Tips for running an effective exit interview

Taryn Heinrich

Exit interviews are a vital part of the offboarding process, yet, are often completely skipped over by employers. They are a golden opportunity to gain an understanding of why an employee is leaving your business and what needs further attention.

If you don’t have the correct processes in place, there is no benefit to holding an exit interview, and all you have done is made the final days of employment for an employee awkward and uncomfortable.

But if you get it right the benefits can be huge; including improving the effectiveness of future recruitment processes, increasing employee engagement and improving organisational procedures and performance.

My top tips for running an effective exit interview process are:

  • Where possible, always conduct face to face exit interviews. Getting an employee to complete a form without having a conversation will not provide you with any detail and will just be viewed as a “tick box exercise”
  • Ensure the right person is conducting the interview. If there is tension between the manager and employee, engage HR or another manager to have the conversation
  • Make sure the employee is relaxed and feels comfortable during the interview
  • Explain to them how the exit interview is going to work – that you will ask a series of questions allowing them to reflect upon their time with the organisation as well as provide candid feedback
  • Indicate that you will be taking notes and who you will be providing them to, and check that are they comfortable to continue under those conditions


The questions you ask should be designed to enable you to obtain feedback about the reasons they are leaving. Your questions should cover areas where the business is doing well, areas where things could be done better, workplace culture, leadership, training and remuneration.

Examples of these types of questions are:

  • What are your reasons for leaving?
  • What could have the business done differently to prevent you from leaving?
  • What did you find the most satisfying about working for this business?
  • What was the least satisfying?
  • How would you describe the culture?
  • Can you describe the adequacy of the training and coaching you received?
  • How would you rate your relationship with your manager?
  • Were you satisfied with the remuneration offered?
  • Would you recommend working at this business to other people?


Employers should be prepared that there will be some answers that, at times, will be tough to hear. Exit interviews are not a time to be defensive. You are relying on the employee to provide you with honest and candid feedback to help you make improvements to the business. Remember, you are asking for this!

It should be noted that exit interviews are a voluntary process and you can’t force employees to participate. All feedback should be treated confidentially and used to improve the employee experience of current and future employees. If you set them up correctly, employees should be happy to sit down and meet with you to discuss their experience and time in the business, thereby providing you with information you can use to improve or enhance your business and employee experience.

Inspire HQ can assist with your exit interviews, whether that be developing a template of questions or running the exit interview process for you. Having an external person run the interview can encourage employees to be more upfront and open up about their experiences to provide a more honest review of their time within the company.

If you would like to discuss more about exit interviews, contact Inspire HQ to set up your free Inspire HQ People Hour or for more information, visit our Human Resources page.

About The Author
Taryn Heinrich

Taryn’s passion is working with businesses and individuals to bring out their best. Taryn developed her HR generalist skills working on investigations, strategic planning, employment contracts, and developing and implementing HR policies and procedures.

Working closely with your business and employees, Taryn has a distinctive talent for setting people up with the tools they need to do their job safely and helping your business operate successfully. If you need help with anything HR related, Taryn is your go-to person!

On the weekend, you’ll find Taryn spending time with her family and friends – she’s always the first to arrive and the last to leave.

For more useful information, follow Taryn on LinkedIn.

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