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Top Tips For Surviving An Exit Interview

Published: Monday 28th October 2019

Your comprehensive exit interview survival guide

Leaving a job often comes with mixed emotions depending on the underlying reasons why you’re moving on. When handing in your notice of resignation, there’s a good chance HR will ask you to take part in an exit interview. However, people tend to have mixed feelings about these conversations, leaving departing employees stressed and unsure of how to navigate an exit interview. Truth be told exit interviews can be tricky. But this doesn’t need to be an anxiety-inducing experience. By making sure you know what you’re in for, this can be productive for both you and your employer, and give you closure to leave on a professional note without burning bridges.

partial view of recruiter holding pen near notebook with exit interview checklist lettering

What is an exit interview?

Many employers conduct exit interviews with staff who are leaving, particularly “high profile” or “high visibility” employees. So what is the point of it? The idea is that people feel less inhibited to give the company honest feedback and, in turn, the company can benefit from learning about the reasons behind employee turnover. While some people say an exit interview is the ideal opportunity to be completely honest about your experiences with your employer and offer them constructive feedback, others argue it’s awkward and not worth the risk of burning bridges, as the criticism isn’t likely to inspire any significant changes. So, how do you tackle this process professionally and balance your honesty in a productive way?

Photo of light bulbs with shining fibres in ETHICS, RESPECT, HONESTY and INTEGRITY

Here is your complete guide with 5 top tips to follow in your next exit interview. Whether it’s your first one or your tenth, brushing up on your skills never hurts…

1. Decide what you want to get out of it

Before you go into the room, decide what you really want to get out of this meeting and stick to it. Take a moment to reflect on your tenure with the company. Ensure you come prepared with a number of questions you might have as possible topics to raise in the discussion.

2. Be prepared and plan ahead

Work through your emotions in advance and think of possible questions you may be asked. Speaking to a trusted, objective third party about issues you may have had, can help you find the right words to bring them up in a way that’s of service to the company. This will help you to privately vent any strong emotions by turning pent-up frustration into constructive feedback. By framing your opinions to demonstrate you’re thinking about what’s best for the company, you’ll have a far greater chance of having a real influence and of being remembered well without saying something you may regret.

closeup. handshake business partners after bargain

3. Exit with grace by focusing on the positives

If you’re too candid and critical, you’ll come across as being bitter or out to damage someone. But the goal is to provide non-emotional feedback. You don’t want to rail. Be sure to say how much you learned there and why you benefited from your time as an employee.

4. Give fact-based answers

Make sure your comments are fact-based and professional. Mention what you liked about your job and the company and what you would change if you could. Keep it simple and precise. Companies do want to learn how to improve workplace culture and keep employees more engaged. Even, if you’re leaving for a certain company or a better salary, that’s good information too. Employers love competitive data, even if it doesn’t make them look great.

Serious attentive african hr manager listening to caucasian candidate at exit interview

5. Be cautious when discussing your resignation with others

Consider carefully, what information you are sharing with others. Be sure not to disparage the company and be mindful of what you put on social media. Instead of throwing people under the bus, toss out ideas about how the company might improve based on your experience. After all, you never know when you might cross paths with a former teammate or boss again.

An exit interview is really nothing to stress over. Think of it as your chance to have a valuable, cathartic discussion about the ins and outs of the position you’re leaving. And, if you do need some additional help with starting over with a new job, head over to Zoek and search from over 180,000 UK job vacancies.

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