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The Ultimate Guide On Employee Exit Interviews in 2024

13 min read   |  
Last Updated on
exit-interview

In this competitive workplace landscape, losing out on employees has become a costly affair. However, that can be minimized with the right approach and critical insights. And that is only possible with the right employee exit interviews.

These interviews are a powerful approach to uncovering hidden insights into why employees leave an organization. To unlock the transformative power of these interviews, all you have to do is stick with us throughout the guide and dive deep into the secrets they nurture.

Key Takeaways

  1. Meaning of exit interviews and why are they conducted
  2. How to conduct exit interviews
  3. Importance of conducting exit interviews
  4. Benefits of conducting exit interviews for the employers and employees
  5. What are the dos and don’ts of exit interviews
  6. Comparison between virtual and in-person exit interviews
  7. What are the tips for employees preparing for exit interviews

What is an Exit Interview?

An exit interview is a process undertaken at the end of an employee’s tenure at the company. It is more like a formal discussion between an employer and the departing employee.

The conversation allows the employees to deliver feedback on their experiences, shed light on the reasons behind leaving, and offer suggestions for organizational improvements.

The employees' insights allow employers to learn about the issues inflicting the company.

They can take actionable steps to reduce attrition and bring about positive changes by enhancing a company culture that allows employees to thrive and blossom.

Why are Exit Interviews Conducted?

Exit interviews play a crucial role in employees' departure process. They serve well-defined purposes and provide valuable insights that contribute to a better understanding of the reasons behind their departure.

Let us explore why do we need to conduct these interviews.


According to Human Capital Hub, 96% of Fortune 500 companies conduct exit interviews for good reasons.

  1. To gather honest feedback on their experiences from the employees who are leaving.

  2. To identify the reasons from the insights and address them accordingly.

  3. To understand the knowledge and suggestions they offer.

  4. To analyze trends in employee departures to make informed HR decisions.

How to Conduct an Exit Interview?

How to conduct an Exit Interview

Now that you have understood the need for exit interviews, it is time to understand how to conduct them effectively.

Let us delve into a step-by-step process to uncover valuable insights and make the most of these conversations.

1. Choose The Right Interview Format

Exit interviews can be conducted in several formats, such as face-to-face, phone calls, virtual, and online surveys. You must choose a format that suits you best and your employees' preferences, where open communication is a priority.

While in-person interviews have a scope for in-depth discussions, online surveys ensure anonymity and encourage honest feedback. This is especially beneficial if you have a remote workforce.

2. Know What Questions To Ask

Prepare a set of open-ended and specific questions encompassing employees' experience, their reasons for leaving, feedback on the organization, and any suggestions they would like to offer. In a nutshell, you need to tailor questions that help you derive insights relevant to your company’s goals.

3. Know What Questions To Avoid

Avoid any type of question that might make the employees feel uncomfortable and defensive. It is better to stay away from personal questions.

Instead, opt for constructive questions that focus on improving the work environment.

4. Share The Feedback

The feedback garnered during exit interviews should be shared with the concerned department and decision-makers of the organization.

The information should be used to address issues causing employee turnover and subsequently drive positive changes to reduce the same.

5. Keep The Interview Short And Simple

You should respect the employees' time by keeping the interview as short as possible. A regular exit interview lasts for around 30 minutes, which makes it less time-consuming and burdensome.

6. Communicate the Value of Feedback to the Departing Employee

Ensure to communicate to your employees that their feedback is valuable and will be used further to ignite positive organizational changes.

Let them know that their input will not go in vain and be taken seriously to improve the workplace for future employees.

7. Use Survey Tools

You can make the best use of online survey tools to help you easily streamline the exit interview process.

Tools such as Survey Monkey, Google Forms, and other HR-dedicated software can help you create and distribute exit interview surveys efficiently and likewise collect and analyze data without any hassle.

Importance of Conducting an Exit Interview

Importance of Conducting an Exit Interview

The significance of exit interviews becomes clearer as businesses evolve. This section will explore the vital importance of how conducting these interviews helps you shape your company, understand the underlying intricacies, and help transform it into a better version.


According to a report by INCruiter, the demand for exit interview services has increased, with 45% of companies using it this year in comparison to 20% in 2020.

1. Feedback Collection

Exit interviews are a rich source of feedback gathered from departed employees. These interviews allow the employees to voice their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions regarding the tenure they served in the company.

This feedback is a reliable means that has the potential to shed light on the company’s strengths and weaknesses.

2. Understanding Turnover

Exit interviews are the best way to help organizations grasp the reasons behind employee turnover. The feedback gathered can be further analyzed to identify common patterns or issues haunting the organization and contributing to increased employee turnover.

The insight gathered through feedback can aid the company in making targeted improvements in different areas such as leadership, workplace culture, leadership, or compensation.

3. Risk Management

Exit interviews are more oriented toward risk management. It allows organizations to disclose any potential legal or compliance issues that might have gone unnoticed. Employees might highlight instances related to harassment, discrimination, or any unethical behavior.

To be precise, one secure way of eliminating legal risks is to address them openly.

4. Closure

These interviews suitably provide closure for both the organization and its employees. Employees get the opportunity to share their genuine thoughts as they move out of the company. As for the organization, it gets the chance to gather final feedback and likewise work to address and rectify issues.

Major Benefits of Conducting Exit Interviews

Exit interviews have more to them rather than only being a farewell ritual. These interviews are a potent tool to help you grow and improve your organization. Hence, these interviews are a storehouse of benefits. These benefits not only serve the employers, but employees benefit equally.

The goal of exit interviewing is to learn from the past so that you don’t repeat mistakes in the future.
– M Bergdahl

Let us explore the two categories of benefits in detail.

For Employers


Another study by HR Daily Advisor revealed that 60% of organizations that conduct exit interviews use the information to improve their company culture and work environment.

Enhanced Employee Retention Strategies

Exit interviews are a guiding hand to help employers identify turnover trends and understand the prime factors that are compelling employees to leave. The insight garnered from the interviews gives you an overall picture of how you must proceed with the targeted retention strategies and keep your valued employees intact in the organization.

Elevated Knowledge Transfer

These interviews encourage departing employees to share their expertise and institutional knowledge. Hence, you should take this opportunity for knowledge transfer and make the best use of it. This knowledge transfer makes filling in the roles easier and ensures a smooth transition without losing out on essential skills or information.

Enhanced Reputation Management

Actively seeking feedback and addressing concerns through them can help employers showcase their commitment to creating a positive work culture and employee well-being. This, in turn, will enhance your reputation as an employer of choice in the industry.

For Employees

Self Awareness and Personal Growth

Exit interviews allow employees to reflect on their selves and work on their personal growth. This will help them gain a sound understanding of their weaknesses and strengths, which is valuable for their future career endeavors and development.

Networking opportunities

Exit interviews allow employees to expand their professional network. It allows them to build relationships with their former employers and colleagues that could lead them to future job opportunities and collaborations.

Validation of Concerns

Employees generally face the dilemma of whether they should raise their issues and concerns during their tenure.

However, exit interviews offer a way out of this dilemma by providing employees with a safe and confidential platform to express their concerns. In doing so, they can receive validation for their experiences, ultimately empowering them.

11 Sample Exit Questions to Ask

Exit interviews can be so helpful for HR, but you have to ask the right questions in the right way, to get relevant information.
– Melissa Anzman

The success of exit interviews predominantly depends on the type of questions you choose to ask. To make the most out of the process, you ought to come up with relevant exit interview questions.

Here are some sample questions that can help you further fetch the relevant answers for your assessment.

  1. On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the fairness of the working conditions here?

  2. On a scale of 1-5, how enthusiastic were you about coming to work each day?

  3. On a scale of 1-5, how strongly did your company promote a healthy work-life balance?

  4. On a scale of 1-5, how adequate was the training and preparation you received for your core responsibilities?

  5. On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied were you with the diversity of tasks and projects in your role?

  6. On a scale of 1-5, how unified were the team members in pursuing shared goals and priorities?

  7. On a scale of 1-5, how motivating did you find the team environment?

  8. On a scale of 1-5, how approachable and accessible did you find the senior management?

  9. On a scale of 1-5, how transparent was the decision-making process at higher levels?

  10. On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the support you received from management in executing your tasks and responsibilities?

  11. On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the trustworthiness of the company's leadership?

Do’s and Don'ts of an Exit Interview for Employers

You can unlock the true potential of exit interviews only by understanding the do’s and don’ts of the process. You ought to know what makes or breaks the interview process.

The following section will guide you through the do’s and don’ts in the form of “best practices” and “what to avoid.”

Best Practices for Exit Interview

Best Practices for Exit Interview

1. Be Prepared

Before you start off with the interview process, it is always advisable to prepare yourself with the departing employee’s records. Review their history with the company, along with the performance reviews and previous feedback, if any.

This prior preparation will aid you in asking relevant questions and getting a proper understanding of their perspective.

2. Choose a Neutral Location

Location is significant in ensuring a smooth interview process. Conducting exit interviews in a private and neutral location allows employees to communicate openly without feeling judged or scrutinized. A dedicated meeting room or a quiet space can genuinely serve the purpose.

3. Listen Actively

It is necessary on your part to actively listen and pay attention to what the employees have to say. Empathize and understand their perception openly. Active listening shows that you value their input and are genuinely interested in their opinions.

4. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions are the best means to receive a piece of detailed information about anything. Similarly, asking such questions to your departing employees will allow them to open up and express their thoughts and experiences in detail.

A yes/no question will only give you a superficial response instead of a comprehensive one, which is only attainable through open-ended ones.

5. Stay Neutral and Non-Defensive

It is essential to maintain a neutral and non-defensive attitude throughout the interview. The primary purpose is to attain constructive feedback and not in any way defend or challenge your departing employee’s views.

6. Reassure Confidentiality

If you genuinely wish to gather honest feedback from your departing employees, you must assure them of the confidentiality you will maintain.

This assurance will make them comfortable enough to express their honest thoughts and opinions without getting barred by any hesitation.

7. Thank the Employee

A gesture of gratitude goes a long way for anyone. Similarly, you must also take a moment to express gratitude for your employees' contributions to the company and for sparing some time for the interview. This will make the employees leave on a positive note.

8. Document the Feedback

Ensure that the feedback you take from your departing employees is accurately recorded. Taking detailed notes will help you do so. These notes will be of much value for further analysis and addressing issues.

9. Follow-Up

After the interview, ensure to follow up with the departing employee and be thankful to them for the useful insights.

Mention to them how their feedback will be put to use for making improvements in the organization. This very act will showcase how well you are dedicated to making a positive change.

10. Stay Professional

It is necessary on your part to maintain a professional demeanor entirely. Treat the departing employees respectfully, even if the parting may not be friendly enough. Professionalism is the key to a smooth exit interview experience.

What to Avoid

What to Avoid

Statistics on the top reasons employees refuse to be a part of exit interview

1. Argument or Debate

Avoid any form of argument or debate with the departing employee. You simply need to gather feedback instead of counteracting them.

2. Don't Take Feedback Personally

Be mindful not to get personal since the feedback concerns the organization and not you. Do not take it personally, and try to get defensive in any way.

3. Don't Rush the Process

Although the interview needs to be short, you must avoid rushing it. Allow the employee sufficient time to voice their thoughts and concerns. Let them take the required time and gather honest feedback throughout the process.

4. Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep

Be vigilant about the promises you make during the interview. Do not make any promises or commitments that aren’t realistic or that cannot be fulfilled.

5. Don't Interrupt

You must resist the urge to interrupt the employees while they speak. Allow them to finish what they have to say before you respond.

6. Don't Use Feedback Against the Employee

Ensure that the collected feedback is used for a genuine cause of the organization and not against the departing employee in any possible manner.

7. Don't Dismiss Their Feelings

There is a higher possibility that you may disagree with the feedback your employees provide. However, do not in any way dismiss their feelings. Be respectful of their perspectives, appreciate and acknowledge them, and rather focus on finding solutions.


A survey by Workplace Insights found that 46% of employees who participated in an exit interview believed that their feedback would be taken seriously, while 33% were unsure, and 21% did not believe their feedback would be acted upon.

8. Don't Skip the Exit Interview

Make sure not to skip conducting exit interviews. Such interviews shed significant insights to help the company pull itself out of the clutches of employee retention issues and find a solution to mitigate them.

Moreover, skipping the interview will only disrespect the departing employees, as a result, tarnishing the organization's image.

Comparing Virtual vs. In-Person Exit Interviews

As discussed above, there are different modes of conducting interviews. The most common ones are in-person and virtual.

Both have their fair share of pros and cons. So, before you decide on a mode for conducting one, why don’t you explore both possibilities by drawing a comparison between them?

Let us delve deeper for a clear understanding.

Pros of Virtual Exit Interviews Cons of Virtual Exit Interviews
Accessible for remote employees. Lack of personal connection.
Cost-efficient. Higher potential for technical glitches or connectivity issues.
Easier to schedule a convenient time. Lack of immediate response or follow-up.
Ensures anonymity for candid feedback. Limited non-verbal cues.
Easier to record and store digitally. Potential for distractions.


Pros of In-Person Exit Interviews Cons of In-Person Exit Interviews
Scope for developing a personal connection. Less convenient for remote employees.
Possibility of follow-ups and real-time discussion. Travel expenses become expensive.
Easier interpretation of non-verbal cues. Challenging to coordinate schedules.
It eases rapport-building. Recordings are not possible.
Reduction of distractions. The level of honest responses is not guaranteed.

Tips for Employees Preparing for an Exit Interview

Tips for Employees Preparing for an Exit Interview

As departing employees, you must prepare yourself for the exit interview. You might have some doubts and queries lingering in your mind regarding the interview.

So, to put an end to it, the following section will help you cover aspects that will smoothen your understanding.

1. Reflect on Your Experience

Take a moment to reflect on the overall experience you have garnered with the company. Particularly, ponder over things that went in your favor and things that could have been better. This self-reflection will help you deliver meaningful and genuine feedback during the exit interview.

2. Be Honest, Yet Tactful

You know how honesty is crucial in exit interviews. However, you also need to be tactful in your approach. Make sure that you deliver your feedback more constructively and respectfully, and try to address issues rather than making personal attacks.

3. Keep it Professional

Always approach the exit interview with professionalism. Trying to maintain a positive attitude throughout without giving vent to your frustrations. Make the most of this opportunity to leave a final positive impression behind.

4. Focus on Constructive Criticism

Your constructive criticism should be such that when you point out an area of improvement or concern, make sure to specify instances and suggest possible solutions. This will help the company understand the meaningful changes they can make in the long run.

5. Highlight the Positives

There is no doubt that you need to address issues in your interview. However, you cannot deny that you have had a fair share of positive exposure as well, which also needs a mention.

Make sure to share your accomplishments, the skills you’ve developed, and the relationships that you have built throughout your tenure.

6. Be Prepared for Counter-Questions

Prepare for any follow-up questions you may receive from the interviewer to seek clarification on your feedback. Hence, stay composed and provide additional details when the need arises.

7. Avoid Burning Bridges

Irrespective of the challenges you may have encountered in your tenure, you ought to maintain a professional and respectful tone. It is always best to avoid burning bridges, for you may not know when you might have to encounter your former colleagues again in your later career phase.

8. Thank Your Interviewer

You should express your gratitude to the interviewer for sparing their time and providing you the opportunity to share your feedback. A simple expression of gratitude can go a long way.

Conclusion

By now, you must have attained a sound knowledge and understanding of conducting exit interviews. These interviews act as torchbearers who can navigate your journey to implement positive and growth-oriented organizational changes.

Effective exit interviews are conducted with a genuine desire to shape the company's and existing employees' future and careers.

This article is written by Riha Jaishi, a Content Writer at Vantage Circle. Apart from being an active and keen writer, she is generally found reading books and articles, feasting her eyes on food videos, and binging on her favorite shows and discussing them. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

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