How to Ace an Exit Interview

 
 

They say that when one door closes, another one opens. When it comes to your career, you might close the door yourself in pursuit of a new opportunity. Job hunting is quite the process and the feeling of accepting a job offer for a new position can be bittersweet. On one hand it’s exciting to move on to a new role and begin a new chapter of your life, but on the other hand leaving behind coworkers and a role that you’ve become accustomed to is sad and a bit scary.

After you submit your resignation and finish up your last two weeks on the job, it’s not uncommon to go through an exit interview leading up to your last day. Some people absolutely dread exit interviews, but they don't have to be something to fret about. 

As long as you think about these things leading up to your exit interview and keep them in mind during the actual interview, I promise you'll walk out alive (well, you'd walk out alive no matter what). 

Provide constructive feedback on your experience with the company (your role, observations, etc.)
The main purpose of an exit interview is for your HR department or supervisor to understand the reason for your departure from the company. They most likely want to know what you liked about your job, what you disliked about your job and areas they can improve in as a business. Take time during your exit interview to provide feedback on your time at the company. Did you feel that they offered good benefits? Did you feel that the company could have been more generous with paid time off? While you’re providing feedback, touch on your role within the company as well.

Give examples of traits that the person who would be filling your position would need
Does the job that you held require excellent time management skills? Will the company need to hire someone who is a stellar writer and communicator? Carve out some time in your exit interview to bring HR up to speed on what skills you felt mattered most in your position. Discussing these things will help HR out as they search for a candidate to take your spot. This is a great time to be honest and explain your daily responsibilities and tasks. Sure, your supervisor could help HR fill in these blanks, but you know your job best! If you had good performance reviews and consistently received positive feedback from your boss, don’t be afraid to share what it was like to work in your position day to day.

Don’t bash your team members
Maybe you got along with all your colleagues and maybe you didn’t. No matter what the case was or is, it’s best to reserve your negative comments for another time. If you need to, vent to a friend before heading into your exit interview to get everything off your chest. If you experienced or noticed some things that were concerning during your time at the company, an exit interview is a great time to bring those concerns to the light.
Believe it or not, lots of people are connected in the working world and although some industries seem big, they’re actually small. You may cross paths with someone you worked with again and you never want to burn a bridge if it’s not necessary. So, my advice is to refrain from bashing your team members and playing the he said/she said game.

Don’t overshare information about your new job
Sharing details about your new gig is exciting and you probably want to shout about it from the rooftops. That’s great, but keep the conversations about your new job between family and friends. If asked to disclose your new salary, you can politely decline and explain that it’s personal/confidential. The company you’re leaving should have a pulse on the industry and what people with your experience and skill set should be paid. It’s not your job to let them know how to benchmark salary ranges – they can research themselves. If salary played a part in your departure from the company, you can be honest about that and explain that you’re being paid more in your new role and that it was a big motivation to cause you to look elsewhere from employment.

Turn in all devices and documents
After submitting your resignation and letting your supervisor know that you’ll be moving on to a new position, you’ll probably spend your last few days at the company wrapping up your projects and tasks. You may be asked to keep an archive of your files so that whoever replaces you has access to them and can pick up where you left off. If you’re feeling extra helpful, you might even type up a document explaining where you saved documents and files on a shared network. In terms of your devices, if you had a company laptop or cell phone, be prepared to clean up your files on hand it in.

Have you ever participated in an exit interview? How did it go? Let me know in the comment section below!