Top Questions You Can Expect During an Exit Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 9 August 2022 | Published 20 May 2021

Updated 9 August 2022

Published 20 May 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

During an exit interview, an employer may be interested to know what aspects of your job or project you enjoyed the most. They can also set up this interview to gain feedback from you to help them improve aspects of the organisation to better retain employees and reduce turnover. You can get invited for an exit interview after you quit a job, leave an institution or dissolve your membership in an association. In this article, we'll discuss some questions you can expect to be asked during an exit interview.

What is an exit interview?

An exit interview is a formal wrap-up meeting between an employee, student or member who's leaving a company and representatives of the company's management. It's common for government, education and other institutions to invite people for an exit interview to learn about their reasons for leaving. Its purpose is to provide employers with useful information that can guide their future operations to improve employee relations.

Companies can perform an exit interview in several ways, including a written survey, a face-to-face interview, a phone meeting or an online questionnaire. It is common for HR personnel to conduct exit interviews. However, sometimes your direct manager might conduct an informal meeting with you, for example, a goodbye lunch, to find out why you are leaving the company.

Related: Exit interview templates: definition, examples and design

The importance of an exit interview

Here are the top reasons for attending an exit interview:

Exit on good terms

Attending an exit interview can be good for you as it helps you exit the company on good terms. This can prove essential if your current employer performs a background check by contacting your previous employer. Your last impression during your exit interview could determine the feedback your previous employer gives to your potential employer.

Related: Everything You Need to Do for a Successful Last Day at Work

Requesting a recommendation letter

You may require a recommendation letter for the position you are applying for. If you left the organisation on good terms, your previous employer may be glad to write a letter of recommendation for you.

In case you need rehiring

You may find an advertisement for a job at your old company that you're interested in. Having left a good impression will increase your chances of being hired back. Therefore, it's good to provide useful information in your exit interview that can help them improve the productivity of the organisation. You can also take the opportunity of an exit interview to reinstate the fact that you would love to rejoin the organisation in the future.

Related: A guide to the offboarding process (including checklist)

What questions to expect in an exit interview

Here are the top questions you can expect during an exit interview:

What made you decide to leave, or why are you leaving your current position?

You may face this question if you quit the job abruptly or voluntarily. The reason they ask this question is to know whether there was a single incident that triggered your departure. If it is something they can handle, they may try to help you sort it out. Another reason is to know whether your position has certain shortcomings that they need to resolve before hiring your replacement. In your response, be sure to give honest feedback that could help them improve their employee retention capabilities.

Example answer: "I had applied for a management position with a different company and after a series of interview, 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."

Related: Quitting a job after a month for another job (with tips)

Do you think we equipped you properly to handle your job?

Employers may ask this question to determine if you felt competent enough during your stay with them. You can state your reasons for leaving, but don't lash out at their failures. You can communicate cordially about any issues such as lack of training, resources or unhelpful technology that you needed to improve your performance.

Example 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."

Related: Employee transition plans: what they are and how to make one

Can you describe your relationship with your manager?

Your manager plays a huge role during your stay at the company. It is important to describe how you got along. This includes what they did well, the areas they could have done better and when they performed poorly.

Example 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."

Related: 13 last-minute interview tips to impress an employer

What was the biggest factor that made you accept your new job?

You may also face questions about your reasons for accepting your new job or applying to another organisation. The reason your employer asks this question is to know how they match up with other top organisations in their industry. It could be because of their higher pay that motivated you, meaning that the employer needs to evaluate their salary structure.

Example answer: "I've dreamt of being a manager since I completed my college education. This was an opportunity for me to grow and get where I want to be in five years."

What did you love about your job?

An exit interview will give you a chance to highlight the positives of your job. This can include the aspects you loved and your reasons. You could talk about your team, your specific duties, the perks of the job and weekend happy hours. The company can use such attributes when advertising your position or continue expanding on them to strengthen the company's employee relations.

Related: How To Make Small Talk (With 6 Steps and Examples)

What did you dislike most about your job?

This question allows you to share the aspects of your job that you felt needed improvement. While they may not be the primary reasons behind your departure, they may affect the organisation's productivity. It's important to mention that you are simply advising and your recommendations are mainly for the benefit of the organisation. You can answer this professionally to avoid misunderstandings.

Would you recommend this company to others seeking employment?

Your employers may want to know whether there are things they should work on to help them attract and retain top talents in the industry. Be straightforward as you give your answer and offer thoughtful feedback on why you would or would not recommend the company. You can offer mention specific things that make the job attractive.

What do you think are the skills and qualifications that your replacement needs to have?

You are the person who knows best how to do your job and do it perfectly. Your employer might want your help in figuring out the attributes they should look out for when hiring your replacement. You can talk about the skills they needed when hiring you but which you rarely needed on the job or the skills they never mentioned but you needed to get the work done perfectly. This could help the company write a more accurate job description and hire someone fully capable of handling the job.

Would you consider staying on?

This question can help you and your employer figure out whether there are offerings that can make you rescind your decision to quit. Probably the provision of more training, benefits, a salary increase or even a promotion could be an excellent motivation for you not to leave the company. Be honest in mentioning such factors and also remain professional as you turn them down if nothing can convince you to stay.

The do's and don'ts of an exit interview

Consider the following suggestions for a successful exit interview:

Remain professional

You should maintain the same behaviour you would in a normal interview when you meet with your employer for the last time. Try to be as positive as you can, even if you were not fond of your colleagues or manager. Offer compliments when you can too.

Offer positive critique

Even if you are encouraged to voice a critique, it is appropriate to word it positively to avoid coming negatively. Avoid complaints about your assignments, colleagues or supervisors, especially when you might use hurtful words. You can plan a casual meeting with a non-office friend to vent to them if you feel the need.

Share helpful and specific information.

Mention factual details and share them in a manner that is beneficial to your employer. Avoid getting your feelings involved and instead focus on being a problem-solver. Avoid petty information as well, or mentioning things that are useless to your employer, even if they precipitated your departure.

Plan your speech in advance.

Planning what you will say ensures that you don't mention things that will leave a poor impression. It also helps you avoid misspeaking or wording your responses poorly. You can rehearse your responses for the common exit interview questions above to ensure that they adequately prepare you.

Don't talk too much about your new job.

You are leaving the company for a reason, and there is no harm in mentioning some aspects of your new position. However, avoid going overboard by keeping your responses simple. For example, you can mention higher pay, but you do not have to give an exact figure for your new salary or the specific perks that come with the job.

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