The 20 best exit interview questions to ask

Understanding why people leave is the first step in meeting the challenge of employee retention. These are our top 20 best exit interview questions to ask.

We arrived at these questions by carrying out the type of employee experience survey analysis we recommend. We started with our core model of engagement and then evaluated the current exit surveys in our database. We examined each survey question’s statistical relationship with how much people would recommend the organisation as a good place to work.

Your reason for leaving

This question is the main question for any exit survey as the objective of exit surveys is to understand why people are leaving. The wording is important – we ask people to tell us what triggered them to leave, rather than asking them what they are going to do next.

This question is useful when tabulated as it will indicate the relative numbers of employees who are leaving for various reasons. However, it is not as useful as it could be as it does not provide much detail on what the organisation can do to reduce employee turnover. This is why the rest of the questions in this post are essential.

  1. What led you to make the decision to leave the organisation?

Reward and recognition

People need to feel as though the company values them and recognises the effort they put in. Whilst pay has always been a fairly contentious issue it is a bigger issue at the moment because of the retention crisis so can’t be ignored. At the end of the day, people need to feel fairly rewarded for what they do.

  1. I felt fairly rewarded for my performance
  2. I felt recognised for my contribution

Communication and inclusion

In any relationship people need to feel as though they are communicated with. This is a two-way street – people need to feel informed about things that might impact them, but they also need to feel as though they have a voice and can speak up, whether it be to raise concerns or suggest ideas.

  1. My opinions and ideas were valued
  2. I felt well informed in the company
  3. Working together was encouraged by the company

Company culture

How connected people are too the wider organisation is an important engagement factor. Culture is formed by many factors, but in simple terms it is an indicator of how much people feel they ‘fit’ or belong in the organisation.

  1. The company cared about how I felt
  2. The company treats people fairly, equally and with respect
  3. I understood how my work was linked to the company’s purpose


There is much more focus on wellbeing nowadays, whether it be financial, physical or mental. The most forward thinking organisations are investing in much more support to ensure people feel safe at work. In addition, there is also more focus on flexible working to ensure people have a better work-life balance.

  1. My work gave me a sense of wellbeing
  2. I enjoyed a good work-life balance
  3. I had enough time and resources to do what was expected of me

Development and career progression

Our data shows that many leavers leave after around 2 years with their organisation. This is because after two years people start to feel fully competent in their role and they are beginning to think about taking on new challenges. If they feel the organisation cannot provide those challenges, or is not showing any interest in even considering it, they will seek those challenges elsewhere.

  1. I could see how my career could have progressed with the organisation
  2. I had opportunities for personal development and growth
  3. I was provided with frequent feedback on my development

Management style

Managers are one of the key ‘touchpoints’ employees have with the company. For many people their line manager represents ‘the company’. The line manager is the most immediate source of information, recognition and support. If people do not feel their manager cares about them it has a massive impact on engagement.

  1. My manager provided me with adequate support in my job
  2. I felt valued by my manager
  3. I understood what my manager expected of me

Job satisfaction

The nature of the work we do is also another major touchpoint we have with the organisation we work for. You could work for the best company in the world, but if you hate your job you will very quickly become disengaged!

  1. I felt responsible and accountable for my work
  2. I felt that my work made a difference

In conclusion

Whilst this is not an exhaustive list of exit interview questions, each question will help you identify how to improve levels of employee engagement and reduce levels of employee turnover in your organisation.