30 Top Exit Interview Questions to Ask

A hiring manager asks leadership interview questions.

Too often, especially during times of high turnover in the labor market, exit interviews are seen as an uncomfortable formality, which may explain why so few employees opt to attend them and so few employers give them a convincing reason to do so. Rather than viewing offboarding interviews as just one more task to check off your to-do list, surveying and interviewing departing employees should be seen as a cost-effective way to gain valuable, actionable data that can improve your recruitment and retention strategies, workplace culture, and management practices. You just have to ask the right questions. The 30 exit interview questions contained in this article can help make this possible.

What Is an Exit Interview?

Proper offboarding should include a review of the departing employee’s rights and obligations, such as returning company equipment. But this phase of the offboarding process should not be conflated with the information gathering that will take place in the exit interview, which should focus on the departing employee’s impressions of their role, manager, and your company culture.

Best Practices

Some C-suite executives may be required to take part in an exit interview, but you cannot require most employees to attend one. Making clear that participation is voluntary and confidential and offering incentives, such as gift certificates, can improve participation rates.

Invite all employees to take part in your exit interview or survey process, even those who are leaving due to layoffs or being fired for cause, though for these employees you may need to amend the parameters. Rather than assuring confidentiality, for example, make it clear that you will be keeping the interview notes on file. Interviews with highly valued employees should be preceded by a stay interview and adjusted to include invitations for future professional contact.

Questions That Gauge Management Practices

These exit interview questions will help you evaluate your management team and practices so you can make any necessary improvements.

  • Did management adequately recognize and reward your contributions?
  • Did you feel like your managers were clear about the goals and expectations of your role?
  • Did you have all the tools, training, and resources you needed to succeed in your position?
  • Did you feel comfortable talking to your direct manager about workplace issues and challenges? How about your department head or other members of your management team?
  • Were you given adequate performance feedback?
  • Were there management practices or policies that you did not understand or think should be reconsidered?
  • Did you feel like a valued member of your team and department?

Questions That Gauge Workplace Culture

These exit interview questions can pinpoint areas in which your employees might need additional resources, help you reconceive workflow so that difficult tasks are shared by more than one person, or gain insight into how your company culture is perceived by employees.

  • What are some areas in which our organization can improve?
  • How could management improve the employee experience?
  • What did you like most and least about your role?
  • If you could change one thing about our workplace, what would it be?
  • Did you feel as if your professional development goals were supported?
  • What could we have done that might have prevented you from looking for outside opportunities?
  • How would you describe our company’s culture?
  • How could we improve our onboarding, training, and professional development policies?
  • Did you have a clear sense of how your work contributed to the company’s core mission?

Questions Intended to Extend Your Professional Relationship

These exit interview questions are designed to make it clear to valued employees that they would be to your workplace in the future. These conversation starters can forge an ongoing relationship and encourage exiting employees to share career news with you, especially about newly acquired skills and certifications. The hope is that these questions will prompt your departing top-performers to connect via social media and maintain a positive attitude toward your workplace.

  • Would you like to share contact information and stay in touch?
  • Would you like us to contact you when we have opportunities that we think might be a good fit for you?
  • Under what circumstances might you consider returning to work here in the future?
  • What are your long-term goals and what types of roles are you hoping to grow into in the future?
  • What will you miss most about working here?
  • Would you like us to keep you apprised of exciting new developments within the organization?

Questions That Can Improve Your Hiring Process

These exit interview questions can help you revise the job description you’ll use to replace your exiting employee, ask more targeted questions during candidate interviews, and help you highlight the most appealing aspects of your workplace.

  • What led you to accept your new offer?
  • What are you looking forward to most in your new role?
  • What was your favorite part of your job?
  • Is there anything we need to change about your role?
  • Would you recommend our company as a possible employer for a friend? Why or why not?
  • Are there benefits and opportunities your new employer offers that we lack?
  • What qualities should we look for in your replacement?
  • Do you think that your job description changed during your tenure? If so, how?

Use the Answers to Your Exit Interview Questions to Improve Your Hiring Practices

You can use exit interview data to optimize your job descriptions, recruitment strategies, interview and candidate selection process, company culture, and employer brand.