You’ve handed in your resignation, you’re a few days out from leaving, and you’re asked to sit down with HR and answer some questions about your experience at ‘X’ company. We’ve all been there; questioning what you should say, wondering how to balance being truthful while also being respectful, or contemplating whether it’s even worth it to sit down in the first place.

We’ve met one of the senior recruiters at Grada to discuss how you should tackle your exit interview and prepare you for your next workplace departure.

What is the point of an exit interview?

To you, an exit interview is just a formality, but to the company your leaving, an exit interview is a chance to learn what they’re doing right and what they can do to improve themselves for current and future employees.

Generally, you’ll sit down with your HR department, or a manager who wasn’t your direct supervisor, and you’ll be asked a series of questions. Your answers will help determine what the culture of the business is like, which areas of improvement they need to focus on, and how they can avoid losing employees in future.

What can I expect to be asked?

Be prepared for questions similar to the ones listed below! Depending on your profession there will likely be industry-specific questions you could prepare for as well.

  1. What prompted you to begin the job search?
  2. What did the job offer you that solidified your decision to leave?
  3. What would have needed to change in terms of training, culture, or management for you to be satisfied in your current role?
  4. What could we have done for you to remain employed here?
  5. How did you find it working under ‘X’ manager?
  6. Would you consider coming back to the company in the future?

Should I be honest in my exit interview even if it means speaking negatively towards the company, my manager, or co-workers?

You could have been perfectly happy in your current role and then, out of the blue, you were offered your dream position. If that’s the case, then great – don’t hesitate to tell your employer how delightful it’s been… But let’s face it, there’s likely a reason you’re leaving and presumably it doesn’t involve a glowing review of the company.

This is your chance to practise integrity, be honest and discuss the real issues that prompted your decision to leave. The company you’re leaving will benefit, and your soon-to-be ex-colleagues will appreciate you for it!

We know it’s hard to broach these topics, which can quite often be the reason you find yourself leaving in the first place. Just remember, they’re asking you these questions because they want to know the truth, this is a learning curve for the management team and you’re providing valuable feedback on how they can improve the business from an insider’s perspective.

I want to share my negative experience, how do I do so without burning bridges?

Come prepared. If you have gripes with management or colleagues, be ready to speak on specific instances and include email threads or text chains if you have them, this will strengthen your position and corroborate your version of events.

Speak constructively. Name-calling or attacking people on a personal level will distract from the real issue and likely result in you looking unprofessional. Stay calm and talk about the crux of the problem, this will validate your argument and you’ll be seen as level-headed and rational.

End on a high note. Let them know the best parts of the company and what you found most enjoyable about working there, this will help you look less like you’re on a witch hunt and more like you’re trying to help the company progress.

What are some key points to think about before going into the interview?

  • Work Environment – Was everyone able to get along or were there a few people making life difficult for everyone? Was there healthy competition or were you pitted against each other?
  • Management – Were you supported by your management team? Did you feel comfortable talking to them about any issues you had?
  • Workload – Do you feel like your workload was manageable? Did you have enough work to keep you motivated?

Any final thoughts?

If you’re having issues at your workplace, don’t wait till you’re leaving to address them! Speak to HR or your direct manager, if they value their employees, they’ll do their best to fix the issue before it causes you to leave.

If you’ve gone to management and you’re still unhappy, it may be time to reach out to Grada Recruitment to help you find your next role.