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How to behave during an exit interview

HREdward KiledjianComment
Read my previous blog post entitles The "You" Brand here

If you are under the age of 35, you will likely switch jobs 8-12 times in your career. If any of those jobs are with medium to large companies then expect an exit interview to be part of your departure process. Too often, employees mistakenly believe this is their first real chance to be honest about all the issues they have had to live with. Let’s be clear, it isn’t that golden opportunity. 

I tell anyone who will listen 

“Never ever burn your bridges because you never know what the future will bring”.

Talking trash or negatively during your exit interview will circulate like wildfire and you never know who you may work with in the future (as a boss, colleague or customer).

Do not assume HR is impartial, they never are. Always work with the assumption that anything you mention to HR will get reported back to the business.

As you prepare to embark on your next journey, remember that : 

  • the grass isn't much greener on the other side and with time, you will likely find hidden issues with your new employer. 
  • Don't be a jerk or a negative nelly. Everything you say during your exit interview should be positive (always be curteous and polite.)
  • Unless there is a good reason to hide the name of your new employer, provide it when asked. People will get suspicious if you start playing cloak-and-dagger games.
  • Be uber professional until the very end. Submit your termination paperwork, clean up your files (paper and digital), make sure you knowledge transfer what you've learned and continue to work as hard as you always have.
  • Provide your personal contact info to your colleagues and boss. Reinforce that you will still try to help them if they are stuck for a short while but that this will be best effort outside of work hours.