5 exit interview questions you should be asking

Every organisation wants to retain valued employees, and the best tool an employer has to understand exactly why people take the step to leave, is the exit interview.

Our quick (non-scientific) poll on LinkedIn this week asking Does your company do exit interviews? revealed 51% said Yes, surprisingly 29% said no, and even more surprisingly, 20% said Sometimes!

Exit interviews can be a source of important information that without them you might never uncover and should be part of your offboarding process. Rather than a quick thank you chat with a line manager or member of the leadership team, a member of HR holding the interview can mean employees feel more comfortable to give honest feedback and share criticism.

We’ve listed the top questions we recommend you include in your next exit interview. The aim is to establish the key factors that played a part the employee’s decision to hand in their notice and through discussing those, expose any potential weaknesses in your organisation’s processes, leadership, policies or culture. This conversation should highlight any hidden challenges and areas of opportunity for the company.

A valuable way of collecting data is to ask questions which are answered with a 1 – 5 rating, as this allows you to easily analyse responses over time and provide valuable insight as to people’s experience (good or bad) in the organisation.

In addition, take notes of any anecdotal comments made during the conversation as this provides valuable content for answers provided. It’s important not to just file those afterwards and end the process there. The information gathered should be shared with the people who can act on it and follow-up meetings should be scheduled to discuss and decide the changes you want to make to the people experience within the organisation.

Then, importantly make sure that the changes are implemented. A solid plan with steps to rectify the problems you’ve identified will deliver improvements in job satisfaction for current employees and in turn, improve your staff retention, meaning immediate savings on your bottom line, not to mention a nicer workplace, and of course happier customers.

1. What prompted you to look for another role?

This question should establish if there’s anywhere the company fell short for the employee and might prompt you to (for example) benchmark salaries against the market or revisit your appraisal process and the opportunities for advancement within the company. Have a pre-defined picklist of reasons for them to choose from to allow you to easily report on the data afterwards.

2. Did your line manager give you everything you needed to succeed?

This could encompass for example access to systems and training, the performance reviews you have in place and management style in the department.

3. Did you feel your achievements were recognised?

Whatever their individual style of leadership, line managers should be aware that recognition is important for employee motivation and morale.

4. What do you think we should change?

This question should help reveal what the employee found difficult at the company. Also asking What else could we change? is worth doing, to bring out any other problems

5. Is there anything that would have changed your mind about leaving?

The answer to this question is likely to generate some useful suggestions for your roadmap to improving retention.

By investing a small amount of time and resources in understanding why people are leaving your organisation, you’ll most certainly retain people more effectively and ensure the overall employee experience is a more enjoyable and productive one – that’s got to be worthwhile, hasn’t it?

Want some expert help? We offer project-based and ad-hoc HR support for businesses and can conduct exit interviews for you and provide analysis and recommendations for a simple fixed fee. For an obligation-free chat, get in touch. 

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