What Is an Exit Interview? A Complete Guide

Exit interview
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It is unavoidable for employees to leave your company. While it takes time to attract new employees, a retiring employee is also an opportunity for your company to improve. That is why an exit interview is necessary. An exit interview provides an opportunity to obtain candid input on employee satisfaction. 

It can specifically assist you in gaining insight into your corporate culture. In addition to revealing any problems in your workplace, In this article, we discuss what an exit interview is, some exit interview questions and their answers, how to conduct an exit interview and the importance of an exit interview. 

What Exactly is an Exit Interview?

An employer will speak with a staff member face-to-face during an employee exit interview before they leave. The two-way interaction provides you with crucial information about the employee experience. In particular, the reasons for an employee’s decision to depart

The employer might gather exit interview data from the responses. This data should indicate any flaws in the workplace that can help a company improve. It could be anything from issues with your company’s culture to a lack of work-life balance.

How Should a Successful Exit Interview Be Conducted?

Let’s discuss how to conduct exit interviews as effectively as possible. Along with some sample questions for an exit interview, the following are some important best practices that you should have in mind.

#1. Each Retiring Employee Is Given an Interview

Every employee that departs from your business should have an exit interview. Some practitioners will advise you not to worry about “trouble-makers” and to limit the number of interviews to your top performers—those you truly want to maintain. Designating some exit interviews as useful just for specific areas of the company sends a very bad message. It sends a message to the rest of the organisation that certain people’s opinions are not valuable. 

#2. Be Prompt

On the final day of the leaver’s employment, after the offboarding procedure, or in the days right after their departure are the ideal times to conduct an exit interview. They won’t be able to express their opinions as freely before this.

Having a few days of “mental distance” from the job is very beneficial. It provides the departing employee with a somewhat elevated perspective, enabling them to evaluate their experiences more analytically rather than subjectively.

#3. Retain Transparency

Always let them know ahead of time about the subjects you want to cover. Before the meeting, prepare a list of the topics or questions you would like to discuss and send it to the departing employee via email. This helps them feel more at ease and increases the likelihood that they will return with some well-considered, well-developed exit interview answers.

#4. Be Informal

Making exit interviews as informal as possible pays off. Make an effort to make sure they take place somewhere more casual, like a nearby cafe, and, if at all feasible, in person rather than in the office. This supports the notion that this is not some sort of disciplinary discussion but rather a friendly, two-way exchange between former coworkers.

#5. Retain It Intimate

You just need one interviewer at a time. To avoid giving the impression that the organisation is pulling together against them, try to let the departing employee choose the person who will conduct the interview. If the two get along well, you’ll obtain considerably more honest feedback and insightful information.

#6. Talk Less and Listen More

It is not your responsibility as the interviewer to reply to criticism; it is not the purpose of this exercise. Your goal is to gain as much knowledge as you can about your organisation, not to defend the enterprise or validate your personal choices. This could be a very difficult experience, especially for founders. Rest assured, though, that you can improve your business by acting upon even the most negative feedback.

#7. Lead the Conversation But With Caution

You may be tempted, as the interviewer, to steer the conversation towards the subjects you would like to discuss. This is particularly true for entrepreneurs, who frequently have strong opinions about how the company should be operated and feel deeply about the venture they have created. You should steer the conversation towards subjects you believe would be pertinent, but ultimately, you want to hear what the departing employee has to say, so let them carry the interview in any direction they see fit.

#8. Discuss the Outcomes

Make sure that the notes from the exit interviews are distributed not only to the departing employee’s immediate team but also to the entire corporate leadership. This makes it easier to make sure that business executives are aware of how each department in the organisation is operating and can consider any helpful criticism.

#9. Give Them Action

This has all been the easy part up until now. It’s time for you to put everything you’ve learned into practice and follow through. If you’ve conducted the exit interview correctly, you probably heard a few unsettling stories, such as reports of underperforming team members or unsupportive superiors. 

The Importance of Exit Interviews

The following are the most compelling reasons to attend a departure interview:

  • Exit under good terms

Attending an exit interview might be beneficial because it allows you to leave the firm on good terms. This can be useful if your current employer conducts a background check that includes contacting your previous employer. 

  • Requesting a letter of recommendation

A recommendation letter may be required for the position you are applying for. If you left the company on good terms, your former boss may be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you.

  • In case you need to rehire

You might come upon an advertisement for a job at your previous employer that you’re interested in. Making a strong first impression will boost your chances of being recruited again. As a result, it’s a good idea to share relevant information in your exit interview that can help them increase the organization’s efficiency. You can also use an exit interview to reiterate that you would like to return to the organisation in the future.

What Questions to Expect in an Exit Interview and Their Answers

The following are the most common exit interview questions and their answers:

#1. What Prompted You to Resign, or Why Are You Leaving Your Current Position?

You may be asked this question if you leave your work unexpectedly or voluntarily. They ask this inquiry to determine whether there was a single incident that precipitated your leave. If it is something they can handle, they may try to assist you in resolving it. Another reason is that they want to know if your job has any flaws that they need to address before hiring your replacement. Make sure to include honest feedback that can help them enhance their staff retention capabilities in your response.

Answer: “I had applied for a management position with a different company and after a series of interviews, I’ve been fortunate to get the position. However, I have to begin this month, so I’ve got to quit early and move as the organisation is far from here.”

#2. Do You Believe We Adequately Prepared You for Your Job?

Employers may ask this question to discover whether or not you feel competent throughout your time with them. You can explain why you’re going but don’t point fingers at their mistakes. You can speak openly about any challenges that you need to overcome to improve your performance, such as a lack of training, resources, or ineffective technology.

Answer: “The resources, such as internet access and mechanical tools, in this organisation are inadequate, and we had to borrow between departments to perform our duties. This was frustrating, and we had to wait for others to finish up before we could start our duties.”

#3. Can You Explain Your Working Relationship With Your Boss?

During your time at the organisation, your manager will play an important role. It is critical to explain how you got along. This includes what they did well, what they could have done better, and when they failed.

Answer: “I felt that the manager and I remained on good terms throughout our period of working together. We had no conflicts, and I always performed my duties well.”

Do’s and Don’ts in an Exit Interview

Consider the following tips for conducting an effective exit interview:

  • Maintain Your Professionalism

When you meet with your employer for the final time, you should act the same way you would in a normal interview. Even if you dislike your coworkers or management, try to be as upbeat as possible. When possible, offer compliments as well.

  • Provide Constructive Criticism

Even if you are encouraged to make a criticism, it is best to phrase it favourably to prevent it from coming out negatively. Avoid making complaints about your duties, colleagues, or bosses, especially if you may use harmful language. If you need to vent, you can arrange for a casual encounter with a non-office friend.

  • Share Relevant and Useful Information

Mention accurate information and present it in a way that benefits your employer. Avoid involving your emotions and instead focus on being a problem solver. Avoid mentioning items that are irrelevant to your company, even if they are the reason for your departure.

  • Prepare Your Speech Ahead of Time

Planning what you will say ensures that you do not say something that will make a negative impression. It also helps you avoid misspeaking or badly wording your comments. You can practise your answers to the usual exit interview questions listed above to ensure they effectively prepare you.

  • Don’t Go On and on About Your New Work

You are leaving the organisation for a purpose, and it is not inappropriate to discuss some details of your new employment. Keep your comments simple to prevent going overboard. You can, for example, mention increased income, but you are not required to include a precise figure for your new salary or the specific amenities that come with the job.

How to Communicate Exit Interview Results to the Business

Any departure interview input should be put to good use and shared with the rest of the company. Remember that feedback should always be given anonymously or in aggregate form, and the employee should be informed of this before the leave interview.

#1. Sharing With Human Resources

Exit interview data should be provided to HR in its entirety because HR should observe trends and identify areas of concern that need to be escalated. With access to all information, HR can develop an orderly and visually appealing representation of the feedback that authorised people can access at any time.

#2. Collaboration With Management

The management team will need to know about certain areas of the interview comments. Employers should avoid publically addressing any input about another member of the management team; instead, this should be done discreetly. Any issues raised with the rest of the management team should be addressed jointly to solve any cultural, structural, or procedural issues.

#3. Collaborating With Persons

If specific people are addressed in the exit interview, it may be appropriate to share feedback with them. Any input about a single individual can be communicated on a 1:1 basis in a private setting rather than in a group setting. Feedback should be constructive while also allowing the employee to express their point of view. Employers should use caution and may believe it is unnecessary to share feedback with the individual in question.

#4. Sharing With the Rest of the Company

Companies should provide regular updates to their employees on how to improve based on feedback. This could be done quarterly via email or at a quarterly meeting. This update should not go into specifics about where the comments came from or refer to any specific incidents. Instead, it should state that the organisation is always collecting feedback for improvement through surveys, exit interviews, meetings, and 1:1s. This will demonstrate to employees that you are proactive in taking comments seriously. 

Are Exit Interviews Mandated by UK Law?

No, exit interviews are not a legal requirement under UK employment law; however, you must provide exit interview training to your senior staff and managers.

Can I Refuse an Exit Interview in the United Kingdom?

Because an exit interview is a voluntary decision on both sides, you don’t have to participate if you just want to move on. Even if you want an exit interview, because it’s not a legal requirement, your employer may be reluctant to arrange it.

In My Exit Interview, How Open Should I Be?

Exit interviews are an opportunity to provide honest feedback, but not anything unprofessional or inappropriate; you can provide negative feedback if done clearly and respectfully; and these interviews are not the time to unload your anger and pent-up feelings.

What Causes Exit Interviews to Fail?

Exit interview programmes fail far too often for two reasons: first, the data they generate can be skewed and untrustworthy, and second, there is little agreement on best practises.

Why Are Exit Interviews Kept Private?

Exit interviews should be kept strictly confidential; just because an employee is leaving doesn’t mean that the answers to their exit interview questions can be freely shared amongst their ex-colleagues. If the person leaving the company has taken the time to air any grievances or issues in their interview, this may leave hurt feelings behind.


As much as possible, treat the leaver with respect and gratitude for the work they have done with you, and maintain good relations with them because they will go on to work at many other places with many other people, and you want them to leave your company as an advocate and ambassador for you and the way you work.

There is a natural tendency to be defensive about exit interviews; after all, someone you hired has decided to leave and is about to tell you every single reason why. Yes, staff exits mean that your company is changing, but that is a good thing as long as you have control over the direction of travel.


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