Common Exit Interview Questions

Courage gathered and brighter horizon spotted, you gave your two weeks’ notice to management. You aim to push through these last 10 days and tie up loose ends with grace and professionalism.

It likely took you many months, cups of coffee and rough drafts to send that two weeks’ notice. It only takes HR an email or phone call to request your presence for an exit interview. Hello, potentially stressful conversation. Unfortunately, you can’t pack up and sneak out when your final day comes.

Exit interviews require a modicum of steel-clad nerves, clarity and reservation you may not feel you possess right now. However, answering employer exit interview questions calmly, concisely and honestly will maintain a positive relationship after you move on and inform them how to improve the company and your position for future hires. Here are seven common exit interview questions you’ll likely encounter.


1. Why Are You Leaving Your Current Role?

They want to know how you came to your decision and what factors influenced its making. Can you think of one event that swayed your decision? Has this urge to quit built up over several months or years? Why? Do you have thoughts on constructive criticism and improvement?

Stick with the one question, and try to answer it as concisely and clearly as possible with neutral language. Retention matters to every company. Otherwise, the competition keeps all the local talent.

Who knows? The employer may fight to keep you, and offer you better benefits and a less pushy boss. You don’t have to accept.


2. Were You Adequately Trained for Your Role?

What kind of onboarding did you receive as an employee? Did it prepare you for the ins and outs of your job, within reason?

Consider if the technology needs updating, training lacked, or team members and leaders were uncommunicative. Balance the pros with the cons in your feedback.


3. What Kind of Relationship Did You Have With Your Supervisor?

Your relationship with your boss presents tricky waters to navigate. For some, that relationship was a bright spot in the dark, shark-infested corporate waters. For others, their boss was the shark. You probably don’t want to say that.

Again, balance out the pros with the cons. It’s OK to say you didn’t see eye to eye. What did you think of your supervisor’s communication and management style? Your boss may have micromanaged you, but perhaps they also increased their feedback and helped you push for improvement. You became the go-to person. You never appreciated the micromanagement, but you saw where they were coming from as a supervisor.

Keep your thoughts constructive. You may help HR provide leadership with more tips on being personable and accessible.


4. What Made You Accept Your New Role?

Was it the golden ticket or the all-you-can-drink coffee, complete with a personal barista? You don’t owe all the details to HR, but the right mix of information will clue them in on how to keep their employees and improve their offers to new candidates.

Before you head in for your exit interview, consider the biggest selling point of the new position. What appealed to you? Was it the work culture or benefits package? Did the new employer outline a particular path of growth in the company that fit better with your career goals? Speak up.


5. What Was Your Favorite Part of Your Job?

This question is one of the more enjoyable parts of the exit interview and may precede or follow a tougher one. What did you like the most about your job? What did you take pleasure in doing? Did you enjoy company-organized social activities, working with your stellar team and serving a particular client?

This information helps the employer expand the positives and make the job more welcoming for a future hire. It also gives your employer positives to list for you in the future if you need a reference — “This employee brought such enthusiasm to serving our biggest client.”


6. What Was the Worst Part of Your Job?

There’s always a flip side, isn’t there? Don’t get caught off guard by this question.

You can always ease into the least preferred aspects of the job by joking about paperwork, but don’t go too far. Don’t dwell on routine parts of the job, since all jobs have these particulars. Instead, focus on giving one relevant example. This provides a window for the employer to make process improvements.

Don’t rise to the level of venting. Do professionally address ways these least favorite parts of the job might have gone more smoothly or be done away with to improve productivity and positivity.


7. What Qualifications and Skills Should We Require in Your Replacement?

Your employers think they know your job, but they don’t know the ins and outs like you do. They can’t see how the role has evolved and rely on you to inform them of the precise qualifications and skills needed to hire a successful replacement.

Some job duties are copy-and-paste acts on the advertisement. In your experience, you likely encountered a trivial or outdated duty that no previous worker in your role ever touched. Address this with the employer and emphasize the skills needed to take the role to the next level.

Don’t stress out about your exit interview. You’ll face tough questions, but you also get an opportunity help the company address areas of improvement, as well as highlight the positives.

Challenge your worst-case scenario of the exit interview. You’re on the boat out, and no one can fire you. Go to the interview with grace and professionalism, but stick with honesty as your policy.


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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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