How To Ace An Exit Interview!

How To Ace An Exit Interview!
By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer

In another day or two you’ll start clearing out your desk. It’s nearly been two weeks since you’d emailed the boss your letter of resignation.
Not much to do now but tie up loose ends. Yes, it’ll feel great to be moving on. But there’s one chore left that’s making you feel uneasy: you’ve been asked to take part in an “exit interview.”
If you’ve never done one before, you’re probably wondering what it’s all about. Basically it’s a chance for management to get your parting thoughts, and for you make a final good impression.
What’s An Exit Interview?
This may be your employer’s last chance to ask for formal feedback from you. They’d love to know why you’ve opted to leave, and what you really think about them. That way they can strive to reduce future turnover and fix internal problems.
So they set up a meeting to ask for your opinions. At larger employers the session could be with Human Resources, or even with an external supplier who specializes in such consultations. In smaller establishments you might meet with a manager from another division.
You’re not legally obligated to attend an exit interview. (After all, you’ve already resigned. What can they do if you refuse: fire you?) Should you agree to attend, it’s still your choice to speak openly or not.
Why Bother Showing Up?
Maybe there’s something you’ve been waiting years to get off your chest. About how the organization is run. About the people in charge. Or about how staff (like you) are being treated.
Possibly you have ideas you’ve wanted to share that could improve things. If you feel you haven’t been listened to enough previously, now’s a good time to contribute. Surveys show that employers tend to act on exit interview feedback.
Speaking honestly and offering productive suggestions solidifies the lasting impression you make.
When Should You Respectfully Decline?
“Just say no” to the invitation if you have angry feelings about the employer you don’t think you can control. Exploding with accusations, rage or blame could do harm to your own reputation. Then again, if you plan to never work in that town or industry again, you could finally vent.
Decline respectfully if your anonymity can’t be guaranteed in writing beforehand. It would be a shame to try and leave on a high note, only to find out after that your private, candid thoughts had been leaked. Any negative feedback you’ve given could haunt you in particular. Hardly the kind of specter you want hovering if you go back to ask for a reference.  
How To Prepare For The Meeting
There really isn’t much to prepare for. Anticipating some of the questions – so you can reply constructively – is about all that’s required. Here’s a typical list:
·         How do you feel things went here?
·         Do you have suggestions for improvements?
·         Where are we coming up short?
·         Was there a particular reason you’ve decided to move on?
·         What could we have done that would have persuaded you to stay?
·         What is your new employer giving you that you did not get from us?
·         How does your new job fulfill your career goals?
·         Would you like us to stay in touch to let you know about future opportunities?
When the interview ends, thank the people present. Wish everyone the best of luck. Then go and complete whatever few duties remain. You can part ways now knowing you’ve kept the bridge with this employer free and clear.