When you’re offered a new job, this will undoubtedly be an incredibly exciting thing! But for your old employer, it will probably mean having to find a candidate to replace you, which can be a challenging process. It’s therefore important to make it as easy as possible for them in your exit interview. 

Even if you’re not leaving the role on the best of terms, you may still need a reference, and it’s better to go on a more positive note! To help you prepare for your exit interview, we’ve explored a few dos and don’ts below. 

What is an Exit Interview?

An exit interview is a conversation between an employer and someone within the business who is leaving. This could be due to staff cutbacks, or because the individual is moving to a new job. If you’re being let go from your job, an exit interview can be useful in understanding why. But if you’re leaving for a new role, the interview is more helpful for your employer.

The main purpose of an exit interview is to help the company understand the reason someone has decided to resign. The business can then hopefully make any possible changes to prevent other people leaving for the same reasons. Essentially, if a company wants to keep their best employees and attract new ones, they need to find out why people would choose to leave, and what would make them stay.

What to Do in Your Exit Interview

As the person leaving the business, you may not have as much to gain from an exit interview. But you’ll probably want to help the company make improvements anyway, even if it’s just to help the friends and colleagues that still work there! So what exactly should you do during your exit interview?

1. Prepare Beforehand

Just like any other interview, it’s important to prepare beforehand. So think of a few questions you may be asked, such as why you’re leaving the business, and come up with some constructive answers. Regardless of the reason you’ve chosen to leave, it’s important to provide thoughtful feedback that can help the company in the future. 

2. Focus on the Positives

Even if your last job counts amongst the worst you’ve ever had, try to keep positive during your exit interview. Mention at least a few things you have enjoyed about your time with the business, even if it’s something small. The aim is to balance out some of the constructive criticism you’re offering with positive feedback. Doing this should show a high level of professionalism on your part.

3. Be Professional 

You don’t want to burn any bridges when you leave a job. That may close doors on future opportunities, especially if your old employer has a lot of connections in the industry. And if you’re hoping for a glowing reference, leaving on a sour note won’t be the way to get one!

You should leave the organisation on the best possible terms, making it clear that you appreciate all the opportunities you’ve been given. That way, you can start with a clean slate in your next role, focusing on your progression rather than the past.

exit interview

What to Avoid in Your Exit Interview 

It can be tempting to share all your grievances with the company when you leave, as there will be fewer repercussions! But in all honesty, that probably won’t achieve anything - it’s better to keep calm and offer helpful comments. So what should you avoid doing during your exit interview?

1. Offer No Constructive Feedback

There are often colleagues who we don’t get on that well with at work. But your exit interview isn’t the place to vent about personal issues - try not to discuss your colleagues unless specifically asked about them. There is nothing the business can do about personality clashes, so aim to only talk about things where there’s the opportunity for improvement. 

For example, if you were unhappy about having to pay for parking near your workplace, you could suggest the business validates or partially reimburses parking for staff. Just remember to always be tactful in your approach!

2. Say Nothing

As with solely giving negative remarks, there is no point having an exit interview if you don’t have anything constructive to offer. Sitting there in silence won’t be helpful - it’s best to go into the interview with a few comments prepared in advance, if you’re worried about having nothing to say. Even if the remarks are concerns about the business, if they’re relevant, the interviewer should respect your honesty.

3. Brag About Your New Job

There’s a good chance that you’ll be asked why you’re leaving your current employer - try not to answer this question with endless reasons as to why your new employer is better. Just keep it brief, and avoid giving too many examples! You may be leaving for a higher salary, better benefits, and more responsibilities, but perhaps just mention the latter reason.

Overall, it’s important to be respectful throughout your exit interview, and only offer helpful feedback. You never know if you’ll need a reference from this employer in the future, so it’s best to part on good terms. 

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