Ace the Exit Interview
There is a popular quote that speaks volumes, “The only bad thing about burning bridges is that the world is round.” An exit interview is the perfect opportunity to build bridges not to burn them, especially when you have had bad experiences in the workplace. And when you think about it, HR already knows the scoop about ineffective or difficult managers – they have heard it all before so there isn’t much you can say along that vein that will enlighten them or improve conditions within the organization. And what outgoing employees say in an exit interview has an uncanny way of finding its way back to the affected individuals. What goes around indeed comes around.
Rules to Follow for Exit Interviews
Remember that exit interviews are voluntary, but… You do not know what the future holds for you, and what role your present company will play in it, so you do not want to burn your bridges. If you experience strong, negative feelings about how you were treated, vent your anger in a letter addressed to the offending people, then burn it. The gesture is symbolic and powerful. Although exit interviews are voluntary, declining to participate may have “negative consequences.”
Prepare your answers before the exit interview. Typical questions asked: What is your main reason for leaving us?”, “How would you improve the department?” and “What does your new employer offer that we don’t?” When crafting your responses to those questions, keep it brief, focus on clarity and diplomacy, and keep your ego in check. List the job duties you enjoyed performing, and focus on those that helped you to improve your knowledge, skills and abilities. Also touch upon how the role can be improved going forward, based on your experiences.
Stay positive and don’t get personal. Do not talk negatively about your manager or coworkers, and stick to general facts. Use neutral, non-accusatory language to describe the work experience with your boss. In addition, if giving examples of situations, never use people’s names. Focus on the positive aspects of working for the company.
The HR Representative is not your friend. Even if you have a cordial relationship with the person who is conducting the exit interview, be cautious and careful about what you say because both of you have a specific role to play during the interview. All of the points listed above still apply.
If you keep in mind that an exit interview is not a venting session, and you follow the advice above, you will ace the exit interview and maintain cordial relationships with those you are leaving behind.