What is an Exit Interview and How Should You Prepare?

After finding a new career path and giving a resignation letter along with your notice, it’s time to prepare for the last and final step in the departing employee process — the exit interview.

If you’ve never experienced an exit interview before, it may sound somewhat intimidating; you may not know how to approach the conversation or what to expect. In this article, we’ll break it down for you so that you can go into the meeting confidently.

Why Are Exit Interviews Important?

The goal of exit interviews is to provide an opportunity for the exiting employee to provide unhindered feedback of the company. They can offer feedback on anything from company policies and culture to training and overall job satisfaction. By using this method as part of the offboarding process, both exiting employee and manager can create positive change inside the company for future employees. 

Types of Exit Interview Questions Asked

Here are just a few of the questions you can anticipate during a common exit interview:

  • “What about the work environment is effective for our team members, and what needs to be changed?”
  • “What changes would you make to our corporate culture?”
  • “If there are changes made, would you consider returning, either in the same role or a different one?”
  • “Can you give an example of a positive and negative takeaway from your time with our company?”
  • “What can we do to make this company better?”

Ponder your responses to these kinds of questions beforehand and start to develop answers which are both constructive and honest, but also tactful.

How to Leave a Good Impression

Being prepared is more than just knowing the questions to expect and the reason behind the exit interview process. It’s also about being professional in your feedback delivery. Depending on the reason for your new career move, keeping the emotions out of your answers and the interview process will keep the door open at your current job in case you’d ever want to return or use anyone there as a reference. 

Body language is important to be aware of during the exit interview process. Just like in the initial job interview, keeping good eye contact and a calm tone will allow for the constructive criticism to be heard. No matter what the career path has been with your current employer, leaving the exit interview on a positive note can be extremely beneficial to everyone involved. 

Avoid talking about other employees’ experiences and focus on your own experience at the company and how that has impacted your reasons for leaving. You can discuss your working conditions or the views of the current company, but keep it professional and pertaining to your employee satisfaction. 

How and When to Participate in an Exit Interview

Exit interviews can be held in person, over video call, or even be in writing. Typically, someone in Human Resources or a direct manager will conduct the interview. Sometimes even both departments will want to sit down and have their turn to ask questions. In other instances, the company might utilize an external consultant to sit down with you. This would be someone who is a third party and has no bias between the company and the employees. If the questions are in written form, then it could also be anonymous, if you chose, and be able to be submitted directly to the relevant parties. 

Timing is also crucial. As a future ex-employee, getting your time and feedback heard may not be a priority for some. If an exit interview is not discussed within the first couple days of resignation, ask for one. If possible, try to schedule the exit interview to be somewhere in the middle of the departure notice period. (For example, if it is a two week notice given, then try for either the end of the first week or very beginning of your last week to schedule.) That way, there can be a lot of fresh observations that may otherwise be clouded by the last couple days of employment or the freshness of giving notice. 

Employees leave companies every day in search of a better company culture or their own personal career development. Whatever your reason, the information gained from exit interviews will help current and future employees find their dream job, too. 

If you are looking for the next step in your career and have more questions about the job market or opportunities available to you, reach out to one of our recruiters to get you started on the next chapter of your career journey. You can also submit your resume or browse our job listings.  

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