How to handle an exit interview

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We spend most of our time talking about ideas and trends to help you LAND a job. But once you land that job, there is always a transition involved. And one part of that transition is closing the door on your old gig.

Many employers ask departing part-time and full-time workers to participate in an exit interview.  Exit interviews are done in a number of ways and in a number of formats.

  • In most cases, a member of the HR team at the company will conduct or moderate the interview. This allows workers to talk candidly about managers, supervisors and co-workers.
  • The interview may take place face-to-face. The moderator may also have the departing employee complete a survey on paper or in an online format.
  • Exit interviews are generally held prior to the last day of work for the departing employee. Many employees, however, experience significant distractions, emotional upheaval and a lot of stress during their last week at work. As a result, some companies are administering their exit interviews a few weeks or months after the termination date. The idea is that the former employee will be more likely to give clear, constructive feedback.

Exit interviews can be a somewhat mysterious concept for many workers, especially if you have never been involved in one. Here are some things to remember when you are asked to participate in one.

Put it in writing.  If you have feedback that you think your company would benefit from hearing, put it into words and put it on paper before the interview.  Though good companies encourage feedback and discussion, you may feel uncomfortable or nervous speaking about your ideas. Give the interviewer a detailed outline of your feedback or your ideas.  Clearly communicating your constructive criticism or ideas for the future makes it far likelier for the company to implement those ideas.

Stick to the important points. Many people make the same mistake when they are invited to an exit interview: They view the interview as an invitation to rant about everything that they ever disliked at work. Talking about challenges to job performance or a lack of communication with your manager is valued feedback. But writing a four-page essay about the fact that the company did not give you free parking or that your co-worker chews gum too loudly? Not so much. Those comments are unlikely to have any impact. Try not to let any conflicts with co-workers or little irritants overwhelm the big picture.

Know where it goes. It may be YOUR exit interview, but make sure you ask the HR staff who will see your comments. Generally, comments are shared with your direct supervisors or managers. But depending on the company, your comments may go all the way to the top. Your comments or ideas should be tailored accordingly. Make sure any issues or concerns are clearly understood without burning any bridges.  

Have no fear. There are times when people leave a job because they absolutely have to for their happiness or sanity. The work environment has become incredibly toxic, or conflict with a manager or co-worker becomes too much to bear.

You should not be afraid to tell your soon-to-be-former company if their practices or procedures played a part in your departure. As much as we believe the people in charge know it all, upper management is not always aware of conflicts or issues. And they ARE concerned about what happens; they want employees to be productive and content in their jobs. It is also far more expensive for a company to train a new employee than to retain an existing one, so companies appreciate frank discussion about what might be causing turnover.

One Comment
  1. When I want cry,because in my work is too much drama,I am housekeeper of the hospital: because I am hispanic and my English is not good enough,the nurses take advantage, I try to ignore them and smily as idiot, as never hear their loud and demanding voices, and sing inside me the most beautyful songs thay I remember in my lanjuaje.Aleluya!

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