Wednesday, June 19, 2024

What Not To Say In An Exit Interview

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Are Exit Interviews Required Guide To Exit Interviews With Tips To Accept Or Decline

Exit Interview Tips (DO NOT Do This)

When you voluntarily leave your job, you may be asked to participate in an exit interview. While exit interviews are encouraged, many professionals wonder if they are obligated to complete a meeting with human resource representatives or managers. Understanding your choices as an employee can help you decide how you will respond the next time you are asked to join an exit interview.

In this article, we explain if employees are required to participate in exit interviews, share what you can expect if you take part in an exit interview and offer tips for either accepting or declining an exit interview.

What Did You Like Best And Least About Your Job

This exit interview question will help you identify what might get future candidates excited about the role, as well as how to set the right expectations for the position. For example, if an exiting employee says they were unhappy with how often they had to travel, youll want to make sure the next hire is comfortable with frequent travel.

Why Are You Leaving Your Current Position

As you might guess, this is likely the key question that your employer wants answered during your exit interview. What the heck caused you to want to pack up your bags and go?

Youre asked this for a few different reasons. First, your employer wants to identify whether or not there was a single event that precipitated your departuresuch as a falling out with your manager or a co-worker. Secondly, he or shes hoping to determine if there are any shortcomings with the position that need to be resolved before bringing in a replacement.

Remember, one of a companys key goals is employee retention. And, your feedback is critical in helping to achieve that!

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Why You Should Trust My Advice

Having been an HR Investigator for two Fortune 500 companies, I have requested and handled many exit interviews and have seen firsthand how potentially risky they can be for the employee. Although I know how the exit interview can be a can of worms, asking for one and using the information gathered from it was part of my job.

Your Top Recommendations For Improvement

Best Exit Interview Questions

Identify the top one or two areas for improvement within the organization. These may also be the factors that would have kept you from leaving . These recommendations may include things like more flexible work options, more competitive compensation , a culture that is more welcoming of dissenting views, better upward feedback mechanisms, and so on.

Taking the time to share the information above can help focus the organizations improvement efforts. Good leaders make things better for others, and the exit interview is a small, but important, way to contribute to this aim.

  • Rebecca Zucker is an executive coach and a founding Partner at Next Step Partners, a boutique leadership development firm. Her clients include Amazon, Clorox, Morrison Foerster, the James Irvine Foundation, Skoll Foundation, and high-growth technology companies like DocuSign and Dropbox. You can follow her on Twitter: .

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What To Say In The Exit Interview So You Leave On A Good Note

Not every organization conducts exit interviews, but for many, they are standard procedure when an employee leaves. Employers hold exit interviews either in person, over the phone, or sometimes even by an online survey in order to get valuable feedback about an employees experience with their company and to gain deeper insights into things like company culture, work environment, morale, management performance or any other work-related issues the employee had.

If youre asked to participate in an exit interview, youll likely be asked some version of the following questions:

  • 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?

Since youre already on your way out , it can be tempting to just breeze through the exit interview without giving the process or your answers much thought. And you could be wondering: whats in it for you to put additional thought, time and care into this exercise?

Be Honest, But Not Bitter

Be Specific

Be Sure to Give Positive Feedback, Too

What To Expect At An Exit Interview

The format of an exit interview varies from company to company. You might fill out a written survey, have a face-to-face meeting or experience a combination of the two.

Typically, someone from human resources will conduct the interview. Your direct manager might also meet with youperhaps in a more informal setting, like a goodbye lunchto dig into your motivation for leaving.

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If Hr Ask You To Partake In An Exit Interview When You Quit A Job It’s Imperative That You Be Cordial And Professional

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When you quit a job, there’s a good chance HR will ask you to partake in an exit interview.

People tend to have mixed feelings about these conversations. Some say an exit interview is the ideal opportunity to be completely honest about your experiences with your employer and offer them critical and constructive feedback others argue it’s awkward and not worth the risk of burning bridges, as your criticism probably won’t inspire any significant changes, anyway.

But regardless of your attitude toward the exit interview, it’s imperative that you be cordial and professional.

What Did You Enjoy About Working Here

How to Handle the Exit Interview

Again, dont assume that everything not brought up in an exit interview is a positive or that the employee only has negative things to say about their experience. Asking this question will help understand your value as an employer.

Follow-up Questions to Ask

  • Which of your job responsibilities did you most enjoy?
  • What first attracted you to our company?

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‘this Company’s Pay Is Not Market

Don’t make it about money. “A statement about your compensation, even though it may be true, will be perceived as a negative slam against the company in your future career endeavors,” Taylor says.

Manciagli agrees: “Unless you have done a statistically sound market study, then you do not know if your pay was market-competitive.”

What Did You Like Most About Your Job

While the main goal of exit interviews is to get constructive feedback, that doesnt mean you wont have the opportunity to highlight any positives.

In a typical exit interview, youll be asked what aspects of your position you liked the most. Whether it was a particular job duty, your team members, or the weekly happy hours, your company wants to know what made you look forward to coming in each day. This knowledge helps your manager not only continue to expand on these positive attributes, but also play up the appealing traits when listing your position!

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How Well Your Job Was Structured And If You Had The Appropriate Tools To Succeed

To what extent was your job meaningful and motivating, allowing you to do the work you most enjoy? Did your manager create opportunities for you to use your strengths? Youll also want to share the extent to which you felt your manager supported you and helped clear obstacles, and whether you felt like you had had the appropriate resources to do your job well. These include things like budget, people, and other tools, such as the appropriate software to make your job easier.

What Prompted You To Begin Searching For Another Opportunity

15 things you should not say in your exit interview ...

Kick off the exit interview by asking the employee why theyre leaving. Are they relocating to a different area? Going back to school? Or do they feel that your company isnt the right fit? Their answer can help guide the discussion and spark ideas for follow-up questions.

This question can also help you determine which opportunities, benefits or perks your company could be offering to attract and retain top talent. For example, if you notice exiting employees often say theyre leaving because there wasnt enough opportunity for advancement, it could be a sign that managers arent properly addressing their employees career aspirations.

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Be Vague And Use Positive Language In Your Exit Interview

When I left my first job, I was frustrated and a little disillusioned. I didnt think my boss had helped me find opportunities I wanted, and I realized that my own performance didnt matter.

So I started looking for a new job in a new industry. I applied for two jobs and landed one pretty quickly. Adios, old job!

I gave notice and began ticking off the list of things I had to do before I left: wrap up open projects, say goodbye to friends and colleagues complete an online exit interview? Whats that? I looked it over and saw that the company wanted me to give them anonymous feedback about my experience and tell them why I was leaving.

Ah ha! Its ANONYMOUS?! The perfect opportunity to tell them how I really feel! Ill tell them all about this crummy assignment I had to do, and how my boss wouldnt give me any cool opportunities and Hmm. I wonder who will read this? To Google!

Google told me to cool my jetsthe exit interview is not the place to let off steam or, as my friend Rob would say, go out in a blaze of glory. So I backed off and gave some general feedbackhard to find interesting projects, considering a career change, that sort of thingwithout going into too much detail.

It wasnt very satisfying, but Google said it was the prudent thing to do.

On my last day, I stopped by my boss office to give him my badge and say goodbye.

How To Handle The Exit Interview From A Toxic Workplace Or Horrible Boss

Dont bad-mouth your company during the exit interview. They may have terrible rules & policies and ineffective managers that lead through fear. These issues are not your problem or concern any longer. Each boss you have will teach you something some are constructive lessons and some are negative lessons that help you recognize situations to avoid in the future.

Exit interviews led by HR are assembled together to look for overall trends and delivered to company executives to digest and possibly take action on. In reality, when leaders are so disconnected from widespread problems they are unlikely to respond effectively. The only way a company culture makes meaningful change is when leaders are engaged with their employees, which makes exit interviews unnecessary.

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What Did You Dislike Most About Your Job

Here it isthe flipside of the coin. Its time to share those not-so-great aspects of your position.

Maybe you hated having to coordinate the monthly board meeting. Perhaps your boss was a complete meddling micromanager. Or, maybe you think your entire department needs to be restructured in order to work more efficiently and effectively.

Nows your chance to be honest and share those complaints that you normally reserved for mutters under your breath and venting sessions over cocktails with friends.

Where Should An Employee Exit Interview Occur

Why You Should Never Do An Exit Interview When You Are Over 50

Meet on neutral ground. For example, in a separate meeting room. A one-on-one conversation with a colleague from the HR department should create a good atmosphere in which the employee can open up without feeling like they are being interrogated. Use an exit interview questionnaire to guide the discussion so that you can be sure to cover all the topics that you feel are relevant. Take notes on the employees answers.

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How Was Your Manager

Why they ask it: Theres a saying: People dont quit jobs. They quit managers. And this is exactly what HR is trying to find out. Did you quit because of your manager?

How to answer it: If your manager was fantastic, say so. Thats a time for open praise and honesty. If, however, you and your manager didnt get along, that could be a time to keep things more general. You can go with something like, We didnt always see eye-to-eye, but we managed to succeed on multiple projects.

Never Say Things In Inappropriate Or Vulgar Language:

Even more important than what you say, is the way in which you communicate your ideas. Just because you are leaving the company that certainly does not mean that you throw caution to the wind and just start speaking in a crude as well as unacceptable manner.

Even if your experience has not been pleasant in the company, you should try your best to leave on a happy note. This interview may not be carried out in a very formal manner, but you should give the individual his due respect. Believe it or not a bad word against you in the business world could cost you dearly.

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Never Use The Following Words During An Exit Interview


As your mother always said, Hate is a strong word. Its also an easy word to fall back on if you are harboring ill will against the company or soon-to-be ex-boss. Nonetheless, if you can bear providing useful feedback, dont use this word.

Go into the exit interview with a calm demeanor. Allow reason to reign rather than a propensity to seek any type of pay back. For the sake of your colleagues who continue to work at the organization, allow HR to gather information about why you are leaving.

Just as you do with job interviews, study potential questions they may ask and have thoughtful replies. A practiced answer is a non-emotional answer. Make it a goal to always maintain your respect and dignity.


John is the worst co-worker I have ever had. Sally is the worst supervisor on the face of the earth. Throughout human history, Katherine is by far the worst owner to ever have lived.

If you are trying to burn a bridge, feel free to start with the word worst, and watch how quickly things unravel. If you should ever need a reference , strike worst from your active vocabulary for the duration of the exit interview.

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You may feel that on questions is a wise decision, but it does not help the interviewer. It smacks of uncooperativeness and provides HR with a reason to think you are concealing some truth.

Once again, professionalism must be maintained during an exit interview. Pleading the fifth does not help anyone.


Reflect On Your Experience In Writing

FREE 8+ Sample Exit Interview Questionnaire Forms in MS ...

Its not always easy to wing a conversation, especially when you need to talk about something as difficult as why you chose to leave your company. Without proper structure, excessively harsh or critical statements might slip out, or you could forget something important you really wanted to bring up. To avoid something like this, its best to plan out in advance which items you want to cover.

I highly recommend writing down notes to plan what you want to say, advises Jude Miller-Burke, Ph.D., business psychologist and author. If you expect it to be highly charged, practice out loud. Reinforce to yourself that you will maintain boundaries and not succumb to your strong emotions.

Write a list of all the items you want to cover, including positive feedback, critical feedback and what you think the company can do to improve overall. You probably wont want to read off of this list verbatim in the meeting that could come off as a little stiff and impersonal just use it to help jog your memory around which topics to bring up and how to answer certain questions.

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Disadvantages Of Participating In An Exit Interview

Here are some disadvantages to completing an exit interview:

  • Benefits the employer more than the employee exiting the company
  • Doesn’t guarantee any changes will be made
  • Communicates Information that may not be used
  • Creates the possibility that your name may be connected to the information you shared

What Not To Say During An Exit Interview

Does anyone else consider the exit interview a strange practice?

Here you are in an interview and human resources is asking you questions about your time working for the company you are about to leave.

There is a likelihood you held many of the same opinions before you decided to leave, but for some reason HR waited until you declared you are leaving to ask you questions about your experience.

Until companies decide to hold interviews with employees who choose to stay, it is fair to say that the purpose of an exit interview is to gather potentially useful information that may shed light on making the organization a better place to work.

If you are the interviewee in an exit interview, remember there is probably little to gain but plenty to lose.

If your feelings about the job you are leaving are boiling over, vent outside the interview first. Especially if you believe you cannot control yourself and air dirty laundry. If you are afraid you are going to unload and take part in a scorched earth session, relieve these emotions with friends and family, well before the interview. Remove emotion and concentrate on facts.

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