How to Achieve Higher Completion Rates for Online Surveys

These three considerations make a big impact on completion rates.

Employers today are more and more attracted to data to make informed decisions. Still, data can be misleading, especially when it is incomplete. If, for example, an employer only captures data from disgruntled employees, they may have a false sense of the culture. Employers must aim to achieve the highest completion rates possible when sending online exit surveys or they risk making management decisions based on incomplete data. In our experience, keeping these three factors in mind when developing and dispersing an exit survey will yield more complete data and better retention insights.


Strike while the iron is hot. Over time, former employees will forget the cumulative reasons that caused them to leave their (now-previous) position or company. Or they may simply move on to a new company and forget about their old employer. To reach the root of the issue, it is important to notify the exiting employee within the first two weeks of an employee’s exit. When possible, providing employees with the option of completing the exit interview before or after the exit data, leads to higher completions. The longer employers wait to notify exiting employees of the exit interview, the higher chance that the employee will have decreased interest in completing this important step in the exit process.


To increase your chances of getting a response, do your best to obtain accurate personal contact information with multiple notification approaches. If possible, collect both a personal email address and phone numbers. This not only increases your chances of reaching the person, but also allows exiting employees to use their preferred method. Texting may be a violation of privacy laws that require permission first by the employee, which is difficult to obtain since the employee is no longer working with the former employer. All notifications to complete the interview should include assurances of privacy compliance. Exit interview participants especially like the option of permitting or not permitting their name to be released with the interview. Secure, confidential information is of high importance to respondents.

Multiple channels for response are also important. The workforce remains multi-generational, so surveys that can be completed via several methods—e.g. phone, computer or mobile device, and even paper—show higher completion rates. If you can meet the employee where they are and remove possible barriers to entry, you will see better results.

Exit interview recipients should be contacted frequently over a span of six to eight weeks using email reminders, numerous phone attempts, voice messaging, and allowing the phone interviewer to be contacted directly.

Focused Questions

The person filling out your survey is voluntarily giving you their time and information, so be direct and stick to exit-focused questions. Ask questions related to employer influenced turnover causes with prompts for explaining the reason behind the selection. Letting the employee “tell their story” about why they left and what could have occurred to prevent it should be the interview’s focus. Too many exit interviews mirror an engagement survey which doesn’t pinpoint why the person left. Irrelevant questions and too many questions bother respondents, who then stop the survey before it is completed. With open-ended but direct, well-researched interview questions, results may be viewed alongside our ExitRight norms.

Best Practices

From ExitRight’s experience contacting 1,100,000 exit names, completion rates of 55-65% are the norm when both web and phone interview options, with personal email availability, high phone accuracy, and continuous contact attempts occur over a span of several months.

Online exit surveys help eliminate the discomfort that can occur in a face-to-face interview with a former employer. To achieve the highest completion rates possible, it is essential that employers use effective methods that make the best use of both parties’ time. Let us show you how you can make new strides in retention through the ExitRight process. Would you like to learn more? Contact us today to connect with our survey and exit interview experts!