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10 Exit Interview Questions with Sample Answers

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Exit interviews are designed to help employers understand why an employee is leaving.

Sometimes referred to as surveys, exit interviews are composed of questions designed to reduce employee turnover and enhance the work environment.

It’s a chance to share some of the positive and negative experiences you’ve had while working there.

Keep reading to find out more.

10 Common Exit Interview Questions

Are you prepping for an exit interview? Then, you’ve come to the right place. These 10 questions will help you understand what questions to expect and how to provide professional, honest answers.

The challenge for any interviewer conducting a successful exit interview is to ask the right questions.

After all, it’s basically a dialogue between an employer and a leaving employee moving on to a new job. So, it’s up to the interviewer to gather as much exit interview data as possible to see things from the employee’s perspective.

As an interviewee, it’s up to you to offer honest feedback about their general employee experience. As a departing employee, it’s your responsibility to be forthright and provide honest answers.

Yet, bear in mind that you’re under no obligation to participate in an exit interview. If you wish to decline, reach out to human resources and down the exit interview.

  • Question 1: Why Are You Leaving?
  • Question 2: How Did You Reach the Decision to Resign from This Job?
  • Question 3: What Did You Like and Dislike About Working Here?
  • Question 4: How Do You Feel About Management?
  • Question 5: What Does Your New Position Offer that We Don’t?
  • Question 6: How Do You Feel About the Company Culture?
  • Question 7: What Could We Have Done to Keep You From Leaving?
  • Question 8: Did We Give You What You Needed to Succeed?
  • Question 9: Would You Recommend the Company to Others?
  • Question 10: If You Could Change Anything Here, What Would It Be?

In addition to these common exit interview questions, you can expect to get a few more.

Some common questions will center around peer interview questions. Interviewers use these to assess your potential for success and technical abilities.

Stay interview questions are another way recruiters get feedback on the company’s approach to picking top talent. It also allows them to gauge how the organization helps retain them.

What Should I Say in an Exit Interview?

This section highlights what hiring managers are looking for from a candidate and what they want to avoid.

Take a look.

What Skills Are Exit Interviewers Looking for in a Candidate?

The whole point of having an exit interview is for employers to understand what factors are lacking in their company and how they can improve them.

So, consider the following traits when prepping for your answers.

  • Honesty: HR should know why you’re leaving and the causes that led up to that decision, so don’t be afraid to provide honest and open responses
  • Professionalism: provide constructive, useful feedback, even when bringing up the areas of the job that weren’t so great
  • Preparedness: practicing these questions several times before the interview shows that you’re organized. It also shows that you value the company and the exit process
  • Positivity: whatever the reason for your leaving the job, you must highlight the positive aspects of the job and the time you spent working there
  • Objectivity: stay on point and avoid targeting people by name. Keep your answers focused on the organization and workflow rather than on specific people.

What Traits Are Exit Interviewers Looking to Avoid in a Candidate?

You may have one foot out the door and ready to leave behind the company and everyone in it. Still, no one wants to deal with any of these negative traits.

  • Dismissive behavior: just because you’re moving on from the company doesn’t mean you get to belittle the impact it’s had on your personal and professional growth
  • Arrogance: being arrogant during the interview implies that you don’t respect the company and is considered unprofessional
  • Bad-Mouthing your soon-to-be-former manager and workmates: every workplace has its quibbles and quarrels. Yet, that doesn’t give you the right to criticize or find fault with other employees just because you’re leaving the company

Sample Exit Interview Questions and Answers

If you’re a hiring manager, these are the 10 most viable questions to ask the interviewee in an exit survey.

Check them out so you can have an idea of what to expect.

Why Are You Leaving?

Why This Question Is Asked

Interviewers ask this question to gather data on why you’re leaving. They want to know if it’s because of something that happened at work that they need to improve on? Or is it for a completely different reason that has nothing to do with the company?

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

It’s important to give an honest answer. At the same time, don’t give out too many specific details while remaining tactful.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

It’s easy to get carried away and list various points you dislike about the company. Just avoid rambling on too much about all the things you didn’t care for.

Example Answer

“I’ve worked here for several years where I had the chance to develop my skills, and I’m grateful for that. But, now I think it’s time I moved on to a leadership position that provides more growth opportunities.”

How Did You Reach the Decision to Resign from This Job?

Why This Question Is Asked

The main aim of this question is to see whether your decision to leave was impacted by something integral within the company.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Be as honest as you can without coming across as vindictive or spiteful.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t give a half-hearted answer just to avoid telling the truth. Employers have the right to know what’s going on in their company. So, even if it’s something distateful, find a diplomatic and polite way to describe what went on.

Example Answer

“This job has provided me with some great skills, but I originally wanted to stay here for three years and ended up staying for seven! So, now feels like it’s the right time for me to move on.”

What Did You Like and Dislike About Working Here?

Why This Question Is Asked

Employers sometimes forget what it felt like to be an employee themselves. So, it’s important they take this opportunity to see things from a different perspective. It’s a great way to boost morale and increase productivity.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Briefly list a couple of the things you didn’t like. Yet, try to focus more on the positive experiences you had while working there.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid being too vague. This is your chance to highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly, so make the most of it!

Example Answer

“I liked it when I was allowed to work directly with clients. I also like brainstorming to come up with solutions whenever we’re met with a hurdle.

As for the things I didn’t like, they were mostly minor issues. Yet, the thing I disliked the most was the lack of professionalism in certain areas of the workplace. Everyone does what they want, which slows down productivity.”

How Do You Feel About Management?

Why This Question Is Asked

Interviewers feel that you can give them an honest and impartial answer since you’re leaving.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Give an objective answer that can provide feedback while remaining positive. If your manager has any shortcomings, discuss them with HR. Remember to stay polite and to the point. There’s no need to be harsh or add malicious comments about them or their behavior.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

It goes without saying, but refrain from speaking badly about your manager.

Example Answer

“My manager and I had a good working relationship. Despite the limited resources, I think they did a great job supervising me and my co-workers.”

What Does Your New Position Offer that We Don’t?

Why This Question Is Asked

The truth is the only reason why hiring managers ask this question is to check out the competition.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

If the reason you’re leaving is better benefits, the option to work remotely, or a higher salary, then it’s okay to say so.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid going into specifics. Like, if the new job offers a higher paycheck, don’t slip up mid-conversation and mention how much the exact amount they’re offering.

Example Answer

“By taking this job, I feel there’s more room for me to broaden my talent and skills. This will help me gain more in-field experience and work at a higher rank than I do here at this company.”

How Do You Feel About the Company Culture?

Why This Question Is Asked

Employers work hard to implement a positive culture and overall work environment for their employees. Yet, sometimes, things get in the way of that, making it more difficult to achieve.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

If the work environment is toxic, try your best to give a professional-sounding answer.

First, mention some of the positive aspects, then talk about how there’s room for improvement.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t point your finger at anyone or mention names. You’ll only end up burning bridges, which can haunt you throughout your entire career.

Example Answer

“I’m glad that management has begun putting value on employee input and has provided them with means to communicate thoughts and ideas. This means that the work culture is on its way to being more positive.”

What Could We Have Done to Keep You From Leaving?

Why This Question Is Asked

Recruits try to slide in this exit interview question to get actionable feedback they can apply to remaining and future employees. The goal is to reduce employee turnover, improve the company’s retention strategy, and boost employee satisfaction.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

If you can provide valuable feedback, by all means, do so.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

It can be tempting to give a cynical reply to this question, but try to avoid that at all costs.

Example Answer

“I don’t think there’s anything the company could have done. I’m ready to move on to new challenges and start the next phase of my life.”

Did We Give You What You Needed to Succeed?

Why This Question Is Asked

Every company wants its employees to succeed. After all, employee success is a reflection of the company’s success. Yet, management doesn’t always notice the day-to-day happenings that can get in the way of success.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

If you were met with limitations, bring them up during the interview.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid placing too much blame on the company or management. Just lay out the problem and let HR address them as they see fit.

Example Answer

“I believe I had what I needed to succeed and develop. Yet, I do think future employees can benefit from additional hands-on training.”

Would You Recommend the Company to Others?

Why This Question Is Asked

Management wants to hear how you feel about the company in your own words. If you say, then that means they’re doing something right.

If you answer ‘no,’ they’ll want to know why and see if they can fix it.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

This is a great opportunity to mention good things about the company and leave on a high note. If you don’t recommend it, talk about one or two reasons why. Look at it as a way to provide your interviewer with some insight as to how they can improve the inner workings of the organization.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

It’s good to provide honest answers. Yet, avoid getting too deep or too specific.

Example Answer

“I’d recommend this company to anyone starting out and looking to gain relevant experience and competitive skills in their careers.”

If You Could Change Anything Here, What Would It Be?

Why This Question Is Asked

Employers use this question to help them get a sneak peek into what needs to be changed and improved in their company.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

This is your chance to benefit the organization by offering helpful suggestions.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid giving remarks that can be misconstrued or seen in a negative light. If you don’t have anything useful to add, it’s better quiet.

Example Answer

“I recommend that you look into improving health benefits. The time-off policy could also use a little tweaking or allow days when employees could work from home. This will enhance the life-work balance and reduce burnout.”

Other Common Interview Questions You Could Be Asked

In this section, you’ll find some general employee interview questions that can be used in almost any setting, including exit interviews.

These questions have proven their ability to stand the test of time. Truth be told, it’s why many hiring managers rely on them when conducting interviews and surveys.

Two Truths and a Lie 

Why This Question Is Asked

This question is an icebreaker meant to put a fun spin on the interview process as a whole. At the same time, it gives insight into an employee’s ability to communicate and follow directions.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Get creative with your answers and just have fun. The best way to throw people off is to make two mundane statements; one of which is the lie. Then, the third one, which is truthful, should be something so outlandish the interviewer will find it hard to believe.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Try not to keep your lie until the end. Also, avoid over-explaining the lie because that will just give it away.

Example Answer

“I go horseback riding every summer at my grandparent’s farm (truth), I have four brothers (lie), and I used to cut all my friends’ hair (truth).”

Do You Want to Tell Us Anything Else About You

Why This Question Is Asked

This may seem like an odd question to ask in an exit interview. Nevertheless, it’s a lighthearted way to get to know more about you.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

One way to answer this question is to talk about your hobbies or interests outside work. Give the interviewer a brief glimpse into the things you enjoy doing in your free time.

Just remember to keep it short and sweet.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Try not to be tempted to let the question go unanswered. Even worse, avoid bringing up politics, your weaknesses, or the fight you had the other day with your significant other.

Example Answer

“We discussed lots of my experience and skills. But I can share with you my love of painting. I also have experience working with nonprofits.”

Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

Why This Question Is Asked

If a recruiter feels they haven’t heard you speak all that much, they’ll slide in this question near the end of the interview. It gives you the chance to ask a couple of questions of your own.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Focus on asking thoughtful questions that center around your time working for the company. You can also ask about your final paycheck, reference letter, or severance package.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Stay away from ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. Jump on the opportunity to ask questions that can come in handy in your new workplace.

Example Answer

“What did I do well during my time here? And what could I have done better?”

Tell Me About a Time You Failed

Why This Question Is Asked

Another great opportunity interviewers take is to gauge how you react to negative situations. Your answer can reveal a lot about your character and your willingness to learn from your mistakes.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Recall a time when you made a mistake on the job and stepped up to claim responsibility. You can also talk about the steps you took to improve and how you managed to avoid similar mistakes after that.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Even if the incident wasn’t entirely your fault, try to mention the names of any workmates who were implicit. Simply say there were others with you and keep it at that.

Example Answer

“The first time I was project manager, I underestimated the deadline and said we could deliver the work in four weeks. Even though everyone on my team worked hard to meet that deadline, it just couldn’t be done.

We ended up delivering the project after six weeks. Needless to say, the client was sorely disappointed.

Since then, I’ve learned to allot more time than needed to get the job done. This way, I don’t put unnecessary pressure on my team and the client is pleased when we deliver the work earlier than anticipated.”

What Areas Need Improvement

Why This Question Is Asked

Employers are interested in seeing if you’re aware of which areas you need to improve. Also, they use this question to evaluate your willingness to learn and adapt.

What to Focus on When Answering This Question

Give an honest, specific answer that highlights your weak points. At the same time, be sure to follow through with how you’re working to improve these shortcomings and use them to become better at your job.

What to Avoid When Answering This Question

Keep your answer short and sweet. There’s no point in going into too much detail. It’s your last day on the job after all.

Example Answer

“One of my goals is to take on more of a leadership role. That’s why I’m working on improving my leadership skills.

This includes learning how to be an effective communicator so that I can provide my workmates with clear instructions. I’m also trying to be a better delegator when it comes to assigning tasks.”

Additional Tips for Exit Interviews

Going into any kind of interview can be tense and stressful. Yet, remind yourself that there’s nothing to be nervous about because you’re already leaving the company.

Use these tips and tricks below to help calm you down and put you at ease before going for your exit interview.

How Do You Prepare for an Exit Interview

Part of the interview etiquette is to research exit questions so that you can provide valuable information as to why you’re leaving. This can give employers insight into how they can boost employee retention and enhance the overall work culture in their organization.

Another thing that can help you prepare is deciding what you’ll wear to the interview the night before.

Also, arriving 10–15 minutes early may be a small thing. Yet, it speaks volumes about your character.

What Should You Wear to an Exit Interview

In an employee exit survey, you should wear something that’s both classic, at the same time, slightly casual. Pick out an outfit that looks professional and makes you feel confident enough to stay focused on the interview questions.

For female interviewees, this can be a pantsuit or a slim skirt and blouse. A blazer can also add a nice touch.

As for male employees, a simple suit works just fine. They can also do without the tie for a tad less formal look.

How Should You Introduce Yourself in an Exit Interview

You can start by stating your name and your former job title.

After that, you can say how leaving the company feels bittersweet. Then, state how you’re looking forward to helping out as much as you can through this exit survey.

What Questions Should You Ask at the End of an Exit Interview

Hiring managers aren’t the only ones who can ask questions during an exit interview. You can also ask a few questions of your own like these:

1. What Are The Areas Where I Need To Work Harder?

While it may be hard to hear your shortcomings outloud, use this constructive criticism to turn these weaknesses into strengths.

By knowing what you need to work on, you’ll be able to excel in your next job and become a better employee.

2. Can I Use Your Reference In The Future?

The answer to this question is generally a ‘yes.’ Still, it’s better to ask it anyway during your exit survey.

Some companies shy away from providing references to former employees. This is a protective measure that helps safeguard the company in the event that the person takes part in a crime that can harm the company’s reputation.

3. Can I Come Back To Work Here If I Ever Want To?

You never know what the future holds. So, it’s always good to have options if you ever want to return to your old job.

Frequently Asked Questions

These questions may offer valuable insight into the exit Interview process regarding certain factors that may not have been covered in the sections above.

Are Exit Interviews a Trap?

Exit interviews aren’t a trap per se, but some questions may seem malicious. Certain questions may be used later to entrap you or force you to admit to something you didn’t do.

If you’re asked questions about specific people or incidents, give general answers or simply choose not to answer.

Should You Tell the Truth at Exit Interviews?

Yes, always try to tell the truth but up to a point. There’s no harm in being honest about the things you didn’t like about the company. Just be prepared to offer some proposed solutions.

If you can’t provide honest feedback, ask to move on to the next question.

Wrapping Up

Now, you know what to expect the next time you head in to answer exit interview questions. While you can always politely decline to participate, it’s better that you and your former employer answer truthfully.

This helps provide employers with valuable insight into the work environment. At the same time, it can also help you determine what you want in your upcoming job and what to avoid.

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