5 Exit Interview Tips

If you've made the decision to participate in an exit interview, you'll want to prepare ahead for the process to ensure that you leave your employer on the best possible terms. Use these five exit interview tips below to guide you through a successful departure.

Plan Ahead

Request an interview date with atleast 48-hours for preparation and a copy of your personnel file, if the company allows it. 

Ask a trusted mentor to practice possible exit interview questions with you so you feel comfortable responding in a constructive, truthful, but appropriate manner. Review the file, if possible and note any issues of disagreement or discontent. Decide how much of those issues you are willing to address and use the practice time to develop a smooth, neutral response. Some possible exit questions to consider are:

  • What is the key reason you're leaving?
  • How would you have liked the "situation" that predicated your leaving to have been handled?
  • What have you found positive and satisfying about employment here?
  • What are some of the key areas you feel we can improve on?
  • What additional responsibility would you have liked to have been given but weren't?

Arrive On Time and Dress Appropriately

Your exit interview is still part of your employment history with the company. Plan to be at the interview a few minutes early to safeguard against being late. Dress in a professional manner even if the company is more casual or that's how you've been dressing. The HR representative may have seen little of your office attire during your employment time, unless you worked frequently with him or her. Their final impression of you will be included in the file and above all you want to strive for competent and professional.

Bring Transferrable Knowledge to Leave with your Interviewer

If there are any helpful materials or information that you can provide for the person transitioning into your old job, bring them to the interview. It's a notable act of goodwill toward your employer and colleagues, even if you don't really feel it. It may serve as a tangible reminder of your professionalism, long after you're gone.

Remain Neutral if Asked a Question for Which You're Unprepared

Regardless of your preparation, there is always the possibility that you'll be asked a question you are unprepared to answer. Take a moment and do not rush to fill the silence with a response. If you're unable to think of an appropriate answer that doesn't make you uncomfortable, don't make one up. Be honest and say that you aren't prepared to answer that question at this time. Just because you agreed to the exit interview does not mean that you have to incriminate yourself in any way.

Thank Your Interviewer

Being gracious and professional, even if you are not leaving your company on the best terms, is always crucial. In business you never know when the contacts you've made and the relationships you've forged will play a role in your professional future. Keep the interview atmosphere as cordial and professional as possible. End with a thank you and handshake.