How to conduct an effective exit interview
Gain valuable insights from exiting employees to help you improve your processes and workplace.
Exit interviews with departing employees are an excellent way to capture the insights you need to continue making your company a great place to work.
Uncovering the right insights requires asking the right questions — and that may sound easier said than done. You may be wondering: How do I conduct an effective exit interview? Who should conduct the exit interview? Where do I begin?
Read on to discover exit interview best practices, compelling questions to ask departing employees, and a template you can follow to make the most of every exit interview.
Exit interview best practices
Following exit interview best practices can help you hone your process and uncover valuable employee experience insights.
Choose the right interviewer.
Before conducting an exit interview, select the appropriate interviewer. For example, the departing employee may not be comfortable communicating negative feedback to their immediate manager, so choose someone neutral who isn’t a part of that employee’s chain of command.
Set expectations and explain the process.
Let your departing employee know it’s safe for them to offer honest feedback, and explain how their feedback will be used to improve the organization.
Make it easy to take part in the interview.
Schedule the exit interview during their workday and as close to their departure notice time as possible, which is when they’ll be most inspired to share feedback. Be flexible in offering video call interview options for remote employees.
Have a clear plan before beginning.
Be sure to respect your departing employee’s time, since they’ll be busy with project reassignments and offboarding tasks. Ask a short set of questions focused on the employee’s reasons for leaving. Then, share exit interview insights with your team.
Explore exit interview questions.
The quality of your organization’s exit interviews depends on the quality of your questions. The best exit interview questions elicit insights that can inspire tangible improvements.
If you’re curious about what exit interview questions to ask, here are the suggestions from LinkedIn experts:
1. How would you assess the quality of your onboarding and job training?
Why ask this? When an employee departs an organization, it’s likely their role will need to be filled. Use the answer to this question to refine the onboarding process for future employees.
2. Were your expectations for the role met?
Why ask this? This feedback can help you rethink how you communicate requirements and expectations to the next person in that role.
3. What was your primary motivator for leaving?
Why ask this? This gives the departing employee the opportunity to candidly express the motivation for their departure.
4. Do you feel your skills were used effectively during your time at [company]?
Why ask this? This can help you shift role-specific workloads to give future employees more opportunities to apply their skills and grow.
5. How easy was it to get the resources you needed to succeed in your role?
Why ask this? Your departing employee’s response to this question can reveal productivity roadblocks.
6. Do you feel properly compensated for your work at [company]?
Why ask this? Understanding how your departing employee feels about their pay can help you realign that role’s salary in the future to encourage retention.
7. How fairly were you treated by your supervisor and the entire management team?
Why ask this? If the departing employee feels they weren’t treated fairly and can explain why, you can relay that feedback to your management team and make changes.
8. What kind of feedback did you receive from your supervisor and peers, and how frequently did you receive it?
Why ask this? The answer to this question can help your management team give highly actionable, more constructive feedback.
9. Do you feel your opinions and input were listened to and acted on throughout your time at [company]?
Why ask this? This can help you refine your company’s processes for feedback and implementation to improve morale and retention.
10. In a typical workweek, how often did you feel stressed at work?
Why ask this? Knowing this can help you reorganize the workload for that role as well as your organizational structure to prime the next candidate for success.
11. How safe did you feel during the workday at [company]?
Why ask this? Your departing employee’s response to this question is critical to helping your management team uncover and address any hidden safety issues at your company.
12. What would you like to see changed and/or improved upon at [company] in the future?
Why ask this? This question gives the departing employee a chance to offer constructive feedback on an aspect of your organization or their role that may have been the most significant motivator for pursuing new work elsewhere.
Offer exit surveys as an alternative to interviews.
The pros of exit surveys.
For some employees, exit surveys may be a more convenient alternative to exit interviews. Well-crafted employee exit surveys can replicate the exit interview experience, capturing insights from your departing employee without the interviewer and interviewee needing to meet face-to-face. Some employees may feel more comfortable with an exit survey, especially if they have opinions that are difficult to vocalize to management.
Things to keep in mind.
While an exit survey’s questions can also be tailored to candidates, in-person interviewers provide the unique opportunity to unpack and respond to what the interviewee says. There’s also no guarantee the departing employee will make time to respond to their exit survey, whereas making an exit interview part of the employee’s day can increase the likelihood they’ll attend. Exit surveys can also feel impersonal, which can make any negative feelings worse.
Resources to help you get started with your exit interview.
Ready to begin? Below you’ll find a list of quick-reference best practices and a checklist that can help you take action.
Exit interview best practices
• Be sure to offer your departing employee as many ways to participate in your exit interview as possible
• Come to your interview with an agenda of questions tailored to the data you’re looking to capture
• Listen and respond to what your departing employee says so you can reveal as many of their thoughts as possible on their role and your organization
• Establish a process early for sharing exit interview feedback and data
• Share exit interview feedback and data with the applicable stakeholders
Download an exit interview template.
Get your copy of our printable exit interview template, which includes the best practices and checklist above, as well as the exit interview questions from the previous section.
Download an exit survey template.
If offering an exit survey makes more sense for your business than an exit interview, take advantage of this downloadable employee exit survey template.
Exit interview checklist
Use this checklist to get the results you’re looking for while making the most of your and your departing employee’s time.
☐ Have you offered your departing employee several options for attending your exit interview, including remotely?
☐ For employees who either can’t attend or aren’t interested in an exit interview, have you provided the option for them to take an exit survey?
☐ Have you prepared all your questions ahead of time?
☐ Does your question list give the employee the opportunity to offer ways they believe your company can change and improve going forward?
☐ Do your questions give the employee the opportunity to explain their reason for leaving your company?
Learn how to interpret exit interview results.
Once you’ve conducted an exit interview, your next step is to interpret your exit interview results. Capturing these insights can help you make more informed decisions on everything from onboarding to employee retention.
If you’re unsure how to summarize your exit interview results, follow these steps to draw the most meaningful, actionable conclusions possible:
Clean up the data.
While this process may be time-consuming, it’s important to ensure that your data can be easily and quickly interpreted by others throughout your organization.
Look for trends.
If the employee states a reason for leaving that you’ve come across before, consider remedying the issue so it doesn’t further impact current and future employees’ well-being and your employer brand.
Observe and act on roadblocks.
If you’re not getting the exit interview results you want, there may be something preventing departing employees from engaging — like an unclear question or lack of access to remote interviews or surveys.
Share exit insights with stakeholders.
Insights aren’t helpful if you don’t share them with people who can take action. Establish an agreed-upon process for sharing exit interview insights early to maximize engagement and impact.
Refine your data collection process.
The quality of data you capture in your next exit interview can inform what questions you lean into and what you omit from future interviews.
“Establish an agreed-upon process for sharing exit interview insights early to maximize engagement and impact.”
Make “stay interviews” and “entry interviews” part of your management process.
Stay interviews involve gathering information from existing employees about what they like about their job and workplace, as well as what they think needs improving. Entry interviews help you understand what a new employee is looking for from their role.
Both types of interviews are designed to uncover insights that can help your management team improve employee retention by learning what resonates with employees and where there’s room for improvement.
Post a job on LinkedIn and start interviewing candidates.
Now that you have the tools and insights needed to conduct effective exit interviews, post your next open roles on LinkedIn to access our pool of over 900 million professionals and fill your talent pipeline with highly qualified candidates.
LinkedIn Talent Solutions brings both the right solutions and the right expertise to help you find, attract, and connect with the right people for your open roles.