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The Do’s and Don’ts of Exit Interviews

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When leaving a job, it is common for your employer, especially big companies, to reach out and schedule an exit interview. While some individuals may find this counterproductive, it’s actually an excellent way for companies to understand how they can improve the position you’re leaving and the company in general.

In fact, exit interviews can be an opportunity for you to help out future employees that will take your job. You can even use it to provide feedback and let your employers know why you decided to leave and move on.


What Is an Exit Interview?

An exit interview is a survey aimed at employees who are separating from the company, either by personal choice or dismissal. Supervisors use the information gathered in the interview to find and improve issues in the position and organization. Through this, they can learn what needs to change or remain so that the next employee can have a better experience and lower turnover.

For employees, exit interviews provide you with an opportunity to take a deeper look at your office culture, day-to-day processes, management solutions, and morale. This allows you to give feedback on your overall employee experience, so your organization can identify opportunities to improve engagement and retention.

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Why Is an Exit Interview Important?

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Companies that value and strive for employee satisfaction may want to know the reasons behind their employees’ resignations. By asking them questions, they can analyze the collected data to implement benchmarks and best practices that can help them create a plan to improve the organization and other factors that could contribute to the turnover rate.

Employee feedback is an excellent tool to help enhance a workplace. Hiring new employees is an expensive process, and companies will spend more money if the new employees resign early. That’s why understanding the reasons behind employees’ resignations can help them make actionable solutions that can help prevent such occurrences in the future.


What to Expect at an Exit Interview

Exit interviews vary depending on the organization. Some will only ask you to fill out a written survey, others will have face-to-face meetings or a call, and many will ask you to go through both.

In bigger companies, someone from human resources will conduct the interview. Smaller companies tend to skip this part. However, some will have your direct manager handle the interview right before leaving. During this meeting, expect questions centered on your overall experience with the organization and why you decided to go.

Below are some common questions asked in exit interviews and some pointers on how you can answer them gracefully.

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1. Why Are You Leaving?

This is probably the first question you’ll hear. When asked, don’t be shy and be honest about why you decided to resign. This helps the manager and organization determine if there are any internal problems and any particular event that has led you to your decision.

2. Did You Feel You Were Well-Equipped to Do Your Job?

The HR or your manager may ask this question to find out how to retain an employee. For example, does your company lack the appropriate equipment or software to be efficient and productive in your job? Let them know what could have made your job easier and more effective, so they can fix the problem as soon as they can.

3. How Would You Describe the Culture of Our Company?

This question gives you an opportunity to provide feedback on your overall experience of the company. The answer here is subjective, but managers can use this to identify common concerns and understand whether they are legitimate problems or just personal issues between colleagues.

4. What Could Have Been Done for You to Remain Employed Here?

This may sound too direct, but this question allows your employees to understand your situation. It may also sound like they’re trying to retain you as an employee, but most of the time, it intends to inform your direct supervisor how to handle several scenarios that could have triggered your resignation.

Exit Interview Do’s and Don’t’s

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Think of exit interviews as a way to help your organization. This survey can help your company improve in certain areas that you think they lack. However, it’s not an avenue for you to rant and air out negative comments about your coworkers.

This is still a professional interview, and you should try to keep it as one. With this in mind, here are some things that you should keep in mind during your exit interview:

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1. Prepare for Your Interview

Your exit interview is as important as your job interview. So be sure to come prepared for the meeting, be on time and professional, and dress appropriately.

Do: Make sure that you know how to positively explain your employment experience before your exit interview, even if the experience wasn’t pleasant. If you’d like to prove a point, bring any materials that could support it, such as records or emails.


Don’t: Wear casual attire or inappropriate clothes. This is a serious process, so make sure that you take it sincerely. An exit interview is a learning experience for you and the company.

2. Reflect on Your Experience

Most of the time, employers will ask you about your overall experience in the company. This is to access what policies are working and what don’t. When sharing your experience:

Do: Think about what you’ve learned during your employment. Share any experiences that have made you a better employee and why they happened. If you can remember, explain what helped this happen and how they can encourage similar situations. You can also mention people you work with and why you enjoyed working with them. Lastly, let them know if any circumstances could have been dealt with better, but make sure to explain them in a friendly manner.

Don’t: Focus on all your negative experiences. If you’ve had bad experiences with your supervisor or other teammates, don’t try to bad-mouth them. Instead, provide helpful insight on how they can improve.

3. Provide Facts

Rather than providing hearsay, ensure that you will only give facts that could support any claims you make. Exit interviews can only be effective if you provide them with measurable and provable facts.

Do: Give them details on why you chose to resign and suggest solutions. For example, if they are giving you tasks that are not in your job description, show them a contract or any document that details your position. This can help your employer understand how they can better support the role.

Don’t: Use the interview to complain. If you just keep talking about your frustrations without any proof, they won’t be able to improve and help the next employee. Learn how to control your emotions and leave personal issues behind.

Graceful Exit

Exit interviews are tremendously helpful for companies, as they can help them know why employees decide to leave. By being honest in your interview, you can provide them with invaluable information that could make your resignation beneficial.

Apart from the exit interview, you also need to ensure that you can hand over your job to the next employee.


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