Your Exit Interview: How Honest Should You Be?

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You’ve got a new job and you’ve handed in your notice – fab! The only thing left to do is finish your last two weeks, pack up your desk and leave… oh, and your exit interview! When it comes down to an exit interview, most people just aren’t sure how honest they should be, especially if they weren’t exactly fond of the job or company. That’s why Prestige Recruitment Group has written this blog to help you when it comes to preparing and answering those dreaded exit interview questions.

Michael Kerr is an international business speaker and the author of ‘You Can’t Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work,’ and he says that some employees believe that the exit interview is the ideal opportunity to be completely honest about their experiences with their employer, while others think that being candid puts them at risk of burning bridges. Kerr believes that it’s not a black-and-white issue; you should think about how truthful you want to be, and when it’s okay to be.  

Firstly, if you loved your job and role, you should be honest about it! If you feel passionate about the industry and the job you were doing (perhaps you’re only leaving because you got an opportunity that’s too good to turn down) be sure to let management know that this is the case and you’re actually sad to be leaving!

If this isn’t the case – perhaps you’re leaving because of management, or because of problems with the job and company, you might need to withhold some of the honesty. When it comes round to your exit interview, you can be honest about why you’re leaving, but don’t divulge confidential information or try and slander someone’s reputation. Sometimes exit interviews are anonymous through a computer system – if this is the case, you may find it easier to be honest, however it is important however that you are as honest as you can be even if it is not anonymous. When you’re honest about your experiences in an exit interview, you get the closure you need from that role and company. Hopefully, this shouldn’t be the first time management are hearing about problems you may have had, as you should have brought up any problems you have had in meetings or reviews during your time working for the company. If you haven’t, be prepared for management to be surprised or confused.

There is however, a world of difference between being honest and being disrespectful or rude. You should keep it short, polite and positive. Try not to blame particular people in the company for reasons as to why you didn’t like the role. Pointing fingers at certain people can come round to bite you – so keep your answers more general to the company itself. Offer constructive ideas and positive suggestions. When you leave a company, you don’t really want to burn bridges with everyone who works there. If you’re staying in that particular industry, there’s a chance that you might see these people again, or they’ll know your future employers. Therefore, it’s vital that nothing you say is too personal.

If you do have negatives to say, make sure that you deliver criticism by emphasising what you did like at the company. Mention projects, elements or particular experiences that you have had that you have thoroughly enjoyed. You are then explaining to the employer what it is that you feel works in that company – and doesn’t make the whole experience sound negative.

 The best way to think about how to act or speak within your exit interview is to think about how you want to be remembered when you leave the company. Don't let your last hour destroy what you worked to build over weeks, months, or years!

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