Exit Interview: All you Need to Know to Be Prepared


If you changed jobs recently you might have already gone through an exit interview. Alternatively, if you are planning to change jobs in the near future, chances are that your current employer will ask you to participate in an exit interview.

If you are one of the over 40% of the global workforce who consider leaving their employer this year, then you might consider being prepared for your exit interview.

Exit interviews are a common component of an offboarding process. Just to brush up on the meaning of offboarding: offboarding means the process that leads to the formal separation between an employee and a company through resignation, termination, or retirement.

We at introdus, employee onboarding software, believe that the entire offboarding process, including the exit interview, should be taken as seriously as the pre & onboarding processes by both employees and employers.

This article will discuss in depth the exit interview – starting with what is an exit interview, and its role at the end of your employee lifecycle with an employer. We will also highlight some exit interview questions and how to answer exit interview questions, thus some exit interview dos & don’ts.

What is an Exit Interview?


As already mentioned, an exit interview is a component of the offboarding process. More formally, it can be defined as a survey conducted by the HR department with an employee who is separating from an organisation.

If during a job interview you will be asked why you want to join an organisation, the exit survey questions will target finding out why you decided to leave the organisation.

So from the employer’s point of view during the exit conversation, the employee feedback is collected with the view of improving the employee experience for the remaining employees, and in doing so, preventing other employees from leaving.


How to Prepare for An Exit Interview?


Exit interviews might be a lot more stressful for some employees than even job interviews. You have already moved on mentally and emotionally from that employer: obviously you found something better – be it financially, or providing better career prospects, or simply something that better matches your values. So there might be no hard feelings on your side, it just made sense to look for something better.

But what if you quit because of a bad culture or bad management? How do you handle the exit interview in a diplomatic manner? You have to provide a reason for leaving, but you might not want to be fully transparent for fear of future repercussions.

And you might be tempted to think: what future repercussions? You’re with a leg out of the company already. However, what if you might want to return to work for that particular employer in the future? What if they will develop a new project that will be right up your alley? A bad offboarding and a bad exit interview could close that door forever.

So before participating to an exit interview, here are some key facts you should reflect on, regarding what to say in an exit interview:

1. What is the reason for leaving?

2. How has the job been structured?

3. Did you have enough opportunities for growth?

4. What did you like most from the job?

5. Did you find the job meaningful and motivating?

Note how, despite relating to your personal motivation and perception of the job, these questions are quite fact based. Nobody will contest your motivation, your progress made in the company and the structure of your job. By having these facts readily available in mind, you can go on to provide actual feedback or comment on leadership style, direction of the team etc.

So, as a next step for preparing for your exit interview, we have compiled a list with some dos and don’ts to consider when participating in an exit interview: what to say in an exit interview, what questions to ask in an exit interview etc.

Exit Interview Insights

Overall, my advice to clients who are preparing for an exit interview is: Good endings make good beginnings.

—Maggie Mistal, Career Consultant and Executive Coach.

Exit Interview Dos & Don’ts


We have compiled the following list of advice for your exit interview – what to say, and how to say it.


1. It is a good idea to prepare ahead of time

If you really feel like you have precious feedback for the organisation, you should consider writing it down in a few key points. Try to be objective and bring arguments supporting your feedback.

Also, try to place your feedback within a framework of what you think would be to the benefit of the company and your soon to be ex-team. This will ensure that the employer will remember you in a positive way.


2. Be professional and try to keep your emotions in check

Think of the end of your current employment through the lenses of “never close doors behind you.” Your exit interview will be the last impression you leave with your employer.

You should consider the fact that as part of your background check, your new employer might call and ask for insights into your behaviour as a professional figure.


3. Keep a positive attitude

If you come across as overly critical and cynical, your employer might misread your intentions and regard you as overly bitter. If you care about the company and the people there, and you do feel like your feedback can make a difference, do not refrain from providing it.

However, make sure that you provide fact-based comments. You can also consider highlighting the things that you did like about the job. It can provide insights into the things that are actually working, as well as the factors that contribute to a positive employee experience.


4. Keep things simple

Try to provide key pointers, supported by verifiable facts, and keep it short. You can provide examples of situations which might have contributed to your decision to leave: maybe you were allocated to a new project that did not match your interests, maybe you realised that your new manager leadership style just does not fit you.


5. Show gratitude

You should be able to show gratitude for the time you spend there, the relationships you established and the things you have learned. You want to have a gracious exit that ensures a positive review from the employer if solicited, and that would also leave open future employment opportunities. Thus, refrain from any categorical affirmations like “I’ll never work here again”, “my experience has been appalling”,  “There is nothing that you could ever do to convince me to go back.”

Exit Interview Insights

The challenge is to provide non-emotional feedback. You don’t want to rail. That kind of feedback doesn’t get heard.

—Vivian Rank, Consultant for The Society for Human Resource Management.


Why are Exit Interviews Important?


I think that we can all agree that any employee deciding to leave a company has a serious reason. We spend too much time of our lives working on our jobs to afford being in the wrong employment relationship. Of course, defining a wrong job is an extremely subjective matter.

So let’s explore why exit interviews are important for both employers and employees.


Why are Exit Interviews Important for Employers?


Listening to employee experiences and reasoning can provide companies with the data they need in order to bring some change. Ideally, this would be a constant during your employment and not just at the very end of your employment relationship.

Hence, in the light of the above, it’s probably obvious why exit interviews are important for employers. Satisfied employees are productive employees and productive employees lead to increased business outcomes, higher client satisfaction etc.

Thus, exit interviews are a data collection opportunity for investigating any weak points in the company culture, and any opportunities for improving the employee satisfaction.

When companies are taking advantage of any opportunity to listen to the employee experiences, they not only show that they are willing to learn and improve, but also, they show to current employees that they want to create the best conditions for retaining them.

Exit Interview Insights

An employee who is satisfied with their work is 40% more productive than an unsatisfied one.

—Bain & Company.



So the exit interviews are a data collection opportunity for investigating any weak points in the company culture, and any opportunities for improving the employee satisfaction.

When companies are taking advantage of any opportunity to listen to the employee experiences, they not only show that they are willing to learn and improve, but also, they show to current employees that they want to create the best conditions for retaining them.


Why are Exit Interviews Important for Employees?


You might think that exit interviews present little value for you as an employee. However, even if you are already out of the company that carries the exit interview, you can still draw benefits from this experience.

In fact, we would argue that an exit interview can be a valuable professional exercise at the end of your employment. As you are ready to move on to a new job opportunity, the exit interview can be an opportunity to draw the line and critically review the entire employee lifecycle with that particular employer.

If you take the opportunity to self-reflect what has been working and what has not, what matters for you and what is rather negligible, you can become more clear and focused on your expectations from a workplace. This can be essential information to carry with you moving forward. After all, there is no guarantee that your new employer will perfectly match your expectations.

But once you have those expectations clear in your mind, you can actually act on them and be vocal in what you need moving forward.

Additionally, the exit interview is also an opportunity for you to cordially conclude a work collaboration, leaving behind a network, and taking with you key information on how the employer conducts business. It is not imaginable to think that you might come back to work for that employer at some point in the future.


Exit Interview Questions Examples


When employees decide to pursue different career opportunities, this might be caused by their own inner desires and motivations, or by structural challenges within the organisation. So any exit interview can be conceptualised as a learning opportunity for an organisation in order to ask some essential questions.

We have compiled a list of exit interview questions to expect being asked:

  1. Why did you decide to leave? Is it related to financial benefits, a perceived career impasse and a resulting desire to seek career advancement somewhere else?
  2. Did your choice have any link to the leadership of the team or the organisation?
  3. Did you decide to completely switch industries or fields?
  4. Was there anything that would have changed your mind?
  5. Was your decision influenced by fellow co-workers also pursuing different opportunities?


To conclude, exit interviews provide a formal context for the separation between an employee and employer. As in any formal process, there are some expectations of does and don’ts. We hope that you feel prepared to participate in the exit interview and that your overall offboarding experience will be positive and professional.

When employers invest in streamlined employee focused tools, you are one step closer to a successful offboarding.

Conduct a successful Exit Interview with the support of an effective Onboarding & Offboarding software tool.


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