So you just decided to quit your job and submitted your resignation letter. But before your leave, the human resources representative asks you to sit down and do an exit interview. What exactly is an exit interview and, should you really go for it? Well, stick around because, in this blog post, I’m going to break down my thoughts on it.
So, today we’ll be discussing exit interviews and why they’re conducted, and what you should do about it if you are asked to participate in one yourself.
Okay, so you go into your boss’s office, you tender your resignation and you tell them that you’re leaving. Typically what happens is, the boss will then go to the human resource department and let them know of your intention and typically what your last day would be.
So, in the last week of your employment, you will get a notice from the human resource inviting you to participate in an exit interview, and usually, it’s somebody in human resources that would be conducting it.
Essentially, the reason why they’re doing them is they are trying to collect data on the overall trends in the market or in their workforce, as it relates to the market.
So, maybe if there are a lot of people who are leaving your organization, viz., compensation not being competitive, or maybe benefits are an issue, then they can look at the trends, and in theory, they can put together a corrective action if they choose to do so.
So, what they’re looking for are any employment trends that they should be getting in front of. Obviously, there is something, that organizations call healthy turnover. There’s some churn that needs to happen in any organization but voluntary turnover is what companies are most concerned about.
Good organizations should be tracking that and figuring out whether or not there’s a bigger problem at hand.
Furthermore, they might also be looking at a particular manager. There’s a manager that’s always seeming to turnover people, maybe higher than the rest of the organization or abnormally high. Then they might take a look deeper at that manager and that manager’s style and either send them back to retraining or kind of troubleshoot why that might be happening. It’s usually not as sinister as people think. Its purpose, literally, is to collect data.
However, there is an inadvertent dark side to this exit interview, even though it might seem like it’s an innocent thing, it could possibly come back to hurt you and we’ll break that down in just a moment here.
So, as you get this notice to sit down with the human resource department, typically you’ll meet with somebody. It might be a human resources manager, but more likely it’s going to be somebody in mid-HR or potentially even somebody relatively entry-level who will be going through a standard form with you.
What Questions Are Commonly Asked In An Exit Interview?
A typical exit interview involves asking some basic questions to the resigning employee which include(but are not limited to); the reasons for landing this decision, the next potential organization the resigning is about to or aims to join, and the reasons behind it, any positive or negative feedback they can provide before leaving, their opinion about the boss or superiors, whether they have any plan to return in the future, etc.
Then they’ll usually store that information by saving the document thus created to your employment file or they may just put it into a generic file on some human resources person’s desk. Especially, in some smaller organizations where it is not as sophisticated or if it’s done through a third-party organization that will contact you.
You are not even talking to the company or talking to a third party that collects this data and then they’ll spit out a bunch of reports at the end of the year that the companies can then use to track and look at those trends, usually like executive level people.
Should You Go For An Exit Interview Or Not?
So, the ultimate question is that, should you participate in this exit interview? Well, I would generally not recommend that you do it. And there are two major reasons why.
The first reason is that they’re simply not required. The company can’t force you to participate in an exit interview. They can’t hold your paycheck. They can’t do anything adverse to you if you decide to decline the exit interview. It’s strictly voluntary and you can choose to do it at your own will.
The second reason, and probably the most important one is that you as the employee, stand to gain almost nothing from doing so but there is something that you can potentially lose.
Let’s understand that in a better way. Just imagine that you’re sitting in front of human resources representative and you’ve all these issues building up over time. Your boss is a jerk, they never listen to you, you don’t have any promotional opportunities, you’re getting underpaid, and the company treats you terribly, it’s a highly toxic work environment so you kind of, spew all this stuff out so the human resources representative is going to be scribbling all this stuff and taking all these dubious notes in the process.
It might be a chance for you to stick it to them real good and tell them how you really feel about the organization but what you’re essentially doing is you are putting together a document of gripes or issues that you had and now it’s going to be associated with your employment file.
So, in the future, if you decide to go back and get a job with that employer they are certainly going to reference those documents why you quit, to begin with, and, how you went about quitting.
So if you have this list of things and you’ve just vented and spewed all this frustration at them, your chances of rejection may become higher.
Then you can potentially burn a bridge and it’s always better to not burn a bridge but you never know what’s going to happen in the future and if you do want to go back to that employer, you don’t want to have that negativity associated with you because you could have been in good standing and then suddenly through the exit interview, you end up moving into a bucket of people that’s not hirable.
I know that there’s some advice going around saying if another employer to whom you have applied for a job checks references and they’ll able to reference that exit interview you gave to your previous employer and get all this information on you. And that’s simply not true.
In fact, the company can get into some legal trouble if they start giving you a bunch of reasons why you were leaving your organization and it could open up to liability, you can go back and sue and all this kind of stuff.
But if you’re somebody that is 100% sure you’re never going to go back to this employer in the near future and you want to really tell them how it is, feel free to participate in the exit interview and really lay it all out there.
It’s probably your only real opportunity to truly tell them what you think, but again, the catch here is you’re telling a human resources representative that probably gets paid less than you and doesn’t really make any concrete decisions in the company.
At this point, what you are hoping for is that the information that you gave in the exit interview gets into the boss’s ears and eventually gets back to the people that you think should get in order to make any kind of structural or cultural change.
But generally speaking, it’s probably going to fall on deaf ears and just make you feel better for the moment and nothing else.
Not to mention the employer should already know why you’re leaving. If you’re truly leaving for reasons other than some company came and recruit you and gave you an offer that was too good to be true but should really be up to speed on those things, you should be having regular one-on-one syncs with them. You should be having these discussions and it shouldn’t come as a major surprise to your boss.
In fact, if it’s a surprise to the boss and you’re leaving because of very valid issues of things that they’re doing in their department then your boss should feel ashamed for not being more aware of what’s going on in a department and that’s where the human resources department should be more concerned about it and saying do we have a bigger problem here.
If you’re somebody that’s thinking about quitting a job and has been asked by your boss to undergo an exit interview then firstly you should think calmly and then decide whether you should go for it or not.
In case you decide to go for an exit interview, give your feedback regarding the company, its management, your superiors, etc. mindfully if you wish to come back to the same organization in the future.