The Importance of Exit Interviews: What to Know and Example Questions

September 11, 2019

When it comes to keeping your company culture healthy and your business thriving, it’s all about your people. Because as great as your product or service might be that you’re offering, if you don’t have smart, capable and productive employees helping you do everything from selling, marketing, branding, employer branding, accounting, customer service, and everything in between, you’ve got nothing, actually. And there’s no situation when this is more obvious for most companies as when an employee is leaving – because when employees leave (especially if they’re really valuable ones but also even if they were bad) the whole team feels it. That’s why exit interviews are so critical.

96% of Fortune 500 companies conduct exit interviews, and you should, too.  Here are 5 reasons why conducting exit interviews are important, followed by some example questions to make certain you gather the information you need.

5 reasons exit interviews are important, with example exit interview questions for each

1. Turnover is a cause for concern.

Losing employees is expensive. According to Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report, it costs a company 33% of an employee’s salary to replace them. This cost takes considerable resources from a company in advertising, recruiting, on-boarding, and training new hires. Exit interviews can help understand the steps your company must take to decrease turnover.

Example questions:

“Give 3 examples of how this job met your expectations, and how it did not.”

“What types of tools and resources did you receive to do your job? Were they enough?”

“What would you say to the person we hire to fill your position?”

2. Exit interviews can uncover culture problems.

There are many reasons why people leave their jobs, and issues with the company’s culture is one of them. Toxic cultures where employees aren’t appreciated and recognized, shady ethical practices, weak cultures, and broken cultures are all prime environments that causes employees to trot off to greener pastures.

Example questions:

“Tell me three ways the company values matched yours, and 3 ways they didn’t.”

“Do you believe the company’s core values and mission statement are accurate representations of the day-to-to company behavior? Please explain.”

3. Employees may give insight into managers as they’re leaving.

Somebody really smart once said that great employees don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers. A superior who steals ideas, fails to lay out expectations and a path to success, is aloof, or lacks knowledge is not going to inspire loyalty in the team. Exit interviews are smart ways to pinpoint managers who aren’t performing up to the company standard.

Example questions:

“How did your manager recognize your successes? On a 1-10 scale, how valued and appreciated did you feel in your role?”

“How do you hope your new manager differs from the manager you had here?”

4. Candid feedback is helpful (but not always easy to come by).

As much as we would like it to happen, current staff don’t share completely honest feedback about their jobs, managers, and their feelings about company culture. They hold back because they feel their unpolished honesty may end up being held against them. Employees who are leaving don’t typically have this barrier.

Example questions: 

“What changes would make you consider coming back to our company?”

“How could we improve employee morale?”

5. You might be able to find out what your competitors are offering.

Internal inquiries are key parts of exit interviews, but it’s also smart to uncover just what other companies are using to woo your high performers away. Knowing this can help you create a game plan to stay competitive with them, so you can keep current employees AND successfully recruit and hire new ones.

Example questions:

“What is your new employer offering that you feel we don’t?”

“What was the main reason you accepted the other job?”

Losing a great employee is tough, but you can learn from it. Take the time to create a thorough exit interview and impress on the employee the importance of honest, forthright answers. Once you have them, review them carefully and use them to tighten up your processes, improve your culture, and build in benefits that will help make your company more competitive in the marketplace. Over time, hopefully these efforts will result in less turnover and greater productivity for you and your teams!

 

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Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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