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Exit Interviews, Why You Should Do Them

Kathy, your long time administrative assistant just gave her two-week notice.  Whether you saw it coming or not, (and I’m sure you’ll take little comfort in this next statement), you can learn something from every experience.
An exit interview is typically a meeting between at least one representative from a company’s human resources (HR) department (in most small offices, the owner) and a departing employee. (The departing employee usually has voluntarily resigned vs. getting laid off or fired.)

What’s the Purpose of an Exit Interview?

Human resources departments conduct exit interviews to gather data for improving working conditions and retaining employees. However, a hidden purpose is to help employers avoid costly litigation down the road, caused by “disgruntled” employees. In other words, limit your comments and take good notes.
About Exit Interview Questions
Employers ask exit interview questions verbally or in questionnaire form. These days, it’s not uncommon for exit interview questions to be in electronic questionnaire form on computers.
Exit Interview Questions – Samples
Listed below are samples of the types of exit interview questions that employers commonly ask departing employees.

  • What is your primary reason for leaving?
  • Did anything trigger your decision to leave?
  • What was most satisfying about your job?
  • What was least satisfying about your job?
  • What would you change about your job?
  • Did your job duties turn out to be as you expected?
  • Did you receive enough training to do your job effectively?
  • Did you receive adequate support to do your job?
  • Did you receive sufficient feedback about your performance between merit reviews?
  • Were you satisfied with this company’s merit review process?
  • Did this company help you to fulfill your career goals?
  • Do you have any tips to help us find your replacement?
  • What would you improve to make our workplace better?
  • Were you happy with your pay, benefits and other incentives?
  • What was the quality of the supervision you received?
  • What could your immediate supervisor do to improve his or her management style?
  • Based on your experience with us, what do you think it takes to succeed at this company?
  • Did any company policies or procedures (or any other obstacles) make your job more difficult?
  • Would you consider working again for this company in the future?
  • Would you recommend working for this company to your family and friends?
  • How do you generally feel about this company?
  • What did you like most about this company?
  • What did you like least about this company?
  • What does your new company offer that this company doesn’t?
  • Can this company do anything to encourage you to stay?
  • Before deciding to leave, did you investigate a transfer within the company?
  • Did anyone in this company discriminate against you, harass you or cause hostile working conditions?
  • Any other comments?

It’s always a sobering moment when an employee decides to leave. The end of any relationship is usually an uncomfortable moment for everyone involved.  Use the information you gain to your advantage and hopefully you can limit the number of exit interviews you ever have to do.