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  1. Blog
  2. Interviewing
  3. May 4, 2022

9 of the Best Exit Interview Questions & How to Nail Them

Plus, how to deliver negative feedback in a professional manner

Woman before an exit interview
Photo courtesy of Christina @ wocintechchat.com

Many employers conduct exit interviews to gain feedback and learn why an employee is leaving their position. Sometimes, the exit interviews end up being more nerve-wracking than the preliminary interviews before receiving a job offer—employees want to be honest, but worry about saying the wrong thing, burning bridges, or completely bashing their boss and company’s culture. 

But interview and career coach Tazeen Raza says exit interviews are important for both the company, as well as the individual leaving, because it’s the chance for the company to learn about the employee’s genuine experience—whether positive or negative.

“The [exit interview] will help make the experience better for future employees. As an employee, this is a chance to talk about things you may not have been comfortable sharing earlier. On the other side of things, the employer gets an honest account of what it is like working for them,” she says.

Let’s review nine of the best exit interview questions for employers to ask and how employees can craft thoughtful answers.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know Before Quitting Without a Job Lined Up

9 of the best exit interview questions and answers

1. What is your reason for leaving this position?

This is one of the most common exit interview questions. Employers ask this question to suss out if you’re leaving for a better opportunity, personal reasons, or something else. Here, it’s important to strike a balance between honesty and politeness. Try to mention the skills or experience you’re hoping to gain from your next job to give your employer clarity on what they could do differently. But keep in mind, if you’re quitting without another job lined up or you’re more private, you don’t have to give a specific reason; something like “my wants and needs at work have changed” will suffice. 

Good answers:

  • “I’m so grateful for my experience here, but I found another opportunity that better suits my career goals and allows for more growth opportunities. I’ll be taking on a leadership position at my next company, and due to our internal promotion process, I knew that wouldn’t be feasible for me here.”

  • “I’ve really enjoyed working here and have made life-long friends, but I feel like it’s time for me to go in a different direction where I can better hone my skills. I’ve gained invaluable experience for the future, and now I’m looking for a company that’s going to invest in my professional development and offer on-site skills courses.”

2. Do you feel you received appropriate and comprehensive onboarding and training?

Employers, if you want to understand how to better retain the employee who fills this position next, ask this question. Employees can discuss changes they’d make to the employee orientation, if there’s anything they wish they’d known before or during their employment, and if they’re satisfied with the amount and type of on-the-job training they received. 

Good answers:

  • “Going forward, I would say to make sure that new employees fully understand their roles and have access to the tools they need to perform their job well. I didn’t always feel as though I had the resources to do my job well, so I think new employees would benefit from more thorough and frequent training.”

  • “Overall, the onboarding process was extremely helpful and comprehensive. However, after the initial onboarding, I felt like the prioritization of my training suffered, and I often struggled to keep up with our ever changing technology.”

3. What did you enjoy the most at the company?

Talk about the positives of working for the company. Who had the most profound impact on your career? Did your manager go out of their way to help you on projects? Did you enjoy the team bonding activities? Were there any particularly helpful benefits? Did you learn a new skill on the job through training?

Good answers:

  • “I felt a real sense of camaraderie here. I loved the employee relations and special programs, and I could really tell that each employee was valued. My manager especially made me feel respected, and they often went above and beyond to ensure I felt a sense of belonging at the company.”

  • “I really appreciated the holistic approach to benefits. The generous remote work policy and child care discount helped me in immeasurable ways. Plus, I enjoyed getting looped into a variety of projects across teams—I learned a lot about the strategic aspects of marketing and will be able to use those skills wherever I go.”

4. Has the company supported your career goals?

Striving for career milestones like a raise or promotion has always been an effective way for employees to stay engaged in their work. For employers, it’s important to gauge how well you’ve supported your employees’ goals and understand where there are gaps to better retain and support your next hires. 

Good answers:

  • “When I first started here, I was very excited for the opportunities to increase my knowledge and gain more experience. While the company has given me a decent amount of opportunities to learn new things, I believe I’ve learned all that I can in this role, and it’s the right time for me to expand my skills at another company.”

  • “Overall, I felt that my career goals were supported most of the time, but I realized there were larger, more pressing priorities for the business than my own career goals since this is an early-stage startup. I wasn’t able to spend as much 1:1 time with my manager discussing goals as I would’ve liked.”

Read more: Ask a Recruiter: How Can Leaders & Managers Build Cultures of Trust?

5. In what areas can the company improve in?

Raza says, “This is your opportunity to talk about things that need changing. Be sure to be objective but still describe the problem and your potential solution for it.”

Good answers:

  • “As a working parent, two weeks of time off and no remote options just wasn’t enough for me. To cater to more working parents, I’d consider adding more PTO to your benefits package or allowing for more remote or hybrid work options to reduce stress and burnout.”

  • “The work environment could be improved to be more inclusive and welcoming. I felt like the senior leaders weren’t interested in hearing feedback from other team members, and I never felt comfortable sharing my ideas if they went against the status quo. It would be beneficial to encourage more employees to share their unique point of view and explore training options for managers.”

Read more: 20+ Pandemic Moms on Ways Companies Have Made Working & Parenting Possible

6. Do you feel that the company’s culture reflects the core values? 

This gives the employee the chance to talk about whether they feel that the company has lived up to their core values and whether their employer has held themselves accountable. 

Good answers:

  • “In the beginning, I felt like the core values were more performative, but I think the company’s culture is beginning to change for the better now that management is seeing the value of employee feedback and input. It feels much more collaborative and supportive now compared to when I started.”

  • “I definitely feel like the company’s culture reflects the core values of accountability, integrity, and remaining customer-centric. Everyone I worked with at the company was extremely dependent and followed through on promises. At the end of the day, the culture allowed all of us to produce the best work possible for our customers.”

Read more: Ask a Recruiter: How Do I Know if a Company Is Living Out Its Values?

7. How was your relationship with your direct manager? What feedback do you have for them?

Asking your employee about management is critical to prevent losing future talent. Raza says, “Don’t talk about things the person can’t change. Additionally, don’t burn bridges by bad-mouthing anyone. Instead, you can talk about how people are different, how their working style didn’t mesh with yours, and why. Talk about what they could do to make it better for you or someone new coming into the role.”

Good answers:

  • “Overall, I was satisfied with the way my manager guided me in my job, but there was room for improvement. I often felt overlooked, so my job began to feel stagnant. For their next direct report, I would suggest that my manager offer for them to join more projects.”

  • “We didn’t always see eye-to-eye because their working style felt like micromanagement to me, but we managed to successfully work together. Looking back, I wish my manager had helped me prioritize which tasks were most important instead of pressuring me to meet multiple deadlines all at once.”

8. Would you recommend this company to other people?

We know how important employee reviews are for a company’s brand perception and ability to attract quality talent. Explain why you would or wouldn’t recommend the company to someone else. If you wouldn’t recommend it, consider offering suggestions that could make the company more attractive to job seekers.

Good answers:

  • “It would depend on which position was open and what the person’s career goals were. I would recommend the company to a friend or family member if the position matched what they were looking for, but a more comprehensive benefits package would make the job more appealing.”

  • “I believe this job was a great stepping stone in my career, and I would definitely recommend it to other people looking for a company where they can grow and make an impact.”

9. Would you consider staying on?

Employers sometimes ask this question to see if any additional benefits, training, or raises might persuade you to stay. Be honest about whether you would truly want to stay and be specific about what factors would affect your decision.

Good answers:

  • “I’ve enjoyed working here for many years, and if I received a more competitive salary consistent with other jobs on the market, I would strongly consider staying.”

  • “Although I’ve loved this job, I feel like I need a fresh start given everything that has happened in my personal life this past year. I’m so grateful for the experience, but at this point, I just need to make a new move.”

What if you mostly have negative feedback?

If you’re leaving a toxic workplace, you might struggle to find positive things to say on the way out. Even if you have mostly negative feedback, it’s possible to deliver feedback and suggestions without coming across as rude or ungrateful. It’s important to remain tactful and professional. Words really do matter here.

As long as you communicate your grievances professionally and honestly, free from obvious resentment or bitterness, your employer will be grateful for your insight. For example, “If your boss was terrible, it's not a good idea to say it that way. You can say, ‘My boss and I had different working styles and often had different approaches to doing the tasks at hand. This created discord for the team on how best to proceed. I just didn't want to create a negative environment and found another role [that] was more aligned with my way of doing things,’” says Raza.

Keep in mind that exit interviews aren't meant to be employee therapy sessions—they’re intended to gather an assessment in order to improve a company’s culture and retention strategies. 

Read more: The Emotional Baggage You Carry from Job to Job & What to Do About It

About our source

Tazeen Raza is an interview and career coach with several years of professional human resources experience. Raza has worked in recruiting, talent management, and college recruiting, developing her passion for helping individuals realize their strengths and weaknesses before landing their dream jobs. Learn more about her services at tazeenraza.com.

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Photo of Cara Hutto

Cara Hutto

Assistant Editor

Cara Hutto is the assistant editor at InHerSight. Her writing primarily focuses on workplace rights, job searching, diversity, and allyship, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in media and journalism from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

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