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Exit Interview Tips — Important Questions to Prepare For

If you’ve decided to tender your resignation, you may have to complete a few formalities before moving on to your new role. One of those is the exit interview. We explore what it is all about.

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After you tender your resignation, you may be interviewed before you leave, just as you interviewed to get the job. However, there is a difference between these two and that lies in their agenda. While the former determines your hiring success, the latter takes a dialogue-approach on your experience with the company. However, what you divulge in an exit interview may have an impact on your career and your relationship with the firm.

What happens at an exit interview?

Exit interviews offer insights into an employee’s experience with the workplace culture, day-to-day processes and management. The company can then implement or improve strategies to better retain employees.

In an exit interview, you will be asked questions across a range of topics about your job, starting with your reasons for leaving, and then moving on to discuss various opportunities and challenges you have faced.

What should you not say in an exit interview?

It is always important to leave any workplace with grace — you do not want to burn bridges that may affect your future success. While you are encouraged to share your concerns, it is essential to do so constructively in ways that help improve the overall employee experience. For instance, if salaries or workfrom-home flexibility is a big challenge across the board which is why you are making an exit, hiring managers can take the feedback to management to push for changes.

Here are some quick tips ensure you remain professional in your responses to the exit interview questions:

  1. Do not use words to demean team members or managers.If you feel those words are too crude should they be directed at you, drop them. When sharing a case of a problematic team member or manager, focus on the issue at hand (i.e. use anecdotes to describe the situation). Do not point fingers at the person’s character.
  2. Do not speak ill about the company.You may have disagreements with certain company policies. However, talking down on the company may make the interviewer feel bad — after all, he/she is still part of the firm. The interview is for you to offer feedback on the company’s employee experience and not make existing employees feel uneasy being a part of it.
  3. Do not imply that the company will experience a huge loss when you leave.It is perfectly fine to admit that your potential was not fully explored, but with examples. Also, dwelling on the idea that the company did not take your talent seriously, and it is a waste, is a no-go. This might make you appear overconfident or a snob, which is undesirable to your professional self.

Exit interviews can take place amicably, as long as both parties understand the agenda of the interview. Should your decision to leave be driven by factors that emotionally affect you, vent ahead of time. This way, you avoid your pent-up frustrations boiling over during the interview. You can, for instance, speak to a confidante, or write a detailed letter directed to the person in question but have it sent to a career coach you are engaged with or someone you can trust.

You can also prepare these basic interview questions in advance:

1. What made you decide to leave?

Focus on practical reasons, be it a career change or advancement. Should there be negative pointers, phrase them as constructive feedback for the company.

2. What have you achieved during your time here?

It can be any achievement, big or small. It can range from completing a project to working with a professional team useful to your growth.

3. Were you adequately prepared to perform your duties? 

If you feel you could not perform your duties well because you did not have adequate resources or were not given the chance to show your strength, voice it out so the management can work harder to improve the quality of work life.

4. What do you like or dislike about your job?

Highlighting some positives of your job is always a good way to remind yourself that you are taking away some valuable experience. When it comes to dislikes, do not rant for the sake of it, especially when it concerns the company as a whole.  

5. How was your relationship with your manager? 

Since your relationship with your manager determines your day-to-day at the workplace, this question holds significance to understand the quality of leadership. Again, how you describe this must offer useful insights to the interviewer. If you feel the managerial style can be improved, give ideas and explain the rationale behind them.

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