Replacing employees is time-consuming and costly — it often takes at least a month to complete the hiring process. By minimizing the number of positions you need to fill and retaining your current employees, you can save time and money.
An exit interview is a useful tool to reduce turnover and increase retention rates. It can help you gain a better understanding of what employees are looking for in their employment. Ideally, this knowledge can help you transform your company culture and improve retention rates, creating an irresistible and risk-free workplace. And if you're losing employees to your competitors, an exit interview presents an opportunity to learn why.
While conducting exit interviews may not be a natural skill for every HR department, it's worth mastering. To ensure you gather the most meaningful information, it's important to ask the right questions. Here are 10 standard exit interview questions that will help to gather important information to strengthen your organization’s talent management.
- What prompted you to start looking for another job?
This is a great question to start with and get right at the root of the potential issue your employee is facing. Making an employee feel comfortable enough to answer this question truthfully can help you identify common themes from different feedback and also opens the interview up for discussion. Overtime you can get a better sense of your workforce’s employee experience.
- What makes your new job more attractive than your present job?
This question can help you determine which opportunities, benefits, or perks your company could be offering to attract and retain top talent. All kinds of opportunities can arise to gain an understanding of what your competitors are doing well and where you can adjust accordingly..
Let’s say a pattern emerges where 80% of employees who leave your company say that they are departing because they are getting paid more competitively at their new job. This could be a trigger to calculate your compa ratio to see how your compensation package can be adjusted to better compete in the labor market.
Alternatively, employees may also feel overworked or be experiencing poor work-life wellness, and they see their new job as better supporting their wellbeing. In those cases, you can reevaluate the effectiveness of your employee wellness program, if you have one in place to begin with.
- Did you feel you had the tools, resources, and working conditions to be successful in your role?
Sometimes the problem isn’t the job itself, it’s how that job is completed. This question helps to identify any roadblocks that were in place that prevented the employee from performing at their best. Additionally, it lets you know if there was anything you could have provided that would have enabled them to be more productive or effective in their role. Understanding these details can help you address issues before they become a problem for future hires. On the other hand, a positive response will show you that the resources and working conditions available were sufficient for employees to carry out their responsibilities successfully.
- What did you like best and least about your job?
This is a great question to ask to gain valuable insights into an employee's experience in the workplace. It can also help identify areas of improvement, both on the part of the employer and the employee.
Asking what they liked best gives you an opportunity to highlight any successes and positive experiences that you may want to replicate with other employees. On the flip side, asking them what they liked least allows employers to address any dissatisfaction or potential problems before someone else might face them in future roles.
Together, these two questions provide a well-rounded view of their time working at your company and can be valuable for creating a better overall work environment. Understanding how your former employees felt about their position can inform decisions for existing staff — as well as help you shape better job descriptions for future positions.
- How would you describe the culture of our company?
Asking this question helps you identify where the company stands in terms of its organizational culture and values. Having your departing employee to explain what makes up the unique atmosphere of the workplace, what makes it special, and why employees stay or leave can provide insight into how well your organization is living up to its stated goals. And this matters: 56% of job applicants consider company culture more important than salary in terms of job satisfaction, according to a Glassdoor study.
It can also provide insights into areas that need improvement in order for current and future employees to have a positive experience. Pay close attention to their responses – there may be some themes that come up multiple times which should not be overlooked. Above all else, this question reveals whether or not your departing employee enjoyed their experience at the company and recommends changes to ensure other workers will find it rewarding too.
- Did you feel your achievements were recognized throughout your employment?
When employees know the company notices and values their contributions, it supports motivation, fuels productivity, and can decrease turnover. Learning whether or not an employee felt properly recognized at their job can give you insight into how effective your current employee recognition efforts are. Did managers offer enough encouragement? Was the employee celebrated for their accomplishments, improvements, and anniversaries? Were employees recognized with authentic gratitude and meaningful rewards?
Asking this question can reveal whether or not you need to step up your efforts. This can be as simple as offering a tangible reward to employees who have gone above and beyond to running an Employee of the Month program.
- If you could change anything about your job or the company, what would you change?
If you want to cut to the chase and really understand why someone is leaving, ask them what change the company makes to really improve the workplace. This question will help the employee to focus on the biggest or most important reason they're leaving your company, which you can address for current and future employees and solidify your employee retention efforts.
- Is there anything that would have changed your mind about leaving?
This is similar to the previous questions but takes things a step further and encourages an employee to really open up. The change that may have encouraged an employee to stay is often also the catalyst behind their reason to move on. If an employee says they may have stayed if there were more growth opportunities, it may be time to create a new position or find new employee development opportunities.
- Would you recommend this company to a friend? Why or why not?
Whether or not an employee would recommend your company to family or friends says a lot about how they feel about the company. And while this can be measured formally across your organization by calculating your eNPS, an exit interview is a good time to capture one-off data most likely to identify areas of improvement. If an employee won’t recommend your organization as an employer to those they know, you will want to know those reasons to evaluate if they can be remediated. On the flip side, if they would recommend it, you want to know what it is they appreciate about the organization so that more of your current and future employees can benefit from that experience.
- Did you share any of the concerns we discussed today with the company before deciding to leave?
This inquiry can reveal whether or not employees feel safe and comfortable voicing their concerns and opinions in the workplace. If someone never voiced their concerns, you may need to reevaluate your feedback opportunities in the workplace or encourage supervisors to welcome employee feedback. If employees don’t feel comfortable discussing their worries or didn’t have their concerns addressed, this question will hopefully prevent a similar situation from happening.
It also helps management understand whether or not they are addressing concerns properly. If the employee shared concerns but they weren’t addressed, management will want to know why. Hearing that feedback grants an opportunity to fix any existing issues before they become a bigger problem.
Retain Talent with a Culture of Wellbeing
With employee turnover on the rise, many HR leaders are struggling to keep their best talent. A solid set of questions to ask in an exit interview can help you adjust employee retention strategy to the new world of work. Disgruntled employees may give unfair assessments of your company, but a lot of workers simply find better opportunities and may be eager to offer feedback about your culture.
Across industries, workforce wellbeing is a primary determinant of turnover rates: Seven out of 10 workers would consider leaving a company that doesn’t focus on employee wellness. Companies that demonstrate that they care about employee wellbeing have a competitive edge maintaining and attracting top talent.
Offering a wellbeing program like Gympass is an easy way to live your commitment to workforce wellness. Our comprehensive wellbeing platform provides employees access to thousands of partners to support them reaching any wellness goal anywhere. Speak with a Gympass wellbeing specialist today!
- Anders, G. (2021, August 4). Can you wait 49 days? Why getting hired takes so long in engineering. LinkedIn. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/can-you-wait-49-days-why-getting-hired-takes-so-long-george-anders/
- CULTURE OVER CASH? GLASSDOOR MULTI-COUNTRY SURVEY FINDS MORE THAN HALF OF EMPLOYEES PRIORITIZE WORKPLACE CULTURE OVER SALARY. (2019, July 10). Glassdoor. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://about-content.glassdoor.com/en-us/workplace-culture-over-salary/
- Exit Interview Questions. (2023, March 3). SHRM. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/tools-and-samples/hr-forms/Pages/exit-interview-questions.aspx
- Robert Half. (2022, December 5). 14 Exit Interview Questions You Should Ask. Robert Half. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://www.roberthalf.com/blog/management-tips/14-exit-interview-questions-you-must-ask
- 10 Exit Interview Questions You Should Ask. Indeed. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://www.indeed.com/hire/c/info/10-exit-interview-questions-that-you-should-ask
- Top Must-Ask Exit Interview Questions. (2021, February 3). Glassdoor. Retrieved January 21, 2023, from https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/must-ask-exit-interview-questions/
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.