Exit Interview Participation: Required? Recommended?

Whether you're leaving your job for a new opportunity, being laid-off or even fired, many employers will request an exit interview. An exit interview is typically conducted by your company's Human Resources representative(s) and is allegedly designed to provide the company with a unique opportunity to gather information on how they can improve their employee satisfaction. Be aware that although that is the generally accepted purpose for an exit interview, there are other possible motives your soon-to-be former employer may have.

Is an Exit Interview a Requirement?

No. An employer can't legally require you to submit to an exit interview, unless you signed a legally binding agreement to do so when hired. The decision to participate or decline is yours and should be considered carefully before being made.

Is an Exit Interview Recommended?

Agreeing to an exit interview is a very personal decision that should be made based on your situation and weighing the consequences. It's important to know the pros and cons of participating or declining and to consider the status of your own personal relationship with your employer as you are leaving their company.

Pros of Giving and Exit Interview.

  • You foster goodwill for the future, keeping the door open for other employment opportunities with the company.

  • You preserve an amicable business relationship with professionals you might continue to come into contact with throughout your career.

  • You can be more candid about your areas of dissatisfaction and ways the company can improve the job experience for its employees.

Cons of Giving and Exit Interview.

  • You say too much and regret it afterwards.
  • You burn bridges instead of mending fences for the future.

What are the Consequences of Declining an Exit Interview?

  • Employers may note your denial in your personnel file, in an unflattering manner, and make the information available to future employers that check you references and employment history.

  • If you are quitting your job or being laid off, employers can choose to be either generous or conservative with a severance or bonus package. Declining an exit interview may mean forfeiting some of that generosity.

  • You lose your opportunity to give constructive feedback on ways your employer can improve their work environment and employee satisfaction.

  • You forfeit your chance to foster professional goodwill that can contribute to flattering recommendations on employment opportunities with other companies.

  • You burn your rehiring bridge--it's unlikely that the company will look favorably on rehiring you if an opportunity presents itself in the future.

  • You give up the opportunity to ask your own exiting questions should you need clarification on your performance, areas you can improve or why you're being laid off/fired.

Choosing to accept or decline an exit interview should never be something you feel pressured to do. Discuss your options and position with a trusted mentor before deciding. If you choose to do the interview be truthful but tactful. Remember anything you say can ultimately be used against you. If you decide to decline, it's often easier to simply avoid a direct response and let your time run out before leaving. Instead of a blatant denial that can be documented in your file, it's just a final exit step that never was completed.