If you've ever quit a job before, you're probably already familiar with an often uncomfortable and overlooked aspect of employment: the exit interview. But what you might not realize is that an exit interview can be just as important as a job interview. Not only do you want to leave your place of employment with a good reputation for the purpose of references, but in case you want to come back some day.
Here are our top tips for nailing your exit interview.
1. Don't Think It Doesn't Matter
While you may be tempted to air all your grievances and get your complaints out in the open, in most cases, this isn't a good idea. Not only is it unlikely to actually incite change, it's a surefire way to get yourself written off by the company. There's nothing wrong with calmly and respectfully telling the HR representative you're likely to talk to that you have issues with the company, but make sure you don't cause a scene, no matter how much you may feel like it.
2. Prepare Ahead of Time
Don't go into an exit interview assuming that you'll just come up with what to say on the spot. While you may not know exactly what they're going to ask you, you can be sure they're going to ask you what you liked about the job and what you didn't like about the job. Make sure you have a clear and concise list of the pros and cons of your former position, a few ideas about how you would improve your position, and a few ideas about what you wouldn't change. Try to project the kind of poised and positive attitude you would want to project in a job interview.
3. Focus on the Relationships You Built at the Company
This doesn't only apply to the exit interview itself, but also to all of your behavior as you prepare to leave your job. Write notes to all your colleagues that you connected with, thanking them for their help and support. Try to compliment a specific talent you think each person has. These kind of small gestures may seem like no big deal, but they go a long way to ensuring you preserve the relationships you built at the company — relationships that may open doors for you later in life.
4. Focus on the Positives
If you begin the interview by first telling the HR rep what you loved about your job, they're more likely to see you as a level headed, neutral person when you tell them the things you didn't like about your job. Plus, focusing on the positives is a much better way to ensure you leave the company on a good note.
Most importantly, keep in mind that an exit interview isn't an ending, its a new beginning that could have a big impact on your career in the future.