5 Useful Tips for a Successful Exit Interview

Cecile Peterkin
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If you've decided that you should take part in an exit interview, then you should start preparing for this process to make sure that you will part with your employer in the best possible way. This will increase your chances of getting a referral from your employer, and of course maintain a positive relationship with the management and even your coworkers.


If this is the first time you will have this kind of interview, these tips will help prepare you:

1. Plan Ahead

Make a request for an interview with a preparation time of at least 48 hours. Have a copy of your personnel file if it’s possible. You want to practice answering possible exit interview questions also, so you will not feel awkward responding to certain questions. Take a look at your file and take note of those issues you disagree with.

You have to prepare to answer questions like what made you decide to leave, what would have stopped you from leaving, what you like and dislike about the company, and so on. Remember that  you should be sincere in your response, but you should be professional about it as well.

2. Be On Time and Be Properly Dressed

Even an exit interview is part of one’s employment history with the company they worked for. Therefore you still should try to make a good impression by arriving on time and dressing appropriately. Their final impression of you will still be mentioned in your file and you want it to indicate how professional and competent you are.

3. Offer to Help with the Training of Your Replacement

If you've given the company enough time to find a replacement for you, it’s a good idea to offer to help that person as he or she transitions into your old job. What you can do is bring with you on your exit interview whatever files or materials you have that can give important information to your replacement. This act of goodwill on your part will be a reminder of how professional you are.

4. Don’t Feel Forced to Answer Questions You’re Not Prepared for

Agreeing to an exit interview does not in any way mean you have to put yourself in a difficult position. If you eventually feel that you’re being asked questions that you’re not comfortable answering, you should let them know. There is no need to incriminate yourself in the process.

5. Thank Your Interviewer

Always be professional and gracious, even if you think it’s your employer who should feel that way about you. Show them how grateful you are for having been part of their organization, and that you've learned a lot with the experience. Remember that, in business, your network of professionals matters a lot. The people you worked with can end up playing a big role in your career planning and advancement in the end.

Oftentimes exit interviews can be as nerve racking as the original interview you went through to get the position in the first place.  You want to maintain a positive upbeat attitude as you are departing.  You want to express your thanks for the position and, no matter what, never ever burn your bridges.  As you are exiting, never speak negative of a supervisor or any co-workers let alone of the company as a whole.  Life is short and you never know when you might need to apply for a new position with the company you are leaving. 


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @David, thanks for your comment. Not everyone leaves a job because there are issues in the workplace. It could be that you are leaving for a better opportunity. However, if you are leaving the company because of issues such as an abusive boss, then I say yes you should explain why you are leaving. But remember - never burn your bridges! Do not sit in HR and start ranting and raving about that terrible boss. Let them know the issues - yes - but state them calmly and rationally. Make sure you include some positives in with the negatives such as you worked with a great team and learned a lot which will be useful for your future employment. Always say thank you at the end of the exit interview and leave on a positive note.

  • David D.
    David D.

    What if the company really should here the issues that caused you to leave? Isn't that half the problem that people aren't speaking up? I'm pretty sure they are aware of their issues and the people staying have reluctantly accepting them which is why it is such a bad environment to begin with...

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