarding company processes, their manager, or their team role

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Who should conduct an exit interview?

Typically, a member of the human resources team will conduct the exit interview. This gives the interviewee a chance to speak with someone outside of their immediate team. Because the human resources department isn’t involved in everyday job roles, a member of HR can serve as a trusted confidant.

Why are exit interviews important?

Exit interviews are valuable for companies seeking continuous improvement. Departing team members have first-hand experience with how the company functions and what they think could be better. This interview is an opportunity for team members to speak candidly.

Benefits of conducting exit interviews:

  • Receive honest employee feedback

  • Find the root cause of a team member’s departure

  • Gain insight into where the company can improve

  • Identify ways to improve employee retention rates

Ask questions about the team member’s experience with onboarding, development, and team management. By outlining the right questions in advance, you’ll get a clear picture of how the team member feels.

7 common exit interview questions

The exit interview questions you choose will likely depend on the team member’s role. If the resigning person is in leadership, you may have different questions than if they were an associate. 

However, there are some common exit interview questions you can ask to gain well-rounded insight into why the team member is leaving for a new role and how they feel.

[inline illustration] Questions to ask in an exit interview (infographic)

1. What led you to your decision to leave?

Your first question can be straightforward. Ask why the team member resigned and see what they say. If you want the team member to elaborate on their reason, ask follow-up questions based on their answer. 

The individual’s reason for leaving may have nothing to do with the company at all. Continue the interview by asking questions about their experience.

Possible follow-up questions:

  • What prompted you to start looking for your next opportunity? 

  • Is there a scenario that would’ve changed your mind?

2. What do we do well as a company?

When you begin the interview with straightforward questions, the departing team member has time to get comfortable. It’s often easier for a team member to express what they like about the company and their job role before moving into criticism. 

Once the team member gives you a general answer for what the company did well, ask them to explain.

Possible follow-up questions:

  • Can you elaborate on your response?

  • Do you have any examples you’d like to share?

3. What can the company improve on?

Ask the individual about general company improvements they think you can implement. This question goes hand in hand with their response to what the company does well. 

Use their responses to move naturally into things they may not be as fond of. For example, you might say, “So, you said you enjoyed your manager’s leadership style, but was there anything about the team dynamic you would recommend improving?”

Possible follow-up questions:

  • You said you enjoyed [employee response]. Was there anything about the [company characteristic] you would recommend improving?

4. Did you feel supported by your manager?

Depending on the departing team member’s job role, they may not have a unique perspective about the organizational culture at a larger level. One area you know the team member has direct experience with is their manager. 

Once you have ascertained whether or not they felt their manager was supportive of them, inquire as to what their manager did or did not do well.

Possible follow-up questions:

  • What helped you do your job well, and what hindered it?

  • Do you feel that leadership has recognized your contributions? If not, how do you think it can be improved?

  • Can you provide examples to elaborate on your answer?

5. Did you feel you received training and development opportunities?

It’s essential to learn whether your company trained team members properly for their positions. Professional development opportunities within the company are also important for retaining a team.

Many individuals move from one company to the next because they want to grow their careers. Use the answers from exit interviews to improve your training plan and development programs. These improvements can reduce turnover and help increase employee retention rates. 

Possible follow-up questions:

  • What would’ve made your training experience better?

  • What would’ve strengthened our growth and development opportunities?

6. What are you looking for in your next job opportunity?

Departing team members may stick to positive feedback on their experience. To learn from their departure, ask questions in different ways. Ask what they’re looking for in their new position and use their answer to compare what your company offers. 

For example, a team member may say their experience at the company was positive. But when you ask about their future expectations, they say they’re looking for a stronger benefits package, more work-life balance, or a new opportunity that better aligns with their career path. That’s a signal that you might want to reevaluate your company culture and team workloads.

Possible follow-up questions:

  • What about this role didn’t align with your career path?

7. Would [reason] make you reconsider your decision to leave?

Team members sometimes leave because of a company’s specific shortcomings. The team member may be seeking a higher salary or to join a different department. Consider whether you are able to meet these requirements. 

If you can’t meet their requirements, determine whether their requirements are reasonable and if these are things you should improve for others. If they say nothing will prevent them from leaving, be understanding and accept their response.

Possible follow-up questions:

  • In what scenario, if any, would you consider returning?

Exit interview template and example

Here’s an exit interview form example and questionnaire to ask departing employees. Included are potential answers you may receive and ways to follow up on those answers.

[inline illustration] Exit interview template (example)

Use the exit interview template below to take notes and create an improvement plan

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How to conduct an effective exit interview

Effective exit interviews are a cornerstone of continuous improvement in employee engagement and retention strategies. Here's how HR professionals and managers can efficiently gather valuable insights while maintaining a positive relationship with departing employees.

Step 1: Prepare and schedule the interview

Begin by reviewing the employee's job description, performance records, any feedback they've previously provided, and their resignation letter, if they've submitted one. Develop a structured questionnaire based on common exit interview questions to guide the conversation.

Timing is crucial for an effective exit interview. Schedule the meeting close to the employee's last day, but not on the very last day, to give them time to reflect on their experience without the pressure of imminent departure. This timing also allows for a more candid and thoughtful discussion.

Step 2: Clearly communicate the purpose

At the beginning of the interview, clearly communicate its purpose: to gain honest feedback for organizational improvement. Emphasize that the information shared will be treated with confidentiality and respect. Outline the structure of the interview so the employee knows what to expect.

Conduct the exit interview in a private, comfortable setting to facilitate an open and honest discussion. Whether face-to-face or via a video call, the environment should encourage candid feedback.

Step 3: Engage in an open dialogue

Use the prepared questionnaire as a guide, but allow the conversation to flow naturally. Focus on open-ended questions to elicit detailed insights into the employee's job satisfaction, reasons for leaving, and suggestions for the company.

Active listening is key. Encourage the employee to be honest and open, assuring them that their feedback is valuable and will be used constructively. Acknowledge their feelings and experiences without judgment or defensiveness.

Step 4: Discuss career development and organizational feedback

Explore the employee's career path and future opportunities. Discuss how their experience with the company has prepared them for their new role and what could have been done better to support their career growth within the organization.

Inquire about the employee's views on the benefits package, employee engagement initiatives, and what improvements they think could enhance the workplace for current and new employees.

Step 5: Close on a positive note

End the interview on a positive note, thanking the employee for their contributions and wishing them well in their new job. This step helps to maintain a good relationship and leaves the door open for potential future re-engagement.

Step 6: Document feedback and plan for action

After the interview, document the feedback received and analyze it for patterns and actionable insights. This information should be used to inform HR practices, improve the workplace environment, and enhance strategies for retaining top talent and ensuring high levels of job satisfaction among future and current employees.

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Exit interview best practices

When performing exit interviews, there are best practices you can follow to make the departing team member feel comfortable. When you create a safe and friendly environment, you’ll receive more honest feedback.

[inline illustration] Tips to improve exit interviews (infographic)

Tips to improve exit interviews:

  • Pick the right time: The best time to interview those who have resigned is on their last day of work. This ensures the team member can be truthful without having reservations about how it may affect their work relationships. 

  • Keep it casual: There should be structure to your exit interview, but it doesn’t have to be formal. Follow up on each answer you receive so the interview feels like a conversation. 

  • Notice nonverbal cues: Actively listen to the team member’s answers to understand what they say. Though the individual’s words are important, pay attention to their nonverbal communication, like body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.

  • Guide the conversation: You’ll have a list of questions prepared before the interview begins, but the interview should be fluid. Instead of leading the conversation based on your questions, guide it with the team member’s answers. 

  • Encourage transparency: To get genuine answers from the team member, ask them for transparency at the beginning of the interview. 

  • Take notes: To remember the feedback team members give you, be sure to take notes. Don’t let your note taking disrupt the flow of the exit interview, but jot down brief comments so you retain any feedback you receive. 

Strive to make the exit interview feel comfortable. It’s an opportunity to gain insight from the departing team member.  

Use exit interviews to create a better workplace

The exit interview process is extremely valuable when done right. It’s an opportunity for you and the departing team member to have a candid conversation without reservations. If you can get the departing team member to speak openly about their experience, you’ll receive constructive feedback. With this feedback, you can improve the work environment for current employees and increase employee satisfaction.

Work management software can help you track retention rates, take notes during exit interviews, and implement an improvement plan. Whether you’re an HR manager or a team lead, you’ll need clarity and organization to take action. When everyone is on the same page, team members will be happier, and you’ll reach your goals faster.

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FAQ: Exit Interview

What's the point of exit interviews?

Exit interviews give human resources departments vital insights into the employee experience, helping them to pinpoint the reasons behind an employee leaving to take on a new job. This feedback is invaluable for enhancing workplace culture and strategies to boost employee morale, which will ultimately aid in retaining top talent.

What to expect in exit interviews?

During exit interviews, employees can anticipate a one-on-one, in-person, or face-to-face conversation that explores their job satisfaction and reasons for seeking a new opportunity. The discussion might touch upon their job description, workplace environment, and the factors influencing their pursuit of a new opportunity. It's a chance to leave on a positive note and share feedback that could improve the experience for future employees.

Should you be honest in an exit interview?

Being honest during an exit interview is essential for giving the organization the feedback it needs to improve employee engagement and make changes. During the offboarding process, it's important to maintain both professionalism and honesty to guarantee that everyone departs on good terms.

Are exit interviews mandatory?

Exit interviews are not universally mandatory; their requirement varies between organizations. Some companies view them as essential for continuous improvement, while others may not enforce them as strictly. These discussions, whether formalized through an exit interview form or conducted more informally, help an organization grow and improve conditions for new employees.

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