Giving an Exit Interview
After long days of hard work and countless resume submissions, you finally achieved your goal: You landed a new job! You're officially on your way to the next chapter of your working life and the next rung of your ambitious career ladder. Once you give notice to your current employer, you'll have nothing left to do but celebrate, wait for your start date, and get ready to roll over your 401K.
You enjoyed a few things about your old job and didn't enjoy a few other things, but despite the difficulty of saying goodbye to your old friends, you're—to be honest—starting to forget the place already. Even though your rear end is still in your chair, your heart has already left the building. So when you're asked to complete an exit interview before you step out the door, how should you respond? Should you be negative or positive? Should you be honest or vague? Should you prioritize diplomacy or truth? Here are a few exit interview tips that can help both you and your previous employers grow over the long term.
1. If they were terrible, help them improve.
You can't STAND your previous employers; that's why you're leaving. You've been driven out the door by their endless micromanagement, their nickel-and-diming behavior during every salary negotiations, their lack of fairness, their lack of integrity, their dingy office with leaking pipes, and the vending machines that were constantly out of your favorite snack. Whatever their problems are, from the trivial to the serious (or even illegal), they can't improve if they don't know what's wrong. And you now have a golden opportunity to tell them. So tell them. If there's anything you can do to change the place, don't let others continue to suffer the way you have.
2. Don't worry about burning bridges.
If you really have something negative to say, get it off your chest and be as direct, complete and clear as you can. You won't be burning bridges or making enemies as long as you're honest. And if these employers really seem likely to hurt you or retaliate against you for speaking the truth in an exit interview, then let this bridge burn down to the ground. You won't be needing it. You don't have to use this place as a reference.
3. Keep your language professional.
No matter how displeased you may be with this company, there's no need to use foul language, slang, all caps, or multiple exclamation points. Stay calm and collected and treat this interview or survey like the formal meeting/ document that it is. Your opinions will carry more weight if they're delivered with a cool head.
4. Be positive if you can.
Don't just share the negative bits. Find something positive to say—at least one thing—that will help you walk away from this relationship on a high note. Doing this can be a healthy move for you as well as the company and/or your former boss. Leave all of your feelings on the page, and you'll be able to walk away with a clean conscience and turn your full attention toward the future.
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