Global HR 12 min

How to improve employee turnover using exit interviews

Written by Barbara Matthews
June 11, 2024
Barbara Matthews


share to linkedInshare to Twittershare to Facebook
Link copied
to clipboard

When an employee leaves your business, you have the opportunity to understand underlying issues affecting employee retention and satisfaction.

This is where exit interviews come in. They’re a great way to get valuable, actionable information that helps you attract and retain top talent.

In this article, we discuss the advantages of exit interviews, list key questions to ask, and offer tips on how to conduct one.

What is an exit interview?

An exit interview is the final interview an employer conducts with an outgoing employee to gain feedback on their experience and, ultimately, learn how the organization can improve. It's a major part of the offboarding process.

You can conduct exit interviews virtually, in person, or by issuing an exit interview form. It's important to interview the employee on neutral ground, so they can open up without feeling like they’re being interrogated. If done well, your organization can gain valuable feedback that helps improve its internal workflows and retention rates.

What are the advantages of conducting an exit interview at your company?

Exit interviews ultimately help you retain and attract top global talent. Here are a few advantages of exit interviews.

Benefits of exit interviews

Gain honest insights into the departing employee's experience

An exit interview informs you why the person is leaving. The employee is also likely to give you an honest review since there are no repercussions.

As you learn how your employees perceive your company’s workflow and culture, you can explore ways to reduce employee turnover.

Reveal structural or cultural issues

As you dig deeper to understand departing employees’ experiences, you may start to identify patterns that are causing them to leave. If multiple people mention similar issues, knowing what to fix becomes clearer.

Increase the likelihood of getting referrals from former employees

When you conduct an exit interview, you allow the leaving person to express themselves and feel heard.

Acknowledging their experiences shows that you care and appreciate their feedback and builds a positive employer brand. This makes it more likely that the person will refer other people to your company.

Identify areas for improvement

Essentially, offering your ex-employees an exit interview provides a learning opportunity for your organization. You gain feedback and suggestions on what to improve on, and it also shows your commitment to continuous improvement.

Exit interviews allow you to provide closure to former staff while leaving the door open for future opportunities like rehiring.

A graph showing why employees leave again

While it's possible that departing employees can come back, keeping them after they do requires effort. About 25% of employees who voluntarily left and returned are likelier to leave the employer again within three to six months.

With feedback from exit interviews, you can improve prove your business to reduce employee turnover.

Enhance recruitment and onboarding

Exit interviews can give you important information on your hiring process, highlighting what was effective and what needs improvement. Feedback from exit interviews can highlight issues in the recruitment process, such as inadequate training or unrealistic job expectations. 

This kind of feedback helps you improve your onboarding process for future hires.

Maintain a positive relationship with former employees

As an employee prepares to leave, one notable way you can show them support is through an exit interview. 

Exit interviews show that you care, and it also helps you ‌maintain a connection for future opportunities, such as referrals or rehiring.

9 exit interview questions to ask

Notify your departing employee in advance about the interview and the topics you’ll cover to give them time to prepare their answers.

Asking the right questions is key to getting as much out of each exit interview as possible. Here are some examples of questions you can ask during exit interviews, what insights you can glean, and the types of answers you might hear.

Examples of exit interview questions

1. Why did you decide to leave the company?

In asking this question, you get to learn the reasons behind your employee's decision to leave. You can also assess any previous feedback the employee might have given to identify any patterns that might have affected their decision. 

Here are some types of answers that you might expect:

Now that I've worked here for a while, I feel prepared to take on new opportunities and challenges. I've decided to leave the company and look for work in a different field that aligns better with my long-term interests and career goals.”

A graph showing why employees seek new jobs

2. What processes would have had to change for you to stay?

You can use the responses from this question to improve the employee's experience with your company. If the employee was unsatisfied with your business in any way, their suggestions can help you make the company better. 

Here are some possible answers:

A more inclusive workplace culture would have encouraged me to stay. I'd have felt happier if we had an environment of mutual respect and trust and dealt with interpersonal conflicts more proactively.”

I would have appreciated more flexibility in my work hours. That would have made my work-life balance better.”

3. How did you find the onboarding process?

With this question, you can use the departing employee's suggestions to change the company’s onboarding method if needed. 

Here are some possible responses from an exit interview on this question.

The onboarding process was great compared to other places I've worked before. Everyone on the hiring team was very helpful in getting me set up, and I had great support from my direct manager, as well.”

I think the process was okay, but the hiring team could've done a few things better. In my opinion, adding more practical training and mentorship could significantly enhance the quality of the onboarding process.”

4. How would you describe our corporate culture?

Having a great organizational culture goes a long way in enhancing workplace productivity. However, only 29% of employees believe that their company's executives look out for their best interests.

Leverage answers to company culture to pinpoint areas for improvement.

I'd say that the corporate culture is quite supportive and inclusive. Everyone on the team treats me with respect, and we've always collaborated well together. I do think, though, that the company should do more to promote diversity.”

The corporate culture here is more hierarchical and conventional. Though these management styles have their benefits, such as well-defined responsibilities, they also have the potential to stifle innovation.”

5. Have you voiced your criticisms in the past, and how was it handled?

Exit interviews can reveal ways to improve the company's feedback culture. Find out how the departing employee felt about giving feedback, including if they were comfortable doing so. 

Potential responses include the following.

Yes, I've voiced issues and criticisms before, and I felt that my colleagues respected my opinions. I'm grateful that my manager could address some of my grievances, and I valued the opportunity to engage in open and transparent communication.”

No, I have never made any complaints. Though there were areas I thought the company could improve on,‌ I was afraid of being labeled a complainer.”

6. How was your relationship with your supervisor or manager?

When asking this question, objectively evaluate the departing employee's feedback. Consider any personal encounters or biases that may have shaped their view of their manager or supervisor. 

You can expect answers like:

My relationship with my manager was very professional, and I feel they supported me in my career aspirations. But there were times when I thought communication could have been better, especially regarding performance feedback.”

My supervisor was always ready to offer assistance. They gave me advice and honest feedback that helped me improve at my job.”

7. Do you think the company supported your career goals?

You can use the employee’s answer to this question to evaluate current career development policies and practices for anything that needs improvement. 

Here are some possible responses.

Yes, I think the company helped me reach my career goals. I attended training and workshops that helped me learn new skills that were useful for my job.”

I think that the company could do a better job of helping its employees meet their career goals. Despite my interest in challenging projects and advancement, I received little support or guidance.”

8. What suggestions do you have that could help us improve our employee retention?

This question can help you determine where to focus your company's retention efforts. You can also ask follow-up questions to get a better sense of the employee’s perspective and reasoning. 

Expect answers such as:

"The company could provide better work-life balance options, like flexible schedules and paid time off policies, to improve employee productivity.”

The company could improve the onboarding process so that new hires feel supported and welcomed from the beginning.”

9. Would you recommend the company to a friend?

How willing the departing employee is to recommend your company indicates their overall satisfaction. If multiple employees say they would not refer your company, this can be a sign that you need to fix underlying problems within the organization.

Here are some possible answers:

Yes, I'd definitely refer a friend to this company. Overall, I've had a good time here, and I believe it's a wonderful place to work.”

Despite the company's generous compensation package, I'd suggest that my friends do their research to see if it's a good match for them.”

Best practices for conducting exit interviews

While offboarding may seem relatively straightforward, you can gain much more from exit interviews.

Let's take a look at a few best practices for exit interviews, so you can gain valuable information to improve your organization to reduce turnover.

Top best practices for conducting exit interviews

Organize a structured interview

Conduct the exit interview before or shortly after the employee's last day instead of months after their departure. Choose the right person, such as a hiring manager representative, to do the interview. 

Guide the conversation

Use open-ended questions for a more engaged session. Steer clear of leading questions that could skew the feedback that you collect. Additionally, focus on the specifics of the employee's experience and which processes need improving.

Use a template

Use a standard set of questions for each exit interview to quickly identify patterns in the feedback. You can devise a simple exit interview questions template to guide you through each interview. The template should include the employee's information and a set of exit interview questions.

A simple exit interview template

If you want a consistent offboarding process, Remote HR Management helps simplify the process for every employee. The platform helps you consolidate all your data in one place so you can simplify your offboarding process, including exit interviews.

Take notes

Take thorough notes during the exit interview to easily recall the key points afterward. This makes future strategy development easier.

Encourage transparency

Approach the exit interview as a casual conversation of empathy and understanding, knowing that the person leaving may have mixed feelings about their departure. Reassure them that their input is confidential and is meant to improve internal processes.

Streamline your offboarding process with Remote

Exit interviews are a great way to learn about employees’ experiences and find ways to make improvements.

If you want to improve your brand perception and attract top talent, try implementing effective exit interviews and acting on employee feedback.

Remote helps your offboarding process stay consistent, streamlined, and effective so that you can get the most out of it. With Remote HR Management, you can manage distributed teams from the onboarding to the offboarding stage.

Contact us to learn how Remote can help you today.

Start hiring with Remote, the new standard in global HR

Create an account with G2's top-ranked multi-country payroll software and start onboarding your first employees in minutes.

Get started now
Remote is the G2 top-ranked multi-country payroll software

Subscribe to receive the latest
Remote blog posts and updates in your inbox.