What is an Exit Interview?
Exit interviews are very interesting, indeed. For those who are not familiar, exit interviews are held with an employee who is about to leave an organization, and is typically conducted with an HR professional and/or your boss to discuss the employee’s reasons for leaving and their experience of working for the company.
Should I Go To My Exit Interview?
When it comes to exit interviews, many professionals (even HR and Career Coaches) are divided on whether or not an employee should attend one. I once recall a constructive conversation with another Career Coach over social media. He stated that he advised his clients to not attend an exit interview due to the negative politics that can happen afterwards. According to him, there was not much to gain from attending. If the company didn’t care enough in the beginning to address an employee’s concerns and help develop a solution, than they did not deserve the opportunity to understand in the final hours of employment. This could be true, but he also mentioned not attending the exit interview in order to avoid getting “verbally trashed around the water cooler, coffee station, and in meetings after they are no longer employed.
I respectfully disagreed.
This Is Your Opportunity:
My philosophy is that the exit interview is a BIG opportunity. I always suggest that my clients attend the exit interview; and here’s why. If whoever is attending your exit interview is someone who would speak negatively about you because of an exit interview at the water cooler, they are going to talk bad about you at the water cooler if you do an exit interview or not! It’s a losing battle!
What the other career coach and I did agree on is that exit interviews are FULL of politics. Most professionals have another job offer lined up from the company they are leaving so this is not an immediate concern, but down the road at a more senior role, you are vetted much more extensively. You never know when you might need to provide a name at that company for someone to call. People should try their best to maintain at least superficial relationships with their previous employers.
How Should You Approach Your Answers?
Be professional and give an honest appraisal of your experience at the organization, but re frame it at the end of each answer in a positive way. Say that although there were certain things that could have been better, you really appreciated the opportunity the company gave you to grow, and you ascertained some tremendous skills that you will be able to take with you. It is simply time for you to move onto the next adventure in your career, but you would love to stay in touch.
The exit interview is your last chance to ensure the bridge is still connected, so why not take advantage of it? It’s for YOUR future anyways! Remember that this is an opportunity and an investment of your time. I will invest 15 minutes of my time any day of the week to ensure that I’m set up for success for the next 15 years!