The Exit Interview


You have tendered your resignation, created your transition plan, and made it through the final weeks of your current job.  The final hurdle to jump?  The exit interview.  While they may seem like a waste of time on the surface, exit interviews were designed as a powerful tool for continuous improvement. Whether it serves its purpose and offers your former employer valuable insight into the culture of their workplace or is just a formality, rests squarely on your shoulders. Read on for tips on how to ace the exit interview process. 

Prep it like a Job Interview

 Put as much preparation into your exit interview as you have for your pre-employment interviews.  While this seems counterintuitive, it will help you to maintain a level of professionalism while still addressing any issues that you would like to see resolved for future employees.  Take some time to reflect on your employment experiences and prepare a list of positives as well as negatives.  Think about ways you have grown as an employee, things you have learned, and how your former employer could foster those opportunities going forward as well as areas that could benefit from improvement. Here are some common exit interview questions to help you prepare for an interview: Why are you leaving? What were the best and worst parts of your job? How happy were you with things like salary, benefits, perks, time off, the office environment, etc.? How do you feel about your managers or supervisors? How do you feel about the support/training/feedback you received? How do you feel about your relationship with your coworkers? What recommendations do you have for the company on how to improve? Would you recommend this company to others? Why or why not? 

Keep it Professional

 Especially if you are leaving because you are not satisfied with your current employment, it can be tempting to use your exit interview as a vent session.  Keep in mind that the job market can be a small world and burning bridges to feel vindicated is likely short-sighted. While discussing areas for improvement, keep your feedback informative, have facts and specific instances to speak to, and keep your emotions clear of the conversation. Stay upbeat and positive but provide valuable insights and you will be remembered for your professionalism. Note:  This is not a time to discuss personality conflicts or personal issues with co-workers.  If the information is not actionable, leave it out of your conversation.  

Prepare Written Exit Notes

 Even in the most amicable of exit interviews, it is sometimes difficult to capture the information that is imparted and puts it at risk for getting lost in the shuffle.  To ensure that what you have to say has its best chance for making an impact, bring a written record of suggestions and thoughts to the interview.  While the exit interview was initially developed for employers, there is great benefit in the process for you as well.  View the interview as an exercise in reflection and an opportunity to assess what you have learned, areas you could improve, and solidify your job expectations in the future.  Prioritize preparation, treat your exit interview with as much importance as a job interview, and be professional in your tone and information.  You will ace your interview and leave with as good an impression as you came in with! 

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