Exit interview questions |

You’re leaving, but there’s one last thing to do before you say goodbye. 

Yes, your employer has asked you to attend an exit interview. 

If you’ve never attended an exit interview before or if your last one didn’t go so well, don’t panic. Although you can’t prepare for exactly how it’s going to go, there are some common questions that could come up – and making sure you know how to answer these effectively will definitely help you say goodbye the right way. 

We’ve already covered how to survive an exit interview, but here are five questions that your employer may ask and example answers that will help you both to part on good terms. 


What is an exit interview?

An exit interview is a formal meeting between yourself and HR or members of the management team. Exit interviews tend to happen right before you leave the company, maybe a day or two before your last day. The aim of the interview is for your current employer to understand your reasons for leaving and to gather information that will help them when hiring your replacement. 

An exit interview can happen in several ways, including a face to face meeting, a telephone call with your manager, a survey or an online questionnaire. 


How to prepare for an exit interview

Maintaining a positive dialogue throughout the interview is crucial as it’s always better to leave on good terms. You never know, you may need your current employer to provide you with a reference, or you could decide to work with them again in the future. So, even if some of the things you’re planning to say may come across as criticism, always aim to add a positive spin. 

If it helps you feel more prepared, write down the points you want to mention and take this list to the interview. 

To wrap up the exit interview on a good note, cover what you feel are the highs of working for the company. Maybe it’s the extensive training programme or generous employee benefits package? Or something else that you feel sets it apart from other companies.

How to survive an exit interview


Five exit interview questions you may be asked 


Why are you leaving? 

This is probably the most important question your employer wants to know the answer to, as what you say could be used to improve their staff retention. What they’re essentially  interested in finding out is if there was a specific incident or element of your role that triggered your resignation

Providing honest feedback here will help your employer identify any issues that they may not be aware of. Even if it’s not something they managed to change before you decided to move on.

Right answer: ‘By chance, I saw a manager position advertised with a national firm. After  researching the company, I learned that it has a great reputation for offering career progression. And as it’s a more senior role than my current position, it felt like the right time to move on.’

Wrong answer: ‘I hate working here.’

Reasons for leaving a job: What to tell your employer


Is there anything we could change to make you stay? 

Employers will always want to keep hold of skilled and experienced staff, as losing them can lower company morale and productivity.  Plus, it may be timely and costly to replace you. Your employer is interested to know if there’s anything extra, such as salary  or additional employee benefits, they can offer to make working with them more attractive. 

Be transparent with your answer, and if you’re set on joining the new company, say so – but in a way that keeps the door open. 

Right answer: ‘I’ve really enjoyed working here and I’ve learned many valuable skills. However, I’m excited by the innovative things my new company is doing and I feel my skills will greatly add to the project I’ll be working on. However, if the right position came up with you in the future that matched my career plans, it would definitely  be something I’d consider.’

Wrong answer: ‘No, I can’t wait to leave.’

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Would you recommend us to other jobseekers? 

The reason for asking this question is that your employer wants to know what the pros are for working for them and what else they can do to attract and maintain skilled employees. 

Your current employer wants you to be honest, even if it’s hard for them to hear what you’re saying. If your answer is no, be clear on the reasons why, but follow it up with what the company can do to change this. 

Right answer: ‘It would depend on the role available and whether this matched the person’s career path. I would definitely recommend the company to friends, family and professional connections based on the company culture, especially if the job available was a match for what they’re looking for. However,  I’d also say that a benefits package that’s more aligned to what’s on offer elsewhere in the industry would make you more attractive to work for.’

Wrong answer: ‘Only if I didn’t like them’

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What was your relationship like with your manager? 

Your manager can have the most significant influence on you during your time at the company, so your employer wants to hear about what he/she did well, not so well and areas you feel they could improve on. 

Again, honesty is always the best policy at an exit interview. However, keep it professional here. Turning your answer into a personal attack on your manager will only ever reflect poorly on you. 

Right answer: “I have a good relationship with my manager. She’s very knowledgeable, supportive and approachable. Our communication styles are a little different, she prefers email while I prefer to discuss things face-to-face, but we found a way to work around that.”

Wrong answer: ‘Do you want the whole list?’

How to: Deal with problems professionally


What qualifications or skills do you think we need to look for in your replacement? 

Your current employer may see this as an important question to ask as you’re the one who has been doing the job, so you know best what qualifications or skills your replacement should have. 

By understanding what skills were needed but not mentioned on the job description, or those that were listed but never used, your employer can gain a clearer picture of who their ideal candidate is and write an accurate job description to match.  

Right answer: ‘Good communication skills are essential in this role. Presenting feedback to senior management was one of my responsibilities, so speaking clearly and with clarity is an important skill to have. Mentioned in the job description was the ability to use the full suite of Microsoft apps, but as we changed systems, I feel this is no longer relevant.’ 

Wrong answer: Good luck replacing me…’

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