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Meeting Tips

71 Exit Interview Questions to Ask Employees

June 24, 2024
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June 24, 2024
Anika Jahin
71 Exit Interview Questions to Ask Employees
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Ever wondered why a high-performing employee suddenly decides to leave your company?

Is it the workplace environment, the job description, or perhaps the employee benefits?

Employee turnover is a costly reality for businesses, impacting everything from productivity to recruitment efforts. While some departures are inevitable, exit interviews can be a helpful tool to understand the root causes and find valuable insights that can help you retain top talent and improve your overall work environment.

This blog explores the ins and outs of exit interviews. It provides 71 exit interview questions to ask departing employees, along with essential tips for conducting effective interviews, analyzing the data, and implementing changes that boost employee morale.

So, let's dive into it.

What Is an Exit Interview?

An exit interview is a formal conversation conducted with an employee who is leaving the company. It's essentially an opportunity to gather honest feedback from them about their experience at your organization.

This feedback can cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Job satisfaction with their role and responsibilities
  • Company culture and workplace environment
  • Management style and communication with their supervisor(s)
  • Work-life balance and overall well-being
  • Reasons for leaving, including any alternative employment opportunities they may be pursuing
  • Suggestions for improvement in various aspects of the company

Here are some key benefits of conducting exit interviews:

  • Improved employee retention: By understanding why employees leave, you can address underlying issues and take steps to retain your top talent.
  • Enhanced employee morale: Demonstrating that you value their feedback shows your employees that their opinions matter, which can boost morale and engagement.
  • Identification of problem areas: Exit interviews can help you uncover issues within your company, such as skill gaps, training deficiencies, or communication breakdowns.
  • Informed decision-making: The insights gathered can guide strategic decisions related to company culture, benefits packages, and the overall work environment.
  • Stronger employer brand: By actively seeking feedback and acting on it, you can create a more positive reputation for your company, attracting future talent.

5 Tips for Conducting Effective Exit Interviews

Now that you understand the importance of exit interviews, let's explore some key strategies for conducting them effectively.

Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of your conversations with departing employees:

(1) Planning and Preparation

  • Schedule the interview at a convenient time for the employee, ideally before their last day.
  • Choose a private and comfortable location where the employee feels safe to speak openly.
  • Prepare a list of exit interview questions tailored to the employee's role, tenure, and reason for leaving (if known).

(2) Building Rapport and Setting Expectations

  • Begin by establishing a friendly and professional rapport with the employee.
  • Explain the purpose of the interview and assure them that their confidentiality will be maintained.
  • Emphasize that their honest feedback is valued and will be used to improve the company.

(3) Active Listening and Open-Ended Questions

  • Practice active listening skills, giving the employee your full attention and allowing them to elaborate on their responses.
  • Ask open-ended questions that encourage them to share their experiences and perspectives in detail.
  • Avoid leading questions or making assumptions about their reasons for leaving.

(4) Addressing Sensitive Topics

  • Be prepared to address sensitive topics with professionalism and empathy.
  • If the employee brings up negative feedback, don't become defensive. Listen attentively and try to understand their perspective.

(5) Expressing Gratitude

  • Thank the employee for their time and contributions to the company.
  • Wish them well in their future endeavors.

71 Exit Interview Questions to Ask

Now, let's explore the primary topic of this blog: the exit interview questions you can utilize to gather insightful information from departing employees.

This comprehensive list covers various aspects of the employee experience, categorized for easy reference:

General Questions

  1. What prompted you to start looking for another job?
  2. What made you decide to leave the company?
  3. What could have been done differently to keep you here?
  4. How would you describe your overall experience working at the company?

Job Responsibilities and Challenges

  1. What were your main responsibilities?
  2. How has your job description changed since you were hired?
  3. Did you feel equipped to do your job well?
  4. What were the best and worst aspects of your job?
  5. Did you feel your job was aligned with your career goals?
  6. Were you given the opportunity to take on new responsibilities?
  7. How did your job description change since you were hired?
  8. Did you feel your skills and abilities were fully utilized in your role?
  9. Were you satisfied with the level of autonomy and decision-making in your job?
  10. Did you have a clear understanding of your performance expectations?

Management and Leadership

  1. How would you describe your relationship with your direct supervisor or first line manager?
  2. Did you feel your manager provided clear expectations and feedback?
  3. Did you feel comfortable approaching your manager with questions or concerns?
  4. How would you rate the communication style and accessibility of your manager?
  5. Did you feel your manager provided adequate support and guidance for your professional development?
  6. Were you satisfied with the leadership and management team's vision and direction for the company?
  7. Did you feel your manager recognized and appreciated your contributions?
  8. How would you describe the level of trust and respect between you and your manager?

Work Environment and Culture

  1. How would you describe the company culture?
  2. Did you feel like you could openly express your ideas and opinions?
  3. How would you describe the level of teamwork and collaboration within your department?
  4. Did you feel valued and respected by your colleagues and coworkers?
  5. How would you rate the overall work-life balance offered by the company?
  6. Did you feel the company's values and mission aligned with your own?
  7. Were you satisfied with the physical work environment (e.g., office space, equipment, facilities)?
  8. Did you feel the company fostered an inclusive and diverse workplace?
  9. Did you ever feel harassed or bullied by anyone?

Development and Opportunities

  1. Did you have opportunities for growth and development?
  2. Was the feedback you received constructive and helpful?
  3. Were you satisfied with the training and development programs offered?
  4. Did you feel your career goals were supported?
  5. Were there any opportunities for advancement within the company?
  6. Did you have a clear understanding of the career paths available to you?
  7. Were you provided with the resources and tools needed to develop your skills?
  8. Did you feel your manager actively supported your professional development?

Work-Life Balance

  1. How would you rate your work-life balance?
  2. Did you feel overwhelmed by your workload?
  3. Were there any issues with the flexibility of your work schedule?
  4. Did you feel the company supported both your personal and professional goals?
  5. Were you able to maintain a healthy work-life integration?
  6. Did you feel the company's policies and practices supported work-life balance?
  7. Did you ever feel burned out?

Compensation and Benefits

  1. Did you feel your salary and benefits package were competitive with the market?
  2. Were you satisfied with the company's health insurance plan and other benefits offered?
  3. Did you feel the company provided adequate opportunities for earning bonuses or incentives?
  4. Were you satisfied with the company's retirement and savings plans?
  5. Did you feel the company's compensation and benefits were equitable and fair?
  6. Were there any issues or concerns with the company's compensation and benefits structure?
  7. How do our salary and benefits compare to your new company? Were salary and benefits an important factor in your decision?

Reasons for Leaving

  1. What is the primary reason you decided to leave the company?
  2. Did you feel there were any opportunities for advancement within the company?
  3. Did you feel the company offered a clear career development path for your role?
  4. Were there any alternative employment opportunities that influenced your decision to leave?
  5. Did anything specific about the company culture or work environment contribute to your decision?
  6. Did you feel your skills and talents were being fully utilized in your current role?
  7. Were there any unresolved issues or concerns that led to your decision to leave?
  8. Did you feel you had reached the limit of your growth and development at the company?

Additional Open-Ended Questions

  1. What is one thing we could have done to improve your experience at the company?
  2. Is there anything else you would like to share about your time with the company?
  3. What advice would you give to someone considering a job at our company?
  4. What did you like most about your job?
  5. What did you like least about your job?
  6. What did you learn during your time here?
  7. What factors made you choose your new company over their competitors?
  8. What would you change about the company if you could?
  9. How do you think the company could improve the employee experience?
  10. Do you have any suggestions for how the company can better retain talented employees?

How to Analyze and Use Exit Interview Data

Gathering valuable data through exit interview questions is just the first step. To truly benefit from this information, you need to effectively analyze and utilize it.

Here's how:

Step 1: Organizing and Categorizing Data

  • Transcribe recordings or compile notes from your exit interviews.
  • Organize the data by theme or category, such as job satisfaction, company culture, or reasons for leaving.
  • Utilize data analysis tools like spreadsheets or HR software to categorize and analyze the information efficiently.

Pro tip: Using an AI note taker like Wudpecker during these interviews can ensure that all the key points and highlights are captured, allowing the interviewer to participate fully without worrying about taking notes. Also, Wudpecker allows users to go back and listen to the recordings as many times as they want.

Step 2: Identifying Trends and Patterns

  • Look for recurring themes or patterns within the data.
  • Analyze if certain issues consistently arise or if specific departments have higher turnover rates.
  • Identify areas where the company excels and areas that require improvement.

Step 3: Prioritizing Action Items

  • Based on the identified trends, prioritize the issues that require the most immediate attention.
  • Consider the severity of the issue, the number of employees affected, and the potential impact on the company.
  • Develop action plans to address the key areas for improvement.

Pro tip: Wudpecker can help you with both Steps 2 & 3. Its AI assistant listens to your meetings, highlights important points, and lets you review transcripts afterward.

With the Ask Wudpecker feature, you can identify recurring themes, note areas for improvement, and prioritize your to-do list based on meeting discussions. That means less time decoding notes and more time taking action!

Step 4: Sharing Insights and Taking Action

  • Don't let the valuable insights from exit interviews gather dust!
  • Share key takeaways and action plans with relevant stakeholders, including leadership and department heads.
  • Implement changes based on the feedback received. This could involve anything from revising training programs to improving communication channels.

Step 5: Communicating Back

  • Demonstrating that you value employee feedback goes a long way.
  • Communicate back to employees (both current and future) about how their feedback is being used to improve the company.
  • You can share anonymized summaries of key findings or highlight specific changes implemented based on their input.

Challenges and Solutions in Conducting Exit Interviews

Exit interviews bring invaluable insights to the company, but they

When you ask questions in an exit interview, you get a lot of useful information, but sometimes there can be tricky parts.

Here's a breakdown of some common hurdles and solutions to ensure you get the most out of your exit interview process:

Challenge 1: Reluctance to Provide Honest Feedback

Employees may be reluctant to provide negative feedback because they are concerned about potential retaliation or damaging professional relationships.


  • Emphasize the importance of confidentiality throughout the interview. Guarantee anonymity when reporting the data and avoid asking questions that could identify specific individuals.
  • Frame the interview as a chance to help the company improve, not assign blame.
  • Assure the employee their feedback will be used constructively to improve the workplace for future employees.

Challenge 2: Lack of Standardization

Inconsistent interview formats can lead to incomplete or incomparable data.


  • Develop a standardized list of exit interview questions that outlines key areas to cover and provides a consistent framework for all interviews.
  • This ensures you gather comprehensive data that can be easily analyzed for trends.

Challenge 3: Misinterpretation of Feedback

It can be challenging to interpret feedback correctly, especially open-ended responses.


  • Train HR representatives or whoever conducts the interviews to ask clarifying questions and actively listen to the employee's perspective.
  • Paraphrase and summarize key points to ensure understanding.
  • Use a note taker in the meeting so that you can refer back to the transcript and listen to it as many times as needed to clear any doubts or misinterpretations. Or ask AI questions about the transcript so you don't have to go through the whole thing yourself.

Challenge 4: Not Following Up on Feedback

Ignoring feedback can lead to employee discouragement and missed opportunities for improvement.


  • Establish a clear process for reviewing and acting on feedback received through exit interviews.
  • Develop an action plan to address the most pressing issues identified.
  • Communicate back to employees (both current and future) about how their feedback is being used to improve the company. This demonstrates that you value their input and are committed to creating a positive work environment.


Exit interviews are not just goodbyes; they are opportunities to gain valuable insights that can help your organization improve its employee retention rate.

Ask the right questions and use the feedback effectively. Asking the right exit interview questions can effectively help you enhance your workplace environment, boost employee morale, and reduce turnover rates.


Who Should Conduct the Exit Interview?

Ideally, a trained HR representative should conduct the interview. They possess the necessary skills to navigate sensitive topics, ensure confidentiality, and ask insightful questions.

In smaller companies, a manager from a different department might conduct the interview to avoid potential bias.

What Not to Say in an Exit Interview?

Here's a more comprehensive list of what to avoid saying in an exit interview:

  • Blaming Others: Avoid placing blame on coworkers, managers, or other departments. It creates a defensive atmosphere and discourages honest feedback.
  • Sharing Confidential Information: Don't discuss sensitive company information or trade secrets, even if the employee is leaving.
  • Negativity About the Employee: Refrain from making negative comments about the departing employee's performance or work ethic.
  • Getting Defensive: If the employee offers criticism, don't become defensive or try to justify company practices. Listen attentively and acknowledge their perspective.
  • Guaranteeing Changes: Don't make promises you can't keep. Avoid saying things like "We'll definitely implement your suggestions" unless you have a clear plan for action.
  • Burning Bridges: Maintain a professional and courteous tone throughout the interview. Don't say anything that could damage the employer-employee relationship or discourage the employee from speaking positively about the company in the future.

How Do I Prepare for an Exit Interview?

Here are some key steps to prepare for an exit interview:

  • Review the Employee's File: Familiarize yourself with the employee's role, tenure, performance reviews, and any relevant details about their departure (if known).
  • Develop Tailored Questions: Don't rely on a generic list. Craft questions specific to the employee's experience and position to gather the most relevant insights.
  • Prepare a Comfortable Setting: Choose a private location free from distractions where the employee feels safe to speak openly.
  • Set Clear Expectations: Explain the purpose of the interview and assure the employee of confidentiality.

By following these steps, you can create a welcoming environment and encourage the employee to share honest feedback.

For more detailed information on navigating potentially difficult HR meetings, check out this blog.

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