6 Reasons Employers Should Conduct Intern Exit Interviews and 12 Questions to Ask

An exit interview is a series of questions asked by employers at the conclusion of their employment or internship program. This interview can be held virtually, face-to-face, or as a survey through email. It’s a common best practice followed by companies when a full-time employee leaves their team, but it’s often an overlooked step in the intern offboarding process.

Exit interviews provide valuable information to an organization about the pros and cons of your internship or co-op program and give insights on how effective it was for your interns. Employers should ask no more than 12 questions to gain as much honest feedback as possible while keeping it short and sweet.

When creating your exit interview, be sure to let your interns know the purpose of these questions. Send the questions in advance so they have a chance to think about their overall experience in depth from start to finish, and encourage them to be as honest as possible so that you can effectively improve your program in the future.

Here are some valuable internship exit interview questions to ask:
1. What were you originally looking for in an internship?
2. Do you feel like your expectations were met?
3. What improvements could be made to our internship program?
4. What do you wish was different about your experience?
5. What was your favorite part about your internship?
6. How would you describe our company culture?
7. Did your mentor/supervisor give you the training and support you needed?
8. Did you get the chance to work with different teams and colleagues? Were they supportive and welcoming?
9. Do you feel like this internship better prepared you for your career?
10. Could you see yourself working for this company in the future?
11. Would you recommend this program to a friend looking for an internship?
12. What do you think was your single greatest accomplishment and #1 favorite project while working here?

Here’s what an exit interview can do for your organization:

Improve Internship Program ROI
Utilize data collected at the end of the internship to make adjustments that will strengthen your internship program and improve your ROI. Discover the projects and assignments your interns completed that were the most impactful for your company. Then understand how your interns felt while working on them. If it was enjoyable, and beneficial for their career, try to implement more of these projects into their daily work.

Another way exit interviews can improve internship ROI is by evaluating whether or not they’re becoming full-time employees. Intern to full-time employee conversion rates tell you how effective your organization was in finding new hires. If you didn’t offer interns a position with your company because of lack of productivity, or because you’re not a good fit for each other long-term, ask questions to understand why. What could your organization have done to better motivate them and make them more productive? How did your company values differ from their personal values? If you offered interns a full-time position and they turned it down, ask questions to help you understand why this happened as well. Did they have another offer lined up? Or did the position offered not fit their career goals?

Better Prepare Students for Their Career
Ask interns if they feel like their experience with your company better prepared them for their career. If they were able to expand their knowledge in different areas, add projects and assignments to their portfolio, and add new professionals to their network, you can consider this a win! If they feel like they’re leaving your organization in the same position they started, evaluate how you could better prepare interns in the future. Do they need more professional development opportunities? Do they need to shadow other team members to learn about different positions? Did they do impactful work or busy work? These questions will help you understand if you gave interns a step up in starting their career and how you can better help them in the future.

Gain a Unique Perspective of Your Company Culture
Understanding and considering the intern’s perspective of their experience within your organization will enable you to either make company-wide changes, or continue doing the things that make your culture so great. If interns provide vague answers for questions about your company culture, this may mean that you didn’t fully submerge your interns into your culture for them to gain the full experience. Did they partake in company-wide meetings? Did they join your team for happy hours or early morning coffee? Were there holiday parties or in-person events during their program?

Other ways they can evaluate your company culture is through team relationships, communication strategies, and working with leadership. You can ask follow-up questions to further understand their perspective on these areas.

Learn How to Exceed Their Expectations
Asking interns if their expectations were met is a great way to evaluate your internship description on job boards, the interview process, and the day-to-day tasks of your internship program. Many interns feel mislead by vague job postings and quick interview processes. Be sure to look over the description of your internship and ask interns if they feel it accurately describes their duties and responsibilities, and ask for suggestions on what you should add. Then evaluate their day-to-day responsibilities to see if the work they did for your company was valuable and impactful or mostly just busy work to fill their time. Understanding an intern’s expectations will enable you to recruit strong candidates for future positions.

Learn What Areas Need Improvement
Learn your interns least favorite parts of their experience, changes they would make, and implementation suggestions. This will help you and your team come up with new ideas to improve your program in the future. If multiple interns mention the same area, this should be your main focus to evaluate and adjust so future interns don’t report the same problems.

Need additional help? Have other tips? We’d love to talk! Our Intern Management System was built on best practices like these to simplify the management of your internship program so you can spend more time on strategy and building relationships with your team. Contact us today for a free demo.