What to Include in an Exit Interview and Why?


Feb 11, 2021

Exit interviews are often ignored or avoided, there may be a rush to make sure the employee is fully off-boarded and exit interview priority falls. Especially if the employee is leaving due to tense or awkward reasons it can be easier to let them leave quietly and then quickly move on.

No matter what the reason is for the candidate to leave or if it is under amicable or tense relationship the exit interview is no less important. Exit interviews are a big part of the company culture and show in general, that companies value their employees even if they leave. This is important as even after employees have left a company they may share their experience with future prospective candidates. Kununu and Glassdoor are very important tools for applicants, they are also platforms in which old employees can leave their ratings on the company. A non-existing off-boarding culture is always reflected in the ratings in these platforms. It is also your last chance to get honest insight into the feelings of the employees which can help improve employee experience. The interview allows you to reveal internal problems as employees are more willing to discuss problems openly when they are on their way out of the company. Additionally it helps improve the company image and reconcile any difficult relationships.

The exit interview should include finding out why the employee is leaving, how they feel about the company and any suggestions they have to improve the company and employee experience.

Interview Questions

Personio identifies 12 questions that should be identified during the exit interview, these should be consistent for all employees that are leaving in order to compare and evaluate results. Use these questions to ensure that you cover all of the topics that you feel are relevant.

  1. Why have you decided to leave? What conditions at the new job were a deciding factor for you leave?
  2. What would need to be changed to get you to stay?
  3. Have you voiced your criticisms in the past? How do you feel it was handled?
  4. How was the onboarding process?
  5. How was your relationship with the management? Would you have liked it to be different?
  6. How did you find the team atmosphere?
  7. How could the company have suited your career plans better/could you have imagined moving up the ranks?
  8. Does the reason for you leaving us go back to your original interview? Was the original interview a clear introduction to the company and position?
  9. Would you recommend a friend for a job at the company? Why/Why not?
  10. How would you describe our company culture? Would you have preferred anything to be different?
  11. What advice would you give for improving employee retention?
  12. What should we consider when recruiting for your position?

If you don't feel these questions cover all of the topics there some additional questions you may want to consider:

Pay: Did you find the salary to be appropriate? Communication: Was there sufficient communication within the company? Did the employee express any dissatisfaction earlier? Was the employee's opinion asked within the company and taken seriously? Equipment: Was the necessary equipment available to do the required work? What additional equipment would have been useful? Corporate culture: How would the culture and characteristics of the company be defined by the employee? What improvements would they recommend for in the future?

This questionnaire should NOT be filled out by the employee but instead used to guide the interview in an informal way.

The Interviewer

It may seem that the interview should be the direct person who knows the employee best. However in this situation employees are unlikely to be completely honest about their experience, due to this it should be the HR department can conduct all exit interviews. To reiterate - the interview should NOT include any supervisors! It should also be completely confidential in order for the employee to be completely honest.

Create a relaxed atmosphere

Make sure that references are given to the employee before the exit interview in order to reduce any fear of the consequences. Ensure that the interview is informal and not an interrogation. It should be a relaxed meeting in a private and comfortable environment.


As the interviewer make sure you LISTEN to the employee, it is not the time to get your option across or to defend the company but to take advice, criticism and learn from the employee. Not only listen to the employee but be proactive and actively work on their suggestions, especially with recurring complaints and reasons for leaving. Use this as a way to ensure your future employees feel valued.

Thank the employee

Make sure you thank the employee for the time and effort they have put into the company and make sure they are leaving on good terms.

Evaluate the Interview

Carrying out the interview is just the first step, the next step is to analyse all of the information you have received. What recommendations have you received from the employee? What company changes need to be made?

For more on how to improve employee experience please contact us.


No comments added yet. Be the first one!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.