Exit Interview Survival Guide

By   |   June 12th, 2015   |   0 Comments

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You’ve jumped through flaming hoops to find and apply to a new job opportunity.   Learned the art of contortion to successfully navigate the tangled web of candidate screening and interviewing. Launched yourself out of a flaming cannon when you notified your employer you landed a new job opportunity.   What death defying performance remains? Limber up for the tight rope – the exit interview.
What is an exit interview? An exit interview can be any form of questionnaire or dialogue to learn more about your experience as an employee at your current role within a company. It’s called an exit interview because these typically occur once you are exiting or leaving the company.
Why does it matter now – I’m leaving? It matters a lot! Maybe not for you, but for the company and the fellow co-workers you are leaving behind. This is a discovery opportunity for the company, to learn how to improve operations, culture, leadership, etc. Your feedback can help influence much needed change.

What’s the big deal – I can give them an earful? I say tight rope because it’s a fine line you walk when giving this feedback. You need to be honest and open to really make the process worthwhile for your past employer. What you don’t want to do is complain about everything you’ve ever experienced and rant aimlessly. Don’t burn a bridge as they say, but make your feedback effective and useful.
How do I approach this?


  • Get your thoughts together. Preparing for the exit interview is mostly thinking through and reflecting on your experience. You need to think objectively, what really matters. What experiences were critical in your decision to leave or had profound impact on you. It may be helpful to job down a few items that you feel are worthwhile to share, so you don’t lose track of what you want to communicate.
  • What details are critical to share? Certainly there are negative aspects of your employment experience, no company is perfect. You should however think through the details of your experiences and decide the points that matter most. You want your communication to be effective and pointed, not an elaborate story. There’s normally a good way to get your point across without exposing every detail. This does not always apply of course if illegal activities or violations of workplace policy have occurred, these may be important details that need to be shared.
  • Think about the positives too. This is a great chance to point out things the company did that were meaningful to you. Often time’s companies are not aware of the return on investment from programs, incentives, events, experiences and intangible perks. If you’d like to see those programs continue for the coworkers you are leaving behind, be sure to emphasize the importance of these and value you gained.
  • This is feedback, not revenge. This isn’t the time to incriminate your archrival in accounting just because you’ve never gotten along. Ask yourself, “Is this useful feedback or am I caught up in my own personal vendetta?” Consider those people that have been helpful or have gone above and beyond to help you succeed. Confidentially complimenting a fellow colleague or leader is a nice gesture and can potentially benefit those who’ve helped you.
  • Be prepared. This process can be lengthy or short, but don’t be surprised to be asked about items such as the work environment (morale, culture, structure), your job responsibilities, your expectations as an employee, communication, team dynamics, your supervisor, your understanding of policies, your satisfaction of compensation benefits, in addition to details about your new job.

Still trying to land you’re next job opportunity following an exit interview?  Check out our  YouTube video about interviewing to gain more insight! “Selling Yourself in an Interview.”

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