1) Why Did You Start Looking For Another Job?
The answers you get to this question will be as unique and the individuals who give them. That’s because everyone starts looking to switch jobs for different reasons. The important insight comes over time when you start to detect common themes in the answers.
2) Why Are You Leaving?
Some may see these first two questions as the same, but they’re actually very different. Your employee may have started looking to switch jobs for one reason. But she may have made the final decision for a host of other reasons.
These two questions help you determine everything that prompted her to leave—from initial dissatisfaction to the final straw that broke the camel’s back.
3) What Does Your New Position Offer That Influenced Your Decision To Leave?
The answer to this question will indicate the specifics of where your company is lacking. It could be company culture. It could be pay or benefits. It could be lack of flexibility. It could be any number of things.
The important thing to remember is that the information the outgoing employee provides can be used to pick up the slack where your company has fallen short.
4) What Could We Have Done Better?
Again, this may seem similar to question three, but the answer explores a different side of the issue. Say, for example, that an employee responded to question three with, “more professional development opportunities.” That answer insinuates that the number of opportunities is important.
But when asked question number four, he may offer this advice: “Actively promote professional development and motivate employees to reach out.” So maybe it’s not the number of opportunities you offer, but the promotion of those opportunities that is the real key. Asking both questions in tandem can reveal these finer points.
5) Would You Ever Consider Returning To This Company?
Be prepared for a yes or no answer to this question, but probe a little deeper by asking a follow-up question like, “What circumstances would change your mind?” View those answers as a way to improve retention and keep key positions filled.
6) What Could We Have Done To Keep You Here?
This question will often tease out more reasons why the employee felt dissatisfied with her job and started looking for another. Because you are asking a very direct question, you may get a series of direct answers. But that can be very valuable.
Answers like more pay, more benefits, more advancement, can reveal a lot when you correlate them with the employee’s term at your company. If she received regular raises but was still dissatisfied with her pay, maybe the raises need to more frequent.
7) Did You Feel Equipped To Do The Job Here?
Asking this question gives you direct insight into how to train new employees. It can even help you understand how to retrain your existing employees.
You may receive straight answers that make you feel uncomfortable (no one likes to be confronted with their failures), but you’ll also receive actionable information with which you can make immediate changes.
8) Were You Comfortable Talking To Your Manager?
The unique thing about this question is that it reveals details about two individuals—the outgoing employee and the manager.
First and foremost, you can use the information you glean from the employee’s answer to improve the performance and development of the manager who still works for your company. Second, you can use the information to help in finding a new employee for the team.
9) What Things Could Your Manager Have Done Better?
Questions four and six deal more with the company as a whole. Question nine helps you dig into the specific things the employee’s manager could have done better. This question helps you peel back the layers to see what’s going on in the trenches.
10) How Would You Describe Our Company Culture?
What you’re looking for with this question isn’t a specific example but, rather, the overall trend that your outgoing employees identify. You may get some outliers (e.g., answers from employees who are emotional or who have a bad opinion of the business), but, over time, you’ll start to see your company culture.
For example, if you have 50 employees who say that the company culture is open and honest (or words to that effect) and 10 employees who say that it is something else, that gives you a fairly accurate idea of how your business is perceived.