Exit interviews – from both sides of the desk

I have always been a big beliver in exit interviews.  But come to think of it, I have only had an exit  interview in approximately 50% of the companies I have worked with!  Many employers do not conduct exit interviews because they have not done so in the past and therefore are missing out on the opportunity that exit interviews provide for the company.  Although the employer is allowing exposure to possible criticism, this is a unique opportunity to learn the following from departing employees:

Why is the employee is leaving?

What his or her experience was while working at the company?

Is anything that the company is doing well or needs to improve upon?

Is there an opportunity for the organization to enable the transfer of knowledge from the departing employee to current staff in a more efficient manner?

Departing employees are more likely to give constructive and objective feedback than employees still in their jobs.  That said, for the departing interviewee, the exit interview is an opportunity to provide some constructive criticism, leave on a positive note and with a feeling of mutual respect.  Now, I know you are sitting there thinking, “You’re dreaming!” if I think that an employee that is leaving for negative reasons isn’t going to go out with a blaze of glory!

We have all had that one job or boss (whom we should never talk about in an interview) that has created all sorts of nasty scenarios of revenge and dreams of leaving with a case of beer in our hands down the emergency exit like Steven Slater of Jet Blue.  But, spite, vengeful thoughts and feelings should be left at the door. Never burn a bridge that you may later want to cross again.

For both parties, the exit interview is the chance to shake hands and depart as friends.


Dana Sebal has over 10 years Marketing and Human Resources experience.  Outside of her professional career, Dana’s passions include her family, rowing, running, tennis, skiing, yoga, and Beagles.

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