Exit Interview: 5 Questions and Useful Tips

An exit interview should be seen as an opportunity for companies to change what they need to change. Today, we would like to take a closer look at this very current concept.
Exit Interview: 5 Questions and Useful Tips
Elena Sanz

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 18 October, 2023

The concept of the exit interview is quite a recent one. It was born out of a basic need on the part of companies to find out why their employees want to change jobs and seek opportunities elsewhere.

It is, therefore, a resource for taking action before an organization’s talent flees. Discovering why this happens is crucial.

We are all familiar with the concept of retaining talent. This refers to the measures that, when implemented, allow valuable employees to stay with the company. However, sometimes, even if certain precautions are taken, they still leave. So, the exit interview has become increasingly useful and valuable.

What is an exit interview?

An exit interview is conducted when an employee has asked to resign and leaves the position he or she held. If we want to know the reasons that may lead employees to leave, an exit interview is essential.

Who conducts the exit interview? As always, the human resources department.

Since this is a rather new practice, sometimes the relevant questions may not be asked. For this reason, we have made a compilation of those questions that may be relevant in a situation like this.

The exit interview must help the organization to know what needs to change. The changes will be so that workers, instead of leaving, want to stay.

exit interview after leaving a job
There are more and more reports of mass resignations or frequent job changes. Knowing what’s behind the phenomenon is good for companies that want to grow.

1. When you applied for this job, what attracted you to it?

This is one of the first mandatory questions in an exit interview. Understanding why a person wants to work for a particular company is vital.

Perhaps it was the working conditions (flexible working conditions, the possibility of working some days from home, etc.), the salary, and the proximity to where you live, among others. This will allow you to detect the strengths of the organization.

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2. Did the job you have fulfilled your expectations?

The second question that can be asked in an exit interview is whether the job you have done fulfilled the expectations you had when you started. That job flexibility may have been a claim that was not being offered as employees needed, for example.

Knowing this will allow you to take the necessary steps to make changes. Then, it will be necessary to change what isn’t working well.

3. Why did you decide to leave?

This third question is very direct and often uncomfortable. However, it’s very important to receive an honest and clear answer.

According to a study by Future Work Institute, the lack of growth possibilities within the company, the relationship with the boss, the salary, or the workload are some of the motivations that can lead employees to leave the company. Therefore, this must be taken into consideration.

4. What could the company have done to stop you from making that decision?

This fourth question in a job exit interview is closely linked to the previous one. According to the aforementioned study, some of the measures a company can take to prevent workers from leaving are as follows:

  • Improve promotion opportunities
  • Offer work-family conciliation
  • Provide greater transparency
  • Encourage learning

Salary is not always the main reason employees leave.

5. What did you like most and least about working at the company?

The fifth and final question in an exit interview should be precisely to learn about the company’s strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what a worker values and what needs to change in order to stay longer are key.

exit interview
Employment goes beyond good working conditions. Today, workers also value many other characteristics.

Like this article? You may also like to read: Difficulties at Your New Job? 5 Tips to Adapt

Tips for an exit interview

In addition to the above questions, it’s important to create a relaxed and calm atmosphere for an exit interview. Generally, this is a rather uncomfortable situation for employees, as not everyone likes to criticize the company they are leaving.

Therefore, it’s essential to make them understand that this helps them. After all, criticism can be constructive.

The handbook called Work organization and stress mentions important aspects that could be triggers for resignation. As it explains, it’s not only remuneration that matters in a position. Current times have shown this to be true.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Calle, W. C., Hidalgo, G. F. A., & Navarrete, W. P. (2020). Estudio de los criterios del estrés laboral utilizando Mapas Cognitivos. Investigación Operacional.
  • Mera Avendaño, I. A. (2022). La renuncia frente al acoso laboral ejecutado por el empleado y sus consecuencias jurídicas (Bachelor’s thesis, Riobamba: Universidad Nacional de Chimborazo).
  • Reyna García, V. H. (2018). Ulrich Beck y el malestar del trabajo. Sociológica (México)33(95), 93-124.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.