How Exit Interviews Can Help With Employee Retention

Follow these exit interview best practices to make sure you’re getting the most actionable feedback from your outgoing employees

February 23, 2023
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How would you describe your job to a five year old?
What season would you be?
What is a weird food you have tried? Would you eat it again?
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Would you go in the mother-ship with aliens if they landed on Earth tomorrow?
What is your favorite season?
Do prefer working from home or the office?
What is your earliest memory of this job?
What is the best thing you have bought so far this year?
What is the earliest book you remember?
If you had to move to another country, which one would you choose?
You are the best criminal mastermind in the world. What crime would you commit if you knew you would get away with it?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
What was the last thing you ate?
What person from history would you add to Mount Rushmore?
What is a weird fact you know?
What is your favorite part of working from home?
Were the Spice Girls a good team?
Imagine you can instantly learn any language. Which would you choose?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Which fictional team is the best team of all time?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What do you usually eat for a quick lunch?
What simple food will you never eat?
Show us the weirdest thing you have in the room with you right now.
Would you rather stay at a hotel or an AirBNB?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
Are you more productive in the morning or at night?
Who is someone in your community that makes a difference?
Who was your most unique pet?
Choose one famous person from history you want on your team during a zombie apocalypse.
What is a good way to give back to the community?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
Is Hugh Grant funny?
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Would you want to have an imaginary friend today? Did you have one as a child?
What actor or actress would you want to play you in the movie about your life?
What is the best super power?
What is your New Years resolution?
You can only eat one food again for the rest of your life. What is it?
What is the best work holiday?
What is the first gift you remember receiving?
Would you rather join Metallica or Backstreet Boys?
What is the best example of a community you have seen?
What is an easy way to do something nice for someone?
Show us your phone background and tell the story behind why you picked this image.
What was your first job?
Pick any band to play at your funeral.
If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
Which superpower would you give to your arch enemy?
What is the most obscure superpower you would want?
What emoji best describes how you are feeling right now?
If you could live in any country, which country would you pick?
Would you rather live in a city or a town?
What is your favorite holiday?
What is something you accomplished as part of a team?
What is your standard office lunch?
What is your most used phone app?
What is your favorite season?
Have you ever won something as a team?
Imagine you are a professional baseball player. What is your introduction song?
Beach holiday or ski trip?
Have you ever been to a funny comedy show?
Would you rather live at the North Pole or the South Pole?
What is your favorite song to sing?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Imagine you could teleport anywhere. Where would you go right now?
What is the most unusual job you have heard of?
What was the last thing you ate?
You can visit any fictional time or place. Which would you pick?
What do your family and friends think you do all day?
What movie do you wish you could watch again for the first time?
Show us your most-used emoji.
What was the most unique style or fashion trend you ever embraced?
What movie defined your generation?
You are stranded on a remote desert island. Are you alone or with your worst enemy?
What is your favorite knock-knock joke?
Have you ever told someone Santa is not real?
Do you know how to speak more than one language?
On a scale of 1 – 10, how much of a team player are you?
What is your #1 recommendation in this city?
What is your favorite holiday?
What bucket list item do you most want to check off in the next six months?
What is your favorite mythical creature?
What was the first way you made money?
If you could be great at any Olympic sport, which would it be?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
When did you start liking/hating mushrooms?
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Do you take your PTO all at one time, or another way?
Which show do you remember most from your childhood?
Which beverage goes best with pizza?
Would you want to have a personal assistant follow you around everywhere and do what you asked of them?
Have you ever met your idol?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Would you rather live 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future?
What is your hobby?
When you are alone in the car, what volume is the music at?
Imagine you no longer have to work. How would you spend a Tuesday?
What is your favorite type of sandwich?

Once an employee has handed in their notice and is on their way out the door, they’re usually a lot more willing to be open about what they didn’t like about their job.

And while that honest feedback can be hard to hear, it’s also some of the most valuable you can get when it comes to preventing employee turnover and absenteeism.

Follow these exit interview best practices to make sure you’re getting the most from one of the most powerful tools in the Human Resources toolbox when it comes to increasing employee retention.

How do exit interviews reduce turnover?

Employee exit interviews are so effective because they help your company overcome what’s known as “the iceberg of ignorance”.

“The iceberg of ignorance” is the idea that because senior leaders are removed from their organizations’ day-to-day operations, they only see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the problems it faces. Researcher Sidney Yoshida even quantified how many problems the average executive team is aware of at just 4%.

On the other hand, a business’s front-line employees are collectively aware of 100% of its problems, since they’re the ones dealing with them. And some well-chosen employee exit interview questions will go a long way to revealing a lot more of that iceberg to your leaders.

They’ll help you unearth if your people are leaving because of:

  • Bad pay or benefits.
  • Lack of career opportunities.
  • Unfulfilling work.
  • Lack of mental health support.
  • A bad manager.
  • A toxic company culture.
  • A toxic teammate.

Once you know what’s driving your people out of your business, you can address those issues – and improve your company culture, employee engagement, and retention rates.

And when your employees see their leaders are willing to fix the problems that get flagged in exit interviews, they’re more likely to open up about them before they’re on their way out in pulse surveys and one-to-ones.

What to say in an exit interview?

These are the employee exit interview questions to ask to get actionable feedback from your outgoing employees:

How reasonable was your workload?

Overworking your employees is a surefire way to drive them out the door. In fact, 10% of HR leaders blame employee burnout for causing more than half of the turnover in their organization. And a massive 77% of workers say they’ve experienced employee burnout at their current job – with more than half saying they’ve felt burned out more than once.

If burnout is a big driver behind the voluntary turnover in your business then you need to fix it – fast. Asking your outgoing teammates if they felt overworked in their role will help you spot the problem early and change course before it drives more talented teammates out the door.

Book a demo of Assembly today to see how easy it can make tracking burnout across your business

Which of our benefits did you take advantage of?

Strong benefits can help you attract and retain employees. And a great way to get to the bottom of which benefits your people care most about is by asking outgoing teammates which they actually use. Then you can improve your benefits package by simply doubling down on which ones people make use of and replacing the ones people don’t.

Was there a specific event or person involved with your decision to leave?

82% of people have thought about quitting a job because of a bad manager. And this question will help you get to the bottom of whether that’s why a teammate quit – and if there was a particular straw that broke the camel’s back.

If employees are resigning because of a specific person you need to take immediate action. Managers driving talented employees out of your business need to be provided with training, shifted into a role that suits them better, or let go. And you need to handle toxic employees fast before they alienate more of their teammates.

How fairly do you think this company treats all of its employees?

Your company culture will seriously suffer if your employees are left feeling like there’s “one rule for them and another for us” or your company’s leaders “talk the talk but don’t walk the walk”. And your top performers might choose to leave if they feel like leaders don’t deal with toxic teammates that impact how much they enjoy coming into work each day.

You can get to the bottom of this by asking if exiting employees feel like your company treats everyone equally – no matter what their job title is. Encourage them to be honest if they feel certain individuals got preferential treatment or were discriminated against.

Could we have done anything more to help support you achieve your career goals?

41% of people have quit a job because it wasn’t providing them with enough progression opportunities. So, it’s crucial that you check if this was what drove each of your outgoing employees out the door.

If you’re regularly being told that people are jumping ship because they feel like they’ve hit a glass ceiling in your company you need to take this seriously. Restructuring teams or departments to redistribute responsibility to those who are keen to take it on is a great way of retaining top talent. And if a lot of your people are leaving because they feel like they’re stagnating, then every dollar you spend on a learning and development strategy is bound to have a huge return on investment.

Try Assembly to get all the tools you need to support each of your employees’ career goals and objectives in one place

What are you getting from your new job you weren’t getting in this one?

Exit interviews are a great chance to see how the pay, benefits, and progression opportunities you were giving outgoing employees stacks up against the company they’re leaving for. If you spot trends in where you’re falling short across multiple exit interviews then you’ll know exactly what you need to change to keep your current teammates around – and make your job descriptions more appealing.

What tasks did you enjoy doing as part of your job – and which did you not like?

Employee engagement and staff retention go hand in hand. But since “engagement” isn’t a concrete and easily quantifiable metric, it can be hard to get a feel for just how engaged your people are. While running regular engagement surveys certainly helps, your teammates might be guarded about what they’re willing to say while they’re still your employee.

Your outgoing employees, on the other hand, are a lot more likely to be open about what parts of their job they don’t enjoy. While they might – understandably – feel uncomfortable criticizing individuals who’ve led to them leaving your ranks, they’re a lot more likely to be candid about the bad parts of the work itself. Asking them what tasks they did – and didn’t – like doing as part of their job will give you invaluable information when it comes to making sure you’re giving the teammates they’ve left behind interesting and engaging work.

Book a demo of Assembly to make tracking employee engagement a lot easier

How flexible do you think we are as a company?

Flexible working options are a priority for a lot of talented and ambitious employees in 2023. In fact, 71% of employees open to looking for a job aren’t happy with how flexible their current organization is willing to be.

With this in mind, it’s well worth asking your outgoing teammates how rigid they think your working policies are. Since 75% of workers would make flexibility the deciding factor between two jobs with identical pay, loosening up prescriptive work policies that don’t suit all your employees’ lives could help you attract and retain the best workers.

The best way to start is with the valuable information you can find in this exit interview template:

The final word

Follow these interview tips to walk away from each one with actionable feedback that can help you boost retention rates across your business – and transform your company into a go-to destination for future employees.

Just don’t make the mistake of waiting until an employee is on their way out before you ask for their constructive feedback on how you run your business. Stay interviews, performance reviews, and well-chosen one-to-one meeting questions all help you understand what your employees do and don’t like about their jobs before they’ve handed in their notice. So, be sure to bake those into your employee retention strategy as well for the best results.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

Could find the answer you are looking for?

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