All About Exit Interviews

Updated August 12, 2022

Many employers conduct exit interviews at the end of an important employee's tenure to gain information and additional context about why a worker is leaving their position. This meeting is a chance for you to provide your opinions and offer tips for the company to help them improve. An exit interview lets companies know about employee experiences and make policy changes when needed. In this article, we will review some helpful information about what an exit interview is, why it's important, some common things that interviewers ask and how you can prepare good answers.

What is an exit interview?

An exit interview is a survey that human resources representatives or people in similar positions conduct with an employee who wants to resign or is being dismissed. Managers can use the information they gather to pinpoint problem areas and decide what the company should improve on or change. Exit interviews can be a learning experience for both parties, and they can offer insight into how managers can reduce turnover, improve their employees' quality of life and make the company more appealing to potential applicants.

Why is an exit interview important?

Organizations that strive for innovation and employee satisfaction often want to know what drives their employees to consider positions at other organizations. Asking employees is the best way to get that information. By analyzing that information and reviewing it carefully, companies can correct problems early on and do better than competitors. Employers can learn about the experiences of employees, the behaviour of supervisors, ways to make procedures fair and efficient, and more.

Taking on new hires is an expensive process, and organizations will often incur more costs if those new employees choose to leave early on. Asking the right questions and turning that data into actionable solutions can be an effective tool to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

Related: How to Quit a Job the Right Way

Example answers to common exit interview questions

Understanding how to clearly and effectively answer questions leads to better exit interviews. The following list provides example questions with tips on how to approach them:

Why are you leaving your job?

Your employer might ask why you are leaving to discover if you have received an offer for a better position or if you just feel like pursuing a different career. Try to balance politeness and honesty when you answer this question. If applicable, talk about the skills and experience you hope to receive from your next job, as well as what you learned at your current job.

Example: "The issue I brought up previously has been going on for quite some time now. Although I still try my best to work around it, it hinders my work output. I have enjoyed working here and have learned a lot of useful information during my employment. However, I have achieved everything that I can in this role. While I have received valuable experience for the future, I feel that the time is right to increase my experience level, improve my abilities and advance my career."

Related: Common Reasons for Leaving a Job and How to Explain Them

What caused you to leave?

If applicable, use this question to get to the core of the issue and let employers know when and why you decided to look for other opportunities. You can let your former employer know when your job started to be less satisfying and point to areas where improvement is necessary.

Example: "I experienced recurring difficulties with software after a company upgrade. Although I mentioned this issue repeatedly, no fixes were provided. Since it continues to impact my performance, I believe I would have more opportunities to advance my career at an organization that keeps up with changes in technology."

Related: 13 Signal To Help You Decide When To Quit Your Job

Did you feel you were well-equipped to do your job?

A question like this can help companies retain employees and make sure that they have the most skilled workers. For example, if company software doesn't work at the highest standard, the manager can take immediate action to rectify that situation.

Example: "In most cases, yes. However, our computers would have benefited from software upgrades. Increased speed and performance would positively impact our productivity."

Related: What Is an Engaged Employee? (And How to Boost Engagement)

How would you describe the company culture?

This is another question where managers can try to identify trends over time. These trends help to identify employee concerns, and they can help separate legitimate problems from personal opinions.

Example: "We tend to have a very friendly atmosphere. Management could be a bit less harsh when things go wrong, but as long as you do the job well, they keep to themselves."

Related: What is Company Culture? (With a List of Different Types)

What are your opinions about management policies, and do you have any suggestions for how we can improve?

This question gives you the chance to help your former employer see the situation from your view. Stay fair and objective when you share feedback. Be specific, stay calm, use positive language when possible, and focus on making the company better for future employees.

Example: "Overall, I was satisfied with the way that management helped me in my job but there is still some room for improvement. Employee turnover in my department is high, and we sometimes feel overworked because of the number of open positions. However, if the company empowers new employees to feel welcome and independent from the start and makes training for new hires more extensive, it can become more successful by using their innovative ideas, high productivity and enthusiasm to add value to the company. This seems like a better solution than waiting for vague directives and struggling to stay on schedule."

Related: What Are the Four Functions of Management? (With Tips)

When have you felt proud about your accomplishments with the company?

This is an excellent time for you to share a good experience that you had with the business and remind managers about how you helped achieve goals, reduce costs, and increase efficiency. Everyone wants to know when they get things right, including your manager, and acknowledging the positive aspects of your position can make people more willing to correct problems.

Example: "The work for the last client took a bit more time than we planned, but they were impressed with how thorough and detailed we were. It made me very proud to be a part of the team."

Related: How to Answer: “What Accomplishment Are You Most Proud Of?”

Do you feel that you received complete, thorough training?

Businesses want their employees to feel confident and prepared for their positions. By talking about your experiences as a new employee, you can help future hires and the company. If you were not confident or your training was not thorough, let your former employer know. Share some practical ideas so that future workers can be better prepared.

Example: "The best thing you can do for new hires is to ensure that they know their roles and give them the tools needed to do their job. I did not always feel as though I had all of the resources I needed to do my job well, so I think new employees can benefit from more frequent training. The company computer system is very complex, but trainers only spent about 20% of the class teaching us the procedures we needed to complete customer requests quickly and correctly. Regular continuing education and updates about future changes can also help employees complete their tasks well."

Related: Understanding the Importance of Training Employees

Do you think the business supported you and your career goals?

When you answer this question, try to let your employer know how they met or exceeded your expectations and helped you. Think about the times when you received additional training or education, and give feedback about when you felt supported and when you did not.

Example: "When I started working here, I was very excited about an opportunity to advance my position and increase my experience and knowledge. While the business has given me some chances to learn useful information, I have not accomplished many of my career goals. I would have liked to stay with the organization, but there are more opportunities for advancement in the industry with competitors."

Related: 12 Examples of Career Goals for Professional Growth

Tips to prepare for an exit interview

Keep these points in mind when you consider the answers for your exit interview:

  • Be objective: Do your best to keep your focus on the position. Discuss the business as a whole instead of the individuals who work there.

  • Prepare your answers: Think about what you should say before the interview and prepare some talking points. You can also ask a friend or coworker for help.

  • Take some notes: Creating a detailed record of the exit interview will help you recall what you and the interviewer talked about and provide an accurate record.

  • Consider your body language: Before the interview, take some deep breaths and do your best to relax. That way, you can remain focused and calm. Also, pay attention to nonverbal signals from interviewers.

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