While we place a lot of importance on preparing for job interviews, we don't always give the same level of importance to exit interviews. While a job interview is the first impression you give to a potential employer, your exit interview is the last impression you will give to your employer, which is also impactful. So it's important to know how to handle an exit interview gracefully and professionally. Follow these exit interview tips to feel more prepared and confident.
What Is an Exit Interview?
An exit interview is a meeting between the employee who is leaving the company and a member of the human resources department or management. The purpose of an exit interview is to ask the employee about their experience at the company to learn more about their reasons for leaving and receive feedback about the organization, including office culture, management effectiveness and more. An exit interview could be in person, over the phone, or videoconference. Generally, an exit interview is conducted during the employee's last week at the company.
What to Expect in an Exit Interview
During an exit interview, you may be expected to provide specific feedback on your time with the company. If they ask these types of detailed questions, it allows them to improve aspects of their business, such as the hiring process and also manage employee turnover. Some companies may ask you to complete a written survey before the exit interview. This will allow them to review your feedback and ask additional questions during the meeting. Here are some common exit interview questions:
- Why are you leaving your position?
- What did you like most about your position?
- What did you like least about your position?
- If you could change one thing about working here, what would it be?
- Were you provided with the tools and resources to perform your job successfully?
- If not, what would have made things easier or more effective for you?
- What feedback can you provide about the potential for career growth here?
- What feedback can you provide about our training programs?
- What skills and qualifications are needed to fill your position?
The exit interview is also an opportunity for the company to let the employee know about their final payment, any benefits due and provide them with final paperwork and other pertinent information before leaving their job. You can expect to be provided with this information during your exit interview if you haven't received these details previously. And if you are not given this information, make sure to ask about it before your exit interview is over.
Things to Do During an Exit Interview
Are you wondering what to say during an exit interview? Prepare with the following tips:
Be professional. Remember that this is the last impression that you will leave the company with, so do your best to stay calm and collected. It isn't worth losing your professional reputation over an exit interview. To help you, practice your answers to the common exit interview questions above with a close friend, mentor or career coach.
Share your positive experiences. It's important to let the company know what they are doing right. Even if you hated your job, try to think of something positive from your experience with the company. Perhaps it was a skill you were able to develop, relationships you forged with your co-workers, or a project that you will always remember.
Be constructive with criticism. Instead of using the exit interview to vent your frustrations with management or your team, pick one or two items where you could provide comments that are constructive. For example, if you are frustrated because you were never given a promotion, don't limit yourself to stating the obvious. Instead, you could suggest that the company creates more opportunities for employee training and advancement.
Thank your interviewer. No matter your overall experience with the company, it's always a good gesture to thank the interviewer for their time and for giving you the opportunity to provide your feedback.
Things to Avoid Doing at an Exit Interview
During an exit interview, avoid the following:
Don't get overly emotional. If you are leaving due to a bad experience or burnout, it can be easy to respond to some of the exit interview questions emotionally. While it may feel good in the moment to let management know what you really think, this won't help your professional image in the long run. You may find it helpful to jot down some notes to take with you to the interview. Prepare exactly what you want to say in advance, and take a deep breath before answering the more difficult questions at the time.
Don't talk badly about your manager or co-workers. Speaking badly about those who are staying at the company won't get you very far. If anything, it only reflects poorly on you. And keep in mind that your answers during an exit interview aren't always confidential, so what you say might get back to others.
Don't burn bridges. You never know when you may need one of the connections that you have made at the company for a reference or referral. You also never know if you may end up working with former co-workers in some capacity in the future.
Don't answer if it makes you uncomfortable. You aren't obligated to answer all of the questions during an exit interview. If there is a certain question that makes you feel uncomfortable, respectfully decline to answer
Remember that even at the tail end of your tenure with a company, you're still a professional and should carry yourself appropriately.