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Exit Interviews: The Definitive Guide

8 min read
Last Updated on 28 January, 2021
Exit Interviews: The Definitive Guide

The idea of conducting an exit interview may seem like a matter of inconvenience to many.

After all, why invest anything- be it time or resources- for someone who plans to leave your company through weeks’ notice.

Between the grief of replacing the steady trickle of employees leaving and hiring for new talents, conducting such interviews might be the last thing on your mind.

But here's a little inside secret for you. Exit interviews conducted are supposed to be for your benefit.

Let's take a step back and understand what does an exit interview means.

An exit interview is held with an employee who is about to leave a company. Typically, it gets conducted to discuss the employees' decision to leave and their experience working for the company.

An average employer views conducting the exit interviews as a "corporate ritual" to get over with. They don't stop and consider the various benefits that these interviews bring to the table if implemented correctly.

5 Major Benefits Of Conducting The Exit Interviews

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Here are some of the many benefits of conducting the exit interviews before employees leave:

Benefit 1: Discover the reality of the existing company culture

A company's culture gets built upon its employees: the past as well as the present ones. It can be hard for employees to criticize the work environment when your company is employing them. Departing employees feel more honest and forthcoming with their views of their experience in the company.

Benefit 2: Increase employee retention

People leave every day. Nevertheless, it is always a shock when it happens.

With an employee's decision to leave for the greener pastures comes the normal grief of finding a suitable replacement while considering the day to day impact that an exiting employee will have on the team.

Do you know that the reasons behind departing employees are continually changing?Do you have any data to back up the reasons for the high employee turnover? Is it the job description? Or is the low salary the real dealbreaker?

These are just some of the questions that a face to face exit interview will help you make sense of.

Benefit 3: Gain Constructive Feedback

When done effectively, data collected through these interviews will help gain valuable insight in the form of feedback. This final form of contribution will prove to be very beneficial in the long run.

Departing employees tend to be more honest, and forthcoming in describing the good, the bad, and the ugly. More often, you may find yourself facing some form of negative feedback. Take it with a grain of salt. Look upon this employee feedback that you receive as a learning opportunity to improve upon.

Benefit Four: "Patterns" in the Exit Interview Data

Don't just conduct these interviews for the sake of it. An effective exit interview doesn't try to reverse the resignation. It works to seek out the patterns for why good employees leave. These very patterns will help you outline the retention strategies through which you can reduce further turnover in your company.

Benefit 5: Cost-effective

Generally, exit interviews are easy to conduct, get over fast, don't need a budget, and rewards you with a lot of information. In other words, sort of like a magical boon for your company's human resources department. It is a small investment- of time and resources- which will enable you to reap great rewards.

7 Ways To Conduct An Effective Exit Interview

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While a departing employee may seem like the last person, you should try to impress, never forget a crucial point. Every exiting employee is the best form of "advertisement" that your company can invest in. They might not be a part of your company anymore, but they still will talk about their experience there.

Generally, it makes sense that you provide a departing employee with a farewell experience that shows your company in a good light.

If you are worried about conducting compelling exit interviews, keep these following seven pointers in mind:

1. Choose the interview format

The ease of doing an exit interview should keep both parties in mind. For an interviewer, holding a face to face interview is the best bet to get the most out of the meeting.

Through a face to face interview, you can show that you care about what the exiting employee has to say.

A face to face interview will enable the discussion to flow like a conversation. It, in turn, will make the interviewee relax enough to provide you with some valuable employee feedback that you can work with to improve retention.

Nothing says goodbye as a warm handshake and a pat on the back. However, there's a downside to it. Not every exiting employee will likely feel comfortable with a face to face interview. Your exit interview is less likely to yield satisfactory results if the employee doesn't want to be there!

To combat such scenarios, consider offering a departing employee the alternative to a face-to-face meeting. It can be in the form of an online questionnaire or might even be a phone interview.

2. Know What Questions To Ask

It is better to prepare beforehand and know what questions to ask instead of diving in with a bunch of unrelated questions that won't be any good for future analysis. But try to make the entire interview look unscripted or otherwise, the whole good vibe of the meeting will go haywire.

Also, assure the departing employee that the interview is entirely confidential. Their name will nowhere get disclosed while sharing the data collected.

3. Know What Questions To Avoid

No matter your intentions and how much you want to ask them, some questions should be avoided at all costs during an exit interview. Try to avoid these following questions:

  • Questions about specific people or team members.
  • Issues related to office gossip and work environment.
  • Downright questions about why they are leaving the company.
  • Questions that try to change their mind about leaving.

Such questions will result in making the employees feel guilty, defensive, or just plain unhappy. Ensure that the last thing a departing employee takes from your company is a positive experience and not a session of feeling cornered and being asked uncomfortable questions.

4. Share The Feedback

To get the most out of an exit interview, you must regularly analyze the data collected. A single employee feedback won't give you any valuable data. But on the other hand, data collected from diverse sources can give you real and concise information.

Very often, someone other than the hr department may need access to the employee feedback data. You may notice a pattern or similar issues when conducting several exit interviews in a row. In this situation, you can explore the employee feedback with the leadership team and get help from the executive on that team to figure out a solution.

5. Keep The Interview Short And Simple

The period of departure is an uncomfortable time for both the employer and the exiting employee.

Whenever possible, the exit interview should get led by someone other than the departing employee's supervisor. Your best bet is to have someone from the hr department conduct the interview. Interview in a private location (e.g., a conference room) and keep the conversation short.

A departing employee will probably not want to get stuck in an hour-long meeting on their last day. Give them the choice of when and how do they want to do their exit interviews. In case of a face to face interview, try to keep the conversation open, honest, and to the point.

6. Communicate The Value Of Feedback To The Departing Employee

Remember that some departing employees feel hesitant to share honest responses because they worry that negative feedback may lead to a bad reference.

Let the employee know that you will remove identifying information from their feedback when sharing it with others. Give the employee their final check and any required paperwork. Then spend the remainder of the interview asking questions to learn about the employee's decision to leave.

7. Have Survey Tools At Hand

Suppose you are keen on obtaining exit interview data that will be relevant in highlighting the problem areas of your company. In that case, your best option is to conduct exit interviews through an online survey tool.

An online survey tool provides a surplus of benefits, such as:

Predefined intelligent questions

You don't have to fumble around about what questions to ask in the exit interview. An online survey tool makes it easier to get the relevant employee feedback data with a set of predefined questions.


The time required to complete an online survey is, on average, two thirds faster than traditional face to face exit interviews. Thus you can save the time wasted on- scheduling the meeting, conducting the interview, analyzing the result, and so on.

Quicker to analyze

Online survey results can be analyzed quickly and look at the real-time analytics of the gathered exit interview data. Respondents input their data, and it is automatically stored electronically. The analysis thus becomes easier and can be streamlined, and is available immediately.

Vantage Pulse is a data-driven survey tool with a module dedicated to conducting exit interviews. It introduces a questionnaire in a way that appeals to the respondent, thus making it easy to follow and inviting to complete. It also helps you identify the key areas of progress and highlights the problems that may ultimately lead to high turnover rates. What's more? The questions are short and precise, ensuring less time consuming and a much smoother exit experience for the departing employees.

The 18 Best Exit Interview Questions

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Need some help with some effective exit interview questions? Here are some of the most meaningful questions which you can present before your departing employees:

  1. How would you describe your working relationship with your manager?
  2. According to you, what could your manager do to improve the company culture?
  3. What was the best thing about your day to day duties?
  4. Is there anything you would you like to change your job description?
  5. What did you appreciate the most about the company culture?
  6. Which aspect of the company culture can be improved to create a better workplace?
  7. Did you have sufficient resources and support available while doing your job?
  8. Was your job description correctly explained during the hiring process?
  9. Were you aware of the level of expectations from you?
  10. Did you receive enough constructive feedback that helped you in your day to day activities?
  11. How can you describe your experience with the company’s employee feedback process?
  12. Did you feel engaged in our company?
  13. Did you clearly understand and feel a part of the achievement of the company’s goals?
  14. Did management help you in achieving your career goals?
  15. What are the essential qualities you think the company should seek in your replacement?
  16. Do you think anything should be added or removed from the job description itself?
  17. What would make you consider working for this company again in the future?
  18. Would you recommend our company as an excellent place to work with your friends and family?

To Conclude: Exit Interviews Are Good

One of the best things about exit interviews is how it can give you a chance to see off a person who was there for you through your struggles, in a heartfelt and meaningful way.

Knowing how you can improve upon that experience further, would only be the icing on the cake. Thus, following the before mentioned, seven tactics would act as an indispensable resource for you to provide a hassle-free and smooth interview experience.

Do you know any other ways through which an exit interview becomes an experience to remember? Tell us in the comments below!

This article is written by Barasha Medhi who is a part of the marketing team at Vantage Circle. Barasha can be found either searching for interesting HR, company culture, and corporate buzzwords to write about or looking at pictures of cozy Bel Air mansions. For any related queries, contact