What To Say In An Exit Interview?


Wondering what to say in an exit interview? 

Executing a perfect exit interview is essential for organizations to gain valuable insights to improve their operations.

It provides an opportunity to gather candid feedback from departing employees.

Addressing issues raised in exit interviews can enhance employee retention, boost morale, and promote a positive work environment.

Common issues resolved through successful exit interviews include,

  1. Concerns about compensation
  2. Opportunities for career advancement
  3. Improving communication between management and employees.

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What are Exit Interviews?

exit interview

Exit interviews are structured discussions between leaving employees and representatives of their current employer. 

These interviews typically occur after an employee has submitted their resignation but before their last day of work. 

The primary purpose of exit interviews is to gather feedback and insights from departing employees about their experiences, perceptions, and reasons for leaving the company. 

This feedback helps the company figure out what they can do better to keep other employees happy and make the workplace better. 

By paying attention to what leaving employees say and making changes based on that, companies can make the workplace more excellent for the people who stay.

Why Are Exit Interviews Important?

Exit interviews, an important part of the resignation letter process, serve as an avenue for employees to engage in venting and provide candid feedback about their experiences before departing for a new position at a new company or in a new role. 

Through these conversations, organizations can discover valuable insights into areas for improvement and gain a deeper understanding of the career path preferences and concerns of their contributors. 

By conducting effective exit interviews, companies can tailor their initiatives to address issues raised by departing employees, thereby reducing employee turnover and fostering a more positive work environment for current employees. 

The face-to-face interaction between departing employees and representatives from the HR department, such as the HR manager or HR professionals, facilitates open dialogue and allows for a more comprehensive evaluation of human resource management practices. 

Additionally, leveraging feedback gathered during exit interviews aligns with the principles advocated by organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and supports continuous improvement efforts within the company.

Effective Exit Interview Guide For Employers

Compelling exit interviews are vital for employers to gather feedback from departing employees.

Here is the guide,

1. Plan to Delay The Interview

delay exit interview

When you’re wrapping up a job, having an exit interview at the right time is crucial.

This means doing it on the last day or two of your job. 

This timing helps to sort out any issues quickly without causing problems for your team.

To ensure the interview stays on track, both the person leaving and the interviewer should think about what they want to discuss beforehand. 

One good way to do this is by giving the leaving employee a questionnaire to fill out before the interview. 

This helps them think about their answers and ensures the conversation stays helpful, especially if the employee was terminated negatively, as some people tend to get angry quickly. 

Making sure everyone is prepared, the exit interview can help get feedback and ensure everyone transitions smoothly.

2. Ask the Right Questions

Next, be sure to ask the right questions. 

The goal is to sound conversational yet still touch on critical topics.

You should have a standard set of questions you ask every exiting employee; that way, you have a base to interpret the feedback. 


Keep your employee’s answers brief to avoid letting the conversation spiral out of control. 

It helps to limit answers to a specific number. 

A beneficial exit interview should focus on constructive feedback that you can use to make improvements or provide insight into potential issues.

Below are some examples of good questions to ask:

  • Why did you start looking for a new job in the first place?
  • Is there a specific reason(s) you decided to leave the company? (Was there one particular reason or event responsible?)
  • What persuaded you to accept their offer if you were offered a position by another company?
  • What do you think are the positive/negative aspects of the company?
  • How was your relationship with your supervisor/manager? Could management improve?
  • What did you like/dislike most about your job?
  • Were you given the opportunity, resources, and support you needed to succeed at your job? If not, what was missing?
  • What do you think employee morale and motivation are like?
  • Was your job description defined correctly during the interview process and orientation?
  • How could we create a better workplace?
  • Are there ideas that you have that you wish you could have implemented while you were here?
  • What advice do you have for the next person in your position?

3. What Should You Avoid Saying in An Exit Interview

During the exit interview process, it’s essential for employers to maintain a positive atmosphere and refrain from discussing topics that could exacerbate the situation. 

Onboarding new employees effectively lays the groundwork for a positive experience within the company. 

However, in the unfortunate event of layoffs, it’s important to handle the process with sensitivity and professionalism. 

Employers should be prepared to answer questions and conduct exit interviews with departing employees to gain valuable insights into their experiences and reasons for leaving. 

Former employees provide valuable feedback that can be used by human resource departments to improve company policies and procedures. 

When employees are laid off, timely notifications and support resources can help ease the transition. 

Utilizing online surveys or social media platforms can also gather feedback on employee satisfaction and areas for improvement. 

Conducting exit interviews allows employers to gather valuable feedback from departing employees, contributing to a more informed and responsive human resource strategy.

4. Conduct The Actual Interview With Honesty

During the exit interview, creating a comfortable atmosphere for the departing employee is essential. 


Initiating light conversation and highlighting confidentiality helps propagate openness and honesty. 

Encourage the employee to share their feedback, experiences, and suggestions openly. 

Use questions that let them explain in detail and show you’re listening carefully.

If they bring up any problems, ask more questions to understand better and handle tough subjects with care.

The ultimate aim is to gather constructive feedback to enhance organizational practices and culture.

Promise to keep their feedback secret and to take it seriously. 

End the interview on a good note to show the conversation was helpful.

5. Using the Feedback

In an exit interview, the feedback from departing employees holds great value for employers.

This feedback tells us what the company does well and where it can improve.

It’s a secret weapon for growing the business, but many companies need to use it more.

But sometimes, companies need to pay more attention to this feedback.

They should listen and look for patterns in what departing employees say. 

One good way to do this is by putting all the feedback into a spreadsheet. 

This makes it easier to see if there are any common issues.

When companies listen to and act on this feedback, they can improve things for everyone. 

It can lead to happier employees who stay longer and even make the company perform better overall. 

Therefore, by taking exit interviews seriously, companies show they care about improving and ensuring their employees’ happiness.

Dos and Don’ts of Exit Interviews For Employee

dos and donts

Here’s a concise guide outlining the dos and don’ts of exit interviews for employees.


1. Be Honest But Professional

It’s essential to balance honesty and professionalism during an exit interview. 

Employees should respectfully share their thoughts about their time at the company when they leave. 

This helps the company learn what to do better without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Employees can help make the company better for everyone by giving helpful feedback politely. 

Being honest but polite and professional builds trust and openness, making it easier for the company to fix problems. 

It’s a chance to leave on good terms while also helping the company improve for everyone who works there now and in the future.

2. Provide Specific Examples To Support Your Points

Discuss how learning new technology or different management styles affected your job.

Give examples of how training programs helped you gain specific skills or knowledge for your job.

Talk about how you’ve progressed in your career within the company or if you still need to go.

Suggest practical changes that could have improved your job, like better technology or more transparent communication.

Share experiences that show what the company is good at and where it needs to improve.

Explain what would have made you want to stay at the company, such as getting paid more or having a better work-life balance.

When suggesting people to replace you, mention skills, qualifications, and personal qualities based on what you’ve learned in your role.

3. Offer Constructive Criticism

In an exit interview, a meeting held when an employee leaves a company, giving helpful advice can help the company improve. 

It’s a chance for departing employees to share their thoughts about their time at the company.

When you share your thoughts, remember to be polite and professional. 

Talk about things that could be better, like ways to improve processes or communication. 

Also, remember to mention what the company does well! It’s important to give credit where it’s due.

Instead of just pointing out problems, offer solutions to fix them. 

This shows that you genuinely want to help the company improve. 

Your feedback can make a real difference in making the company a better workplace for current and future employees

So, be honest and share your experiences openly during the exit interview.


1. Blame Others Or Speak Negatively About Colleagues

It’s important to stay professional and avoid blaming others or saying bad things about coworkers during an exit interview. 

Instead, share helpful feedback about your own experiences and ideas for improving things.

Pointing out ways to improve or suggesting changes to how things are done can help. 

By staying positive, you protect your professional image and ensure the exit interview is valuable and respectful. 

Keep the conversation focused on practical suggestions that can help the company in the future.

2. Burn Bridges Or Make Threats

In an exit interview, it’s essential to be professional to keep good relationships and safeguard your reputation. 

Instead of causing problems or threatening, give helpful feedback to improve the organization. 

Don’t complain or say bad things about coworkers or the company culture.

Instead, suggest ways to improve and thank you for your chances. 

Remember that it’s a small world, and you never know when your paths might cross again. So, leave on good terms and preserve your professional relationships.

3. Share Confidential Or Sensitive Information

It’s essential to keep private information about the company, its people, and its operations from being shared. 

This means keeping things like particular data, secret techniques, and personal matters private. 

Sharing such information can breach trust, violate company policies, and potentially lead to legal consequences.

Instead, talk about your experiences, what you’ve noticed, and how things could improve.

Being professional and quiet during the exit interview means you are doing the right thing and helping keep yourself and the company in good shape.

Top Exit Interview Questions and Answers

Exit interviews are important for both departing employees and employers alike. 

They provide valuable insights into the reasons behind an employee’s departure and offer opportunities for constructive feedback. 

Here are some common exit interview questions and suggested answers to help navigate this important process.

1. Why are you leaving your current role?

   – Answer: “I have found a new opportunity that aligns more closely with my career goals and offers greater learning opportunities.”

2. How would you describe your working relationship with your colleagues and supervisors?

   – Answer: “Overall, I’ve had a positive working relationship with my team members and managers. We collaborated effectively on projects and communicated well to achieve common goals.”

3. Did the benefits package meet your expectations?

   – Answer: “The benefits package offered by the company was comprehensive and provided adequate coverage for my needs.”

4. What factors contributed to your decision to make a career change?

   – Answer: “I felt it was time for a career change to pursue new challenges and opportunities for growth.”

5. What are your career goals for the future?

   – Answer: “I aim to continue developing my skills and expertise in [industry/field], with the goal of taking on more leadership responsibilities in the future.”

6. How would you describe your overall employee experience at the company?

   – Answer: “My overall employee experience has been positive. I’ve had the chance to work on interesting projects and have felt supported by my colleagues and supervisors.”

7. Can you provide feedback on your former employer and ways they can improve?

   – Answer: “While there were many positive aspects of working for my former employer, I believe there could be more emphasis on providing regular feedback and opportunities for professional development.”

8. Reflecting on your job interview experience, do you feel it accurately represented the job and company?

   – Answer: “Yes, the job interview process gave me a clear understanding of the job responsibilities and company culture.”

9. Did you feel a sense of job satisfaction during your time with the company?

   – Answer: “Yes, overall, I felt satisfied with my job and the work I was doing.”

10. How would you rate the job well-being and working conditions?

    – Answer: “The working conditions were generally favorable, and the company prioritized employee well-being.”

In considering these common exit interview questions and answers, it’s important for both employees and employers to approach the process with openness and a willingness to learn and improve. 

By gathering honest feedback, companies can identify areas for growth and create a more positive working environment for current and future employees.

How to Handle Sensitive Topics in an Exit Interview?

  • Approach with Diplomacy: Maintaining a professional and diplomatic tone when discussing sensitive topics like workplace culture or management issues.
  • Focus on Solutions: Instead of dwelling solely on problems, offer constructive suggestions or solutions to address the issues raised.
  • Provide Specific Examples: Support your feedback with specific examples or instances to illustrate your points effectively.
  • Maintain Confidentiality: Assure the interviewer that your feedback will be confidential to encourage honesty and openness.
  • Stay Professional: When discussing personal offense, maintain a professional attitude to avoid burning bridges or damaging relationships.
  • Express Gratitude: End the interview on a positive note by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to provide feedback and contribute to the improvement of the organization.

Other than the above-mentioned points, you can also adopt the following practices especially if you are hoping to handle sensitive topics in an exit interview you are about to conduct.

1. Discussing Reasons For Leaving

Being honest about why you’re leaving is essential during an exit interview. 

Sharing your reasons respectfully and helpfully helps the company learn and improve. 

Focus on things like wanting better chances to grow in your career, how well your values match the company’s, or the need for new challenges. 

Try not to criticize people personally or say bad things about your colleagues or managers. 

Instead, try giving feedback that can help the company improve or offer solutions. 

Suggest ways to fix the problems you raise; this shows you’re proactive about solving issues.

2. Addressing Conflicts Or Disagreements

When addressing conflicts or disagreements in an exit interview, it’s essential to approach the topic constructively and professionally. 

Begin by providing specific examples of the conflict or disagreement without blaming anyone.

Explain how these problems affected your work and suggest ways to fix them. 

Point out the importance of open communication and teamwork in resolving conflicts effectively. 

Also, mention what you tried to do to fix things before you decided to leave. 

By handling conflicts politely, you can help make the workplace better for everyone.

3. Providing Feedback On Management Or Company Policies

When addressing sensitive topics like management or company policies in an exit interview, offering constructive feedback is essential.

Focus on specific instances or examples to illustrate your points rather than making extensive generalizations. 

Be truthful but nice about it, and focus on ways things could get better, not just what’s wrong.

Giving helpful feedback can improve things for everyone who works there now and in the future.

Do You Have To Do An Exit Interview?

Exit interviews are a common practice in many organizations, but are they mandatory? 

While there is no legal requirement for an exit interview, many companies choose to conduct them as part of their employee offboarding process. 

The primary purpose of an exit interview is to gain insight into the reasons why an employee is leaving and to gather feedback that can be used to improve the organization’s policies, practices, and culture. 

However, not all employees may feel comfortable participating in an exit interview, especially if they have personal reasons for leaving or if they have negative feedback to share. 

In such cases, it’s important for human resources to respect the individual’s decision and not pressure them into participating. 

Instead, HR may opt for alternative methods of gathering feedback, such as anonymous surveys or follow-up discussions with former colleagues.

For new employees, understanding the purpose and potential benefits of exit interviews can be helpful. 

It’s an opportunity for them to provide constructive feedback about their experiences, offer suggestions for improvement, and even seek guidance from a career coach if they’re unsure about their next steps. 

During the interview, hiring managers may pay attention to not just what is said, but also to body language, which can provide valuable insights into an employee’s feelings and motivations. 

Additionally, exit interviews can be a chance for team members to express their appreciation for their departing colleague and to offer support during their job search.

Ultimately, whether or not an exit interview is conducted, it’s essential for organizations to create an environment where employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns and where feedback is valued as a tool for growth and improvement.

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