What to Expect from an Exit Interview

If you have decided to quit your job, the exit interview probably isn’t the first thing on your mind. But at some point, you might find yourself needing to prepare for one, as an exit interview is a standard part of the offboarding process at many companies today. Exit interviews can provide employees with a great opportunity to make sure that their voice is heard, but preparing for an exit interview can also be nerve-racking – after all, what if your employer doesn’t like what you have to say? However, the good news is that when you know how to handle your exit interview correctly, they can put you at ease during the process of leaving your job, provide you with closure, help you move onto your next opportunity, and give your employer feedback to work with when it comes to improving the company in the future.  

What Does an Exit Interview Involve?

An exit interview is a conversation with your manager or the HR department that is usually scheduled to take place shortly before your last day or on your last day. It is generally an opportunity to talk about why you have decided to leave and any feedback that you think the company might benefit from them. They are mostly for the benefit of the employer, helping them to get feedback and information based on the employee’s experience that they can use in the future to help encourage other employees to stick around. While it’s not a chance to rant or air all your grievances with the employer, you can use it as an opportunity to provide professional feedback on what you believe could be improved. 

Preparing for Your Exit Interview

Before heading into your exit interview, it’s important to be prepared. Winging a conversation is not always easy, especially if you are talking about a difficult topic such as why you decided to hand in your notice and leave your job. If you don’t have a structure to follow during the conversion, you might forget something important that you wanted to say, or accidentally say something that is overly critical or harsh. To avoid these situations, it’s a good idea to plan what you want to cover in advance. One good way to do this is to write down some notes on what you want to say. Practice out loud if you have a lot of issues and expect the interview to be highly charged; this will help you get what you want to say out without causing any problems. Don’t forget to include some positive feedback, too. 

Common Exit Interview Questions

Before going for an exit interview, it’s good to have a clear idea of the type of questions that you might be asked during the conversation and prepare yourself for how you are going to answer them. Bear in mind that exit interview questions are usually asked to benefit the employer, so the more detailed feedback you can provide, the better. Check out some of the common exit interview questions on Placement. Placement’s guide to exit interview questions is designed to help you make sure that you are fully prepared for the process and what to expect. You can also find more job-related guides and advice, along with job postings, on their website. 

Some commonly asked questions include:

  • Why did you start looking for a new job?
  • What ultimately led you to leave this job and accept a new one?
  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • Did you feel that you had the necessary resources to do your job well?
  • Did you receive constructed feedback to help you perform better at your job?
  • Were you satisfied with management?
  • If you had any concerns regarding the company, did you share these with anybody prior to deciding to leave?
  • Could anything have been done to change your mind about leaving?
  • Did you have clear goals and objectives to meet in your job?
  • If you could change anything about the company or your position, what would it be?
  • How can the company improve development and training programs?
  • Would you consider coming back to work here in the future?

How to Answer Exit Interview Questions

The answers that you give to the exit interview questions will depend largely on your circumstances. You may not always be leaving a job because of a bad experience there; perhaps you are planning to move to a different area or have simply found a better-paid opportunity that will help you get further in your career. No matter your circumstances or the answers that you want to give, keep the following in mind:

Be Specific with the Positives

Get as detailed as possible when it comes to sharing what you liked about your job and the company. Be specific when it comes to processes and people that made your work experience a positive one. Not only is this positive for your employer to hear, but it can also be very helpful to learn more about what is working well so that they can make sure it continues. Chances are that even if you have had a largely negative experience working for the company, there are a couple of positives that you can share. 

Be More General with Negatives

While the idea of an exit interview is to find out where there is room for improvement with policies and processes, it’s wise to be more general with the negatives, rather than throwing people under the bus. For example, if you felt that your workload was too high, or that managers need more training, then express this with constructive feedback, but avoid going on rants about managers or colleagues that you didn’t get on with. 

Express Gratitude

Finally, be sure to thank the person that you have had the conversation with for taking the time to hear your feedback and recommendations. There’s nothing wrong with using the end of the interview to wrap up by thanking them for the opportunity you’ve had with them and mentioning something positive about the company and your experience, as this will end on a good note and can help you get a better reference. 

Going for an exit interview can seem intimidating, but it is a great way to share feedback about your experience and continue a strong relationship with the company even after you leave.

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