Writing an Exit Interview Questionnaire (With a Sample)

September 27, 2018 by Josh Hrala

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While many organization pay close attention to their onboarding practices, few give offboarding the same focus, despite the fact that companies with proper offboarding policies have a competitive advantage. This is largely due to those companies using an exit interview questionnaire to help them understand what’s going on inside their business.

What Is an Exit Interview Questionnaire?

An exit interview questionnaire is a small list of questions that can help organizations get a better understanding of why people are leaving their company and also how their teams are performing.

And that’s important.

When someone works at an organization for a long period of time, they amass a ton of knowledge about what is working and what can need a boost. However, they often do not speak up about these potential issues while they are still employed at the business.

So, when an employee is exiting the organization, it’s a great time for them to speak freely and openly, allowing HR to get a better understanding of the overall performance of teams.

How Do You Write an Exit Interview Questionnaire?

In this blog, we will go over some of the best questions to have on your questionnaire. You can also download our sample for free here:

Download our sample Exit Interview Checklist.

In general, though, the exit interview questionnaire is meant to dig into why the employee is leaving the organization, what they liked about working there, what improvements they think the organization should make, and what steps the organization could have taken to retain the employee.

It’s important to note that every organization is different, meaning that you should feel comfortable using our sample exit interview questionnaire as a starting point. You will likely have different questions that you’d like to ask, but we’re willing to bet they are all in the same spirit as the ones we will discuss here.

How Long Should an Exit Interview Questionnaire Be?

This is a great question.

You want to include enough questions that your employee will give you a decent amount of information. But, you also don’t want it to be too long because the employee can stop answering in detail.

Writing an Exit Interview Questionnaire (With a Sample)

An exit interview questionnaire shouldn’t feel like a ton of work to the outbound employee who is likely already dealing with a lot on their plate to make the transition to their new role outside of the company (plus transitioning members of their team to take over their role in the one they are leaving).

In our sample, we like to include nine exit interview questions.

Why nine?

Nine exit interview questions will allow you to get a lot of information without making it feel like a chore. If you are using this document to hold an actual exit interview where you will be filling out the form, writing more than nine answers in detail can get to be a bit much.

The goal is to use questions that are open-ended, allowing you to get a ton of information without actually asking a boatload of questions.

Should You Have the Employee Fill Out the Exit Interview Questionnaire?

This is another good question.

There are really two ways to deliver the questionnaire. You can have them fill it out by either sending it to them in an email (or letter) or you can have them fill it out during the exit interview. The other option is for you, the HR leader, to fill out the exit interview questionnaire while giving the exit interview by simply asking the employee the questions you’ve written down and filling in what they say.

There’s not really a ‘golden rule’ here. In the end, it depends on your organization and who the person is that will be offboarded.

For example, if the person feels more comfortable filling it out in private, giving them a chance to think and consider their answers more thoroughly, you should definitely let them because you are probably going to get better results.

Writing an Exit Interview Questionnaire (With a Sample)

On the other hand, by using the questionnaire inside the offboarding meeting, you can get the employee talking and make more of a conversation, allowing you to keep the information flowing.

This Isn’t a Deposition

The last tip we have is that you shouldn’t try to treat this like it is a legal proceeding.

Exit interviews are usually performed when a person is leaving on their own accord, meaning that they will likely be willing to have an open chat. If they are leaving because they disagree with something at your company, they are also more likely to say something.

That being said, there’s no need to take this so seriously that it stresses the person out because if you do come off like they are trying to ‘get’ them with a question, they will clam up.

Instead, try to keep things light but also get the information you want. Don’t hold it against the employee that they are leaving. Try to learn from it and see if there was anything you could have done to retain them.

Sample Exit Interview Questionnaire Questions

Okay, so you’re probably wondering what you should actually ask.

Well, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Why did you search for a new job?
  • If you didn’t conduct a job search, how did you land a new role?
  • What did you like most about your job here?
  • What can the organization improve on?
  • What could have been done to keep you working here?
  • Do you feel like management gave proper recognition for your work?
  • Do you feel like you were given the proper resources to perform your tasks?
  • Would you consider working here again?
  • Are there any other concerns you’d like to share about the company?

That final question is where you will hopefully get your employee to share their feelings. But, as you can see, all of these questions are primed to dig into the reasons why the person is leaving and what could have been done to save that from happening.

Exit Interview Questionnaire: The Takeaways

Using an exit interview questionnaire can be a great way to understand how your organization is working internally. Without asking any questions or performing any offboarding practices, you can open yourself up to runaway problems that you could have fixed if you knew they existed.

The exit interview process doesn’t have to be hard. Keep a simple list of questions at the ready and adjust them if you need to on a case-by-case basis.

In the end, your interview should be easy to give (or easy for the employee to fill out) and informative. Remember to not treat it like some cold, calculated legal battle. You are not in court. Try to, instead, use it as a way to leave on good terms and with a little more information than when you started.

Want to download our customizable exit interview questionnaire? Click below.

Download our sample Exit Interview Checklist.
Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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