How to Handle an Exit Interview


You’ve given your two weeks’ notice at your current job and have worked hard and diligently right up until the end. When you’re called down to Human Resources for your exit interview, you’re…hesitant. Should you say what you really thought of your boss, or should you stay silent instead? Here’s how to handle your exit interview—gracefully, honestly, and above all, professionally.

Be prepared.

When you sit down with the HR manager, she is going to ask you direct questions about your experiences with the company and your colleagues. If your time spent with the organization was less than stellar, you’ll need to be mentally and emotionally prepared so that she doesn’t catch you off guard. So before the interview, try practicing your answers and have in mind what you’d like to say. Here’s a guide to your professional exit strategy.

Be honest.

An exit interview is your last opportunity to express your feelings about your workplace, your boss—even the company’s policies. It’s in your best interest to be honest, but to a certain extent. Even if you despised your boss, you should never, ever say so. If there were workplace issues (or perhaps a better way of improving workflow), you should definitely bring those issues up.

Be professional.

Now is not the time to break out into tears or show your anger over being passed up for that promotion you desperately wanted. Keep calm by focusing on the facts—and not your emotions. And as much as you might be tempted to, don’t bad-mouth your boss or any of your nosy colleagues. After all, what you say during your exit interview will be noted by the HR manager. More than likely she will share details from your conversation with your boss and the company, too.

Focus on the positive.

Most people remember what they hear only at the beginning and end of a conversation. So make your meeting with the HR manager memorable by starting off—and ending—your conversation on a positive note. Let her know that you’ve enjoyed working at the company and highlight some of the key moments during your career there: Perhaps you picked up some new skills or helped the company win an award. You should mention the people who were instrumental to your success as well.

Your exit interview is the final chapter in your current job. By being professional, you’ll ensure that your exit interview—just like your initial job interview—is successful and will help you as you begin the next chapter in your career.

Readers, how have you handled exit interviews in the past? Did you paint a positive picture regarding your work experience? Let us know your experiences in the comments section below!

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