Farm Progress

You can get a lot of good feedback out of an exit interview.

Lori Culler, Blogger

April 15, 2016

3 Min Read

Are you open to receiving feedback from current employees?  If you create an open door policy, allowing employees to share feedback, you can address negative situations and make changes before an employee decides to leave. 

Related: Will employees stay or go?

However, this frequently doesn’t happen. Many employees fear retribution and therefore don’t share their concerns while they are still employed. They start looking elsewhere and you only realize there’s an issue when they put in their notice. 

In this situation, exit interviews are your only option. But on a positive note, exit interviews can be an extremely effective way to obtain open, honest feedback. Employers conduct exit interviews to gain information that can be used to make necessary improvements to aid retention and recruitment.   

The majority of agricultural organizations utilize exit interviews according to the most recent 2015-2016 Agribusiness HR Review; more than 80% of U.S. and Canadian agribusinesses conduct exit interviews.  You may be thinking that exit interviews are just for large corporations, but farms can find immense value in them as well.  Some organizations responding to the HR Review had as little as 10 or fewer employees.   

Related: 9 employee retention strategies that don't cost much


Exit interviews are given to employees that have given their notice but have not yet left the organization.  To obtain the most candid responses from employees that are leaving, have someone other than their immediate supervisor conduct the interview.  In a smaller organization, you may not have the opportunity for an outsider to conduct the interview, so it is important to stress that you are looking for constructive feedback.     

They are called ‘interviews’ because they are most likely conducted verbally in-person; however they can also be conducted via written or online surveys.  Some companies do both an in-person interview and a written questionnaire.  This is especially useful if there are some questions you feel employees might be hesitant to answer face-to-face, but would be more comfortable replying to in a written situation.

Sample Exit Interview Questions

-Why are you leaving?

-Did anything, in particular, impact your decision to leave?

-Did you address these concerns with a supervisor/manager prior to your decision to leave?

-How was your relationship with your supervisor?

-What did you like most about your position?

-What did you like least about your position?

-Were your job duties and responsibilities what you expected?

-What can we do to retain talented employees?

-Would you recommend our organization to family and friends?

-Were you satisfied with the benefits package we offered to you?

Always end the interview with an open-ended question to allow the employee to comment on anything else that is on their mind, such as “Is there anything else you would like to share with us?”  Thank the employee for their time and service to the company.  Let them know how their feedback will be used- hopefully to evaluate employee satisfaction and make necessary changes to improve the organization.  If the employee feels their concerns were heard, they may be more likely to spread positive word-of-mouth regarding the company.

Some of the most honest and priceless feedback comes from employees that are leaving the organization.  Although it is typically too late to save that employee, they can provide helpful information for you to consider improving the work environment for others.  Exit interviews can gather valuable insight into what employees were dissatisfied about during their tenure at your organization, and they are usually willing to be more forthcoming with information.   

Questions?  Contact [email protected]

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

About the Author(s)

Lori Culler


Lori Culler owns and manages AgProVise, a management consulting firm dedicated to providing leadership and direction to farms and agribusinesses focusing on business development, human capital strategies, organizational development and talent management. She also founded AgHires, a job board for the ag industry where employers can post open positions and candidates can apply to jobs. AgHires offers hybrid sourcing recruitment solutions to help clients find candidates. Lori’s family has a third-generation, 7,500 acre potato and grain farm with locations in Michigan and Indiana. Reach her at [email protected].

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