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Offboarding with a purpose: 25 great exit interview questions

Offboarding with a purpose: 25 great exit interview questions

Jonathan Davies


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17 mins read

Wed, Jun 28, '23  

Keeping your team engaged and informed can be a challenging balancing act for managers and HR professionals, especially those who manage remote workers.

When someone decides to leave, it not only affects team morale and work quality — it can also cost the company up to $100,000. That's why it's vital to learn why employees are moving on. Exit interview questions can help you do that.

The offboarding process, and exit interviews in particular, can give you a lot of helpful information about the departing employee's experience and why they decided to leave. By asking smart questions, you can make the most of exit interviews and improve your business.

What is an exit interview?

An exit interview is a chat that a person from the HR team has with an employee leaving the company. This chat is part of the employee offboarding process and happens whenever someone leaves, regardless of their job description or how long they've been with the company.

Exit interviews are an excellent opportunity to get honest feedback on the company culture, leadership, and job satisfaction. Departing employees can talk about their time at the company, why they're leaving, and suggest any improvements they think could help the organization.

Why is it important to ask strategic exit interview questions?

Exit interviews give you a unique look at your company from the employee's viewpoint. When you ask the right questions, you can uncover strengths you didn't know you had, find problems you need to fix, and learn how to create a workplace environment that supports growth and productivity.

Getting insights like this is great for business owners. Innovation and employee engagement drive growth, heavily relying on your workplace's culture and environment. Paying attention to what a departing employee says when they leave can help you improve your practices, build a stronger team, and stand out from the crowd.

Happeo, a comprehensive intranet platform, is a great tool for managing exit interviews — especially for remote teams. It's easy to use, allowing you to store essential information like an exit interview template, collect and look at feedback, and spot trends that can help you improve your company's growth and performance.

The best practices for a successful exit interview 

So you need to conduct an exit interview, but you're not quite sure about what to do or how to support the departing employee. For a worthwhile and effective exit interview process, you need to follow some best practices:

  • Meet face-to-face and give plenty of notice. Meeting face-to-face allows for more honest chats, resulting in better feedback. Giving enough notice also allows exiting employees time to reflect on their experiences and feedback, leading to more thoughtful responses.
  • Ask every departing employee the same questions. Being consistent is key to spotting and comparing patterns.
  • Avoid gossip, opinions, or talking about specific people. An exit interview should focus on professional insights, not gossip or making anyone feel uncomfortable. Keep the chat focused on the employee's experiences, job, and team.
  • Follow all company rules and laws. Respect privacy and ensure you stick to labor laws and company rules. This keeps your exit interview professional and legal and helps prevent retaliation claims.
  • Take notes during the interview. Have someone else take notes during the exit interview, or do it yourself, so you have a record of what was said. If you have to go to court later, you can show what questions you asked and what answers you received.

The 25 best exit interview questions for employees

Asking the right exit interview questions during offboarding is key. But how do you use a  strategic exit interview question to get helpful information? Here are some essential employee exit interview questions to ask:

1. What prompted you to start looking for another job?

Understanding why someone is seeking alternative employment can help you identify issues that may be impacting many employees, such as a lack of career opportunities to problems with management. The answers can guide your strategies to improve retention.

2. Did anything make your decision to leave difficult?

Something that made your employee reluctant to leave can tell you what's working well at your company. Knowing that information gives you good insights into what you should continue doing, whether it's outstanding management or great benefits.

3. Did your work here align with your career goals?

By asking this question, you can find out whether employees feel supported as they grow in their careers. If employees don't think their job responsibilities fit their career goals, you might need to improve development programs or clarify job descriptions.

4. Did we consistently uphold and demonstrate our company's values?

Company values help define the company's culture and work ethic. If current and future employees don't feel these values are present in their daily work, they might be unhappy and feel disconnected.

5. What was your experience with the company culture during your time here?

Company culture is a big part of employee happiness and engagement. Asking about it can show if cultural issues are causing employees to leave. This information can be helpful when you're working to make the company a better place.

6. Did you have the necessary training and resources to perform your job well?

This question reveals if your hiring process and onboarding programs are working. If new employees don't think they have what they need to do their jobs, you might need to change these programs. This is especially important for SaaS companies, which require a high degree of adaptability and continual learning.

7. Did you have access to the learning and development opportunities you wanted?

Continual learning is essential, especially for growing companies. If an employee's reasons for leaving include a lack of learning and growth opportunities, you might need to look at your training programs or partnerships.

8. Were there any company policies you found challenging to understand?

Employees need to understand company rules to do their jobs well. If former employees found some rules confusing, you might need to make things more straightforward or improve communication to ensure current employees understand the rules.

9. Was the company's mission and vision clear to you?

Having a clear vision and mission can give employees a sense of purpose and direction. If your departing employee was unclear about the company’s goals or values, you might need to improve your communication with other employees.

10. How was the communication within your team and with the company as a whole?

Effective communication is crucial in every organization. If communication isn't working well, it could make employees unhappy and less engaged. Tools like Happeo can help improve communication across teams and the whole company.

Trimble uses Happeo to digitally unite their workforce of over 11,000 employees

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11. Do you feel our recognition and rewards system was fair?

A fair system for rewards and recognition keeps employees happy and engaged. Employees who feel the system is biased or inadequate may feel demoralized and seek alternative employment. Checking and adjusting your reward system often can encourage employees to stay with your company.

12. How was your mental health during your time here?

Employee mental health is now a priority for many companies. If your employee struggled while at your company, consider changing your wellness efforts. Even if positive changes can't help the employee on their way out, feedback can certainly help their coworkers.

13. How could we improve our product/service?

Employees often have a unique perspective on your company since they work closely with it. You can use their valuable insights to improve your product and service, stay ahead of the competition, and meet your customers' needs more effectively.

14. How do you perceive our company's approach to work-life balance?

A good balance between work and personal life is important for engaging and retaining employees. If departing employees think your company struggles with this, you might need to offer more flexible work options or take a closer look at how you distribute work.

15. How would you rate your overall experience at our company on a scale of 1-10? Why?

This question helps sum up the overall employee experience. By asking individual employees for a number and an explanation, you can get a quick picture of how happy the employee was and what influenced their rating.

16. What did you like best about your job?

The answer to this question will tell you what your employees enjoy most about working at your company. If frequent themes pop up, such as flexibility or a supportive work environment, consider highlighting these in your company culture and branding. Promoting these features can attract future employees who share the same values.

17. Was the feedback you received from your manager helpful and constructive?

Constructive feedback from managers is a key driver of employee development. Feedback seen as unhelpful or negative could make employees less engaged and more likely to leave. Training managers to give effective feedback can help improve team relationships, employee morale, and engagement.

18. Did you find our tools and software helpful for doing your job?

The right tools and software can significantly impact productivity and job satisfaction. If employees find tools (like Happeo) helpful, it confirms their value. If they suggest other helpful tools, it can inform future investments to make work more efficient.

19. What was your relationship like with your manager and team?

Understanding how employees get along with their manager and team can give you insights into the overall team environment. If the employee leaving had problems with their manager or team, you might need to do team-building exercises or leadership training.

20. Which team member is ready to step into your role?

Apart from understanding the job's responsibilities, departing team members tend to know their colleagues' skills and abilities. Information like this helps identify team members with potential for promotion.

21. Do you feel the company appropriately handled diversity and inclusion?

Diversity and inclusion are becoming more and more important in today's workplaces. Asking if the employee felt included can show where you need to work harder or make changes in your diversity efforts.

22. If you could change one thing about your job or the company, what would it be?

This open-ended question lets departing employees give candid feedback on any issues not covered in the previous questions. The answers can reveal issues and areas for improvement, from how you work to your company structure.

23. What do you think about our company’s response to feedback and suggestions?

A company's response to employee feedback greatly impacts employee happiness. This question can help you determine if your company's current feedback systems are working and if employees feel leadership hears and addresses their suggestions.

24. What are you most excited about in your new job?

Employees' excitement about their new position can reveal concerns they might not discuss otherwise, like salary, the benefits package, or chances for career growth. You can use this information to see how competitive your company is and make employees happier.

25. Would you consider coming back to work here in the future? Why or why not?

This question can help summarize an employee's overall experience and perception of the company. A positive answer shows good employee experiences, while negative feedback can show areas that need immediate attention. Both positive and negative feedback can help you improve your employee retention strategy.

Bonus: Is there anything else you want to talk about that we haven’t discussed?

Ending the conversation with an open-ended question allows the departing employee to share any other information they feel is relevant. Giving them a place to voice their opinion or grievance gives them a chance to be heard.

Turn goodbyes into opportunities with Happeo

Carefully planned exit interviews can transform your offboarding process into an opportunity to improve your organization. Happeo offers a central, easy-to-use platform that supports your HR tasks, including offboarding. Our intranet features make communication easier, and analysis tools can help you follow patterns and trends from exit interviews. 

Make the most of each goodbye. Learn more about how Happeo can help you or request a demo to see how Happeo can turn exit interviews into growth opportunities.