Danger At Your Exit Interview

exit interview tipsIn a recent CBS article about exit interviews that encouraged you to share your real thoughts and feelings with the exit interviewer, I was the lone dissenting voice.

When you resign you are firing your employer, in effect saying, " you aren't good enough for me anymore." This causes more work for your colleagues and isn't appreciated much by anyone; especially your boss for whom your resignation is at best a pain in the neck and at worst a black mark: a manager's job is to lose people on his or her timetable and not on yours.


Anything you say can be used against you

Exit interviews were conceived to provide corporate insights that might contribute to productivity and containment of costly employee turnover. Good concept, however from the POV of intelligent career management, saying anything beyond the professional not-burning-of-bridges has no upside for you, and unknown downsides.

At exit interviews, you have no control over the understanding, interpretation or use of anything you might say, so speaking truth to power rarely has any short or long-term benefits for you; beyond the pleasure of venting and the lip service you'll receive in return.

Any commentary on personnel, processes and improvements you are likely to have made and had ignored before; they probably aren't going to be listened to now, especially from someone who is jumping ship.

Comments on "improvements" are particularly problematic because they are inherently critical of someone in a position of authority. In a worst-case scenario, that someone becomes aware of your constructive criticism and as you are no longer there...well you know how that story ends.


A career is a long time

If you were truly an exceptional employee who wasn't adequately recognized or rewarded, well that's often the luck of the draw. However, when the dust has settled and there is a noticeable void, the people who count will recall how valuable you were to the company. You will be remembered for how you performed your job everyday, not for what you said in an exit interview.

With good performance, these colleagues might one day try to recruit you, and would certainly look well upon your application to work with them again. This means you will have good references, and some valuable colleagues for your professional network. Why jeopardize the future by venting, for the nth time, the insoluble frustrations that eventually led you to quit, when logic tells you they will again be ignored or perhaps used against you in some way?

Enlightened self-interest says that at exit interviews, you should keep to "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." These protocols evolved for good reasons. Keep your exit interviews short, professional and avoid anything that could be used against you at any point ion the future. A career is a long time and you may well meet these people again.



Next: The Best Career Advice Of All Time: Shut Up



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Dave

There were a few other reasons that the article didn't mention as to why you should just exit gracefully. (keep in mind, even though companies/people ask how they can improve, they really don't like to hear the negatives. And if you are the ONE to point them OUT, you will ALSO be the ONE associated with it)
1) Your "New Employer" may someday be bought out, or merged with your "Former Employer". And that negative association that I mentioned above, will be labeled on YOU, either by the company, or your former boss.
2) I have seen people throw their "Former Boss" under the bus in a exit interview, thinking that THEY were getting the last word, only to have that person hired by their NEW EMPLOYER down the road, and AGAIN become their boss. (and aware of what they had said)

February 06 2012 at 3:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim Schaaf

Always exit a job f\gracefully, even if you are angry with your employer. You never know if the job you are going to will work out. Your old employer just might take you back. I have seen this many times. When I worked at Walmart, they took back workers who left on a good note and did not take back those who left in anger. When I retired and was saying good bye to management, I was told that I was welcome to come back to work any time.

February 06 2012 at 2:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
annedyth

thanks for the advice, I'll simply disappear on my next 'exit' , let them guess why I left.

February 05 2012 at 3:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
justin8617

I thought that the whole point of an exit interview is to be honest about the reasons why you are quitting. There must be some bad things you say about the company during the exit interview because if you don't then your boss will ask you" Why are you quitting if there is nothing bad about this company?" The reason why you say these bad things about the company is not to make them feel bad but to offer them constructive criticism. It is up to them whether they want to listen to your suggestions or ignore them but if you don't tell them your suggestions then they don't even have a chance to learn. This situation reminds me of what my karate insructor told me when he visits his teacher to train. He says that he doesn't want to go to them so that they could tell him how great of a student he is. He goes to them so that they could tell him what he is doing wrong and how he can improve these weaknesses. People learn a lot by listening to constructive criticism but we can't give it to other people because it will hurt their pride or feelings. That means that our feelings and pride is what keeps us from reaching our full learning potential as humans.

February 05 2012 at 3:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Queen Carol

What is holding all you so called intellects? Get to the white house and help that guy out.

February 05 2012 at 2:29 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Queen Carol's comment
whdlsn

He doesn't want help or input. He only wants to promote his socialist agenda. That is the sum and substance of obama's tenure.

February 05 2012 at 6:42 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
matthew

As best said by my father years ago , What you dont say now doesnt come back to bite you in rthe ass later.

February 05 2012 at 11:07 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
whdlsn

Most of us would like the short term release by speaking your mind, but this article is spot-on. In our industry, if you are someone of note, the others of inportance will know your name. Anything you might say may be future coffee conversation between your former and perspective employer. As this article indicated, try to refrain from burning too many bridges.

February 05 2012 at 8:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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