Getting The Most Out Of Exit Interviews

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In a world where data analysis and customer feedback heavily influences business success, capturing valuable information is a high priority. The same is true in regards to drawing information internally from team members to enable a company to make improvements. Some of the most honest and candid feedback available is from people leaving the company. The tool to collect that is the humble exit interview.

Why bother with exit interviews?

Whilst many exiting team members are sceptical about the value of an exit interview, when performed well it can bring massive benefits to the business. It is easy to assume the reasons behind employees leaving but without a good exit interview, you could be missing out on the opportunity to gauge useful insight. Whether the reason is related to pay, development opportunities or even a poor relationship with their manager, collating data will help to identify and prevent patterns.

Your business may have seen an unusual number of the team leaving, on a business-wide scale or specifically with one team or area. The best way to find out the reason for the spike is to ask the people directly. Asking their manager is not necessarily going to reveal the true reason, particularly if the manager is part of the problem!

Collecting this data will enable HR and leaders to analyse recurring issues and implement changes. If there is a pattern around people leaving to join a company that offers better pay, maybe the pay structure requires attention. Or if one particular manager is losing a lot of their team, maybe they need extra support.

Without the insight of a good exit survey, it is difficult to pinpoint the genuine reasons behind people leaving.

How to develop a good exit survey

There are different approaches including asking the leaver to complete an exit interview form or simply having a discussion, perhaps with someone from HR or a third party.

A combination of both a discussion and the standard exit interview template may get more valuable information. For example, the person may feel happier writing down any issues or they may feel they can open up more to a person than a form.

Exit interview questions

When deciding which questions to ask, you have to think carefully about the output they will achieve. Asking closed questions will not provide the same details as open questions. So avoid asking questions such as ‘Are you leaving due to pay?’ or providing say 5 options for them to choose from. This will force them to select the most appropriate rather than going into more detail. It could be a pay related reason but more to do with the fact that their manager had not rated them high enough to get a pay rise. So looking the pay structure in general wasn’t the issue but maybe the process of assessment wasn’t conducted well.

Some sample exit interview questions

  • Why did you apply for another job?
  • For what reasons did you decide to accept another job?
  • How would you describe the culture of our company?
  • Is there anything we could have done that would have prevented you from leaving the company?
  • What would you change about the company?

These are really open questions that allow the individual to go into detail and give rationale for leaving from their personal perspective. If you want to stop losing good employees then a good exit interview process is crucial.


Don’t be afraid to fall back on exit interview templates for questions. A completed a standard exit interview form is better than nothing.

Use the questions above and throw in some personalised questions that are company specific. The exit interview is your last chance to close a vital feedback loop when everything is fresh in the leavers memory. It won’t be possible two weeks down the line and the chance for improvement will have been lost.

Matt Wallace

Matt Wallace

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