Exit Interview

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Exit Interview

In the ever-evolving landscape of modern workplaces, employees come and go, each leaving behind a unique imprint on the organizational fabric. As individuals embark on new journeys and embrace fresh opportunities, organizations often seize the chance to gain valuable insights through a process known as the "exit interview." 

Beyond being a customary process, the exit interview serves as a bridge connecting an employee's past journey with an organization to its future aspirations. It provides a unique chance to garner candid feedback, identify operational blind spots, and uncover areas for improvement that may otherwise remain concealed. 

Join us as we navigate the intricacies of this vital HR practice, where the departure of one becomes a gateway to a brighter, more insightful future for all.

While it is absolutely natural for an employee to leave, employers must make it a point of duty to fill the open vacancy in order to maintain productivity and ensure a smooth transition. BrightMove's ATS cloud-based software enables you to efficiently manage job postings, screen applicants, schedule interviews, and select the best candidates for the position. By leveraging our software, you can save time and effort, ensure consistent and fair evaluation of candidates, and ultimately secure qualified replacements for a departing employee. Contact us now to get started.

What Is An Exit Interview?

An exit interview is a structured conversation conducted between an organization and a departing employee. It serves as a means to gather feedback, insights, and perspectives from the departing employee about their experiences, opinions, and suggestions related to their employment and the organization as a whole. 

Typically conducted shortly before or after an employee's final day of work, the exit interview aims to create an open and confidential environment where departing employees can express their thoughts freely.

What Is The Purpose Of An Exit Interview?

Parting ways can be tough, but an exit interview adds a splash of purposeful humor to the mix. This lighthearted yet enlightening conversation aims to extract valuable insights, leaving no stone unturned and no punchline unshared. Let’s take a detailed look at some of these purposes.

Find Ways To Improve

An exit interview serves as a strategic tool for organizations to gain valuable insights and feedback from departing employees. It provides an opportunity to identify areas for improvement, refine organizational practices, and enhance employee satisfaction. 

Companies can gain vital lessons from departing employees' experiences and ideas, guiding their future growth, and creating a healthy work environment for their current and future workforce.

Review Procedures and Policies

An exit interview offers a crucial opportunity to gather firsthand accounts from departing employees who can provide honest and unfiltered feedback in a private and confidential setting. 

By actively listening to these departing employees, businesses can gain valuable insights into the efficacy of their processes and business policies. Employees who are leaving the company may feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions, as they are no longer bound by the constraints of being an active employee.

Motivate The Employee To Stay 

An exit interview can be utilized as an opportunity to present alternative employment terms to a staff member with the intention of retaining their position. While not a common practice, this approach can be mutually beneficial for both the employee planning to leave and the employer.

This open and empathetic conversation allows organizations to demonstrate their commitment to employee satisfaction, growth, and development. Through engaging in discussions about potential solutions, organizations can demonstrate their readiness to adapt, evolve, and foster positive change.

What Are The Benefits Of Exit Interviews?

Exit interviews may not be the most glamorous activity in the business world, but they sure do pack a punch! The benefits of conducting an exit interview include:

Friendly Exit

One of the significant benefits of exit interviews is the opportunity to foster a friendly and professional departure for employees. By conducting these interviews in a respectful and supportive manner, organizations show their commitment to maintaining positive relationships with departing employees. This friendly exit approach not only helps preserve goodwill but also encourages open and honest feedback. 

Employees feel more comfortable sharing their experiences, concerns, and suggestions, leading to valuable insights for the organization. Additionally, it leaves a positive impression on the departing employee, enhancing the organization's reputation and potentially even paving the way for future collaborations.

Organized Departure

When employees decide to move on from a company, conducting exit interviews allows for a structured and formal process to take place. This helps ensure that the departing employee's transition is handled smoothly, with all necessary paperwork, tasks, and knowledge transfers completed efficiently. Companies can minimize disruptions and ensure operational continuity by systematically addressing employee departures. 

Comfortable Q&A

One of the key benefits of exit interviews is the opportunity they provide for a comfortable question-and-answer session. During this process, departing employees have a chance to express their thoughts, experiences, and concerns in a professional and confidential setting. This comfortable environment encourages employees to provide honest feedback without the fear of repercussions.

Private Communication

Exit interviews provide a confidential space for departing employees to express their thoughts, experiences, and concerns. This private setting encourages employees to share honest and candid feedback about their time with the organization, including issues they may have encountered or suggestions for improvement. 

By fostering open communication, organizations can gain valuable insights into their strengths and weaknesses, identify patterns or systemic problems, and make informed decisions to enhance their workplace environment, policies, and practices. 

How Long Does An Exit Interview Typically Take?

According to Harvard Business Review, the duration of an exit interview can vary depending on different perspectives. Some executives suggest keeping it to an hour, allowing for the possibility of extending the conversation if needed. Others recommend allocating up to 90 minutes for an exit interview.1

It may be beneficial to give departing employees the flexibility to choose the location and timing of their exit interviews. Ultimately, the length of an exit interview may depend on various factors such as the complexity of the employee's role, the organization's policies, and the depth of discussion required to gather valuable insights.

When Should Exit Interviews Be Held? 

According to some experts as reported by Harvard Business Review, the timing of an exit interview can significantly impact its effectiveness. One recommended approach is to conduct the initial exit interview halfway between the employee's announcement of their intention to leave and their actual departure. This timing allows for emotions to settle while the employee is still mentally engaged with the organization.

According to the same report, another effective approach is to schedule the exit interview after the employee has already left the company. This delayed timing, typically about a month later, can create a more relaxed environment for the conversation. In this scenario, the employee may be more open and honest about their reasons for leaving, especially if they were considered a high potential within the organization. 

How To Conduct An Effective Exit Interview? 

Conducting an effective exit interview is an art in itself, one that demands the right mix of sensitivity, curiosity, and attentiveness. It requires creating an environment where departing employees feel comfortable sharing their genuine experiences and insights, free from judgment or repercussions. Here are some key steps and considerations.

Explain The Purpose Of The Appointment When Scheduling The Meeting

When scheduling an exit interview, it is important to explain the purpose of the appointment to the departing employee. This will help the employee understand the importance of the meeting and the role they will play in it. The purpose of the interview should be made clear so that the departing employee can come prepared with their thoughts and feedback. 

Enlist Someone Other Than The Individual's Direct Manager To Interview Them 

It is advisable to have someone else conduct the exit interview. If employees are leaving due to issues with their manager, they are unlikely to express this during an exit interview conducted by that same manager.

Ideally, a member of the HR team is a suitable choice for conducting exit interviews. They can effectively address job-specific concerns, complaints, or suggestions and also gather feedback on the overall organizational experience. 

In certain cases, companies opt for external consultants to conduct exit interviews. This approach allows former employees to feel more at ease sharing their thoughts with an unbiased third party.

Ensure Confidentiality By Stressing That Openness Is Encouraged

Clearly communicate to the employee that their responses will be treated with strict confidentiality. Assure them that their feedback will not be shared in a way that could personally identify them. 

Stress that the purpose of the interview is to gather honest and constructive feedback to help improve the organization. Encourage the employee to be open and share their experiences, opinions, and concerns without fear of reprisal.

Prepare A Set Of Relevant And Helpful Questions Ahead Of Time

Every employee is unique, which means that even if you have previously conducted exit interviews with other employees, it is crucial to approach each one individually. Take the time to plan your questions, familiarize yourself with the employee's specific role and responsibilities, and make necessary arrangements for the meeting. 

Make sure the questions are relevant to the employee's experience and don't contain any bias. This will ensure that the employee feels comfortable and secure during the interview. 

Show Enthusiasm And Support For The Person's New Venture

Acknowledging their decision to pursue new opportunities with positivity and encouragement creates an environment of respect and goodwill. By expressing genuine excitement for their future endeavors, you can leave a positive lasting impression and maintain a healthy professional relationship. 

Demonstrating support not only reflects positively on the organization but also encourages a culture of goodwill and respect, fostering a sense of gratitude and leaving the door open for potential collaborations or partnerships in the future.

What Are The Common Exit Interview Questions? 

These interviews typically consist of a set of common questions aimed at understanding the departing employee's experiences, reasons for leaving, and suggestions for improvement. While the specific questions can vary depending on the organization, some common exit interview questions include:

  • What led to your decision to leave the company?

  • What did you like most about working here?

  • What did you like least about working here?

  • What did you find most challenging about this job?

  • What did you find most rewarding about this job?

  • Did you feel that you had adequate support from your manager?

  • Did you feel like a valued team member while working here?

  • Did you have any issues with your co-workers?

  • Did you have adequate growth potential within the company?

  • Was there anything that could have been done to make you stay?

  • How would you rate your overall experience working here?

  • What does your new position offer that differs from your role here?

  • Do you feel like you lacked resources, training, or feedback that you needed to improve?

  • What do you think could be improved about the work environment?

  • What would you say were the company's strengths and weaknesses?

  • What would you change about this position?

  • Do you have any suggestions for improving the company's policies or procedures?

  • What do you think the company could do to better retain its employees?

  • Do you have any advice for the company going forward?


How do you negotiate an exit interview?

Begin by clearly communicating the purpose of the interview, emphasizing that it is an opportunity for the departing employee to provide feedback and insights that can help improve the organization. Ensure a comfortable environment where the employee feels safe to share their thoughts openly. Actively listen and validate their experiences and concerns, expressing gratitude for their contributions and acknowledging any challenges they may have faced. 

Should exit interviews be conducted with terminated employees?

Yes, it is important to conduct an exit interview with any employee who is leaving the company, regardless of whether they are being terminated or leaving voluntarily. This provides the employer with valuable feedback on how they can improve their workplace environment and policies.

What are the main reasons for leaving an exit interview?

Exit interviews allow the employer to gain insight into why an employee is leaving the company. Common reasons for leaving can include career advancement opportunities that are not available within the organization, a desire for better work-life balance, dissatisfaction with management or leadership, lack of recognition or appreciation, inadequate compensation or benefits, limited opportunities for professional development, or poor company culture.

Should the exit interview be in person or via survey? 

While exit interviews can be conducted through various methods such as written or online surveys, phone calls, chats, or emails, it is widely regarded as best practice to conduct them in person. In-person exit interviews offer greater effectiveness due to the ability to engage in direct, two-way communication.

Can exit interviews be recorded?

Yes, exit interviews can be recorded, but it is important to get the employee's consent first. Recording the interview can help ensure that all the questions are answered and that the employee's thoughts and opinions are accurately documented.

What is the risk of not conducting exit interviews?

Not conducting exit interviews risks missing valuable feedback and insights, limiting the identification of systemic issues, and leaving departing employees feeling unheard or undervalued. It also hampers organizational learning and improvement opportunities, impacting employee experience and retention strategies.

Are exit interviews mandatory?

No, exit interviews are not mandatory, but they are strongly recommended. Whether or not exit interviews are mandatory is determined by the policies and practices of individual companies. While some organizations may have a mandatory exit interview requirement as part of their offboarding process, others may offer it as an optional opportunity for departing employees to share their feedback. 


  1. Spain, E., & Groysberg, B. (2016, April). Making Exit Interviews Count. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2016/04/making-exit-interviews-count

  2. Spain, E., & Groysberg, B. (2016, April). Making Exit Interviews Count. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2016/04/making-exit-interviews-count