Maybe you’ve handed in your resignation letter or maybe your contract is almost over. However, it happened, your job is officially coming to an end. This is the time when your employer may invite you to an exit interview.
An exit interview is a closing meeting between an employer and the employee leaving the organization (either voluntarily or through termination). It is an opportunity for employers to gain feedback from exiting employees in order to evaluate the company’s practices, retain employees and reduce turnover, and improve the organization.
What to expect in an Exit Interview
While it might be unnerving to meet with your soon-to-be previous employer and you may be tempted to decline, don’t turn down the invitation. Since you are leaving the position, you have nothing to lose and plenty to gain! It helps to be prepared to fully maximize the opportunity and end the employment relationship in a positive note.
If the interview was initiated by the employer, then they set the agenda. Be ready to answer questions such as:
- Your reasons for leaving (if you resigned)
- Your feedback, both positive and negative, in terms of:
- Duties and challenges of the position
- Working relationships with colleagues and managers
- What skills and qualifications does the position require
- Offer suggestions for the new hire that will replace you
- Your availability to support the new hire
Do your best to answer the questions as honestly, constructively and as tactfully as you can. Employers who conduct exit interviews genuinely want to learn from your experience, so don’t be shy about offering helpful feedback. Your opinions might benefit the colleagues you are leaving behind.
At the end of the interview, make sure to thank your employer for the opportunity to give your feedback and for any you received in return. Offer your gratitude for the employment experience.
What you can gain from an Exit Interview
Many employees dislike exit interviews, describing the experience as awkward or uncomfortable and without any benefit for the employee who is leaving. However, you may be surprised how useful exit interviews can be.
1. Reference Letters and Networking Contacts:
Assuming that the job ended on relatively collegial terms, exit interviews are a chance to secure a strong reference. It’s a simple as asking who would be available to provide a reference for you.
Keep in touch with your colleagues and supervisors, especially those who you want to keep as networking contacts. Make sure you connect on Linkedin. Job hunting is an unpredictable process and you never know when you may learn about a new employment opportunity from former supervisor or co-worker.
2. Evaluating your Skills:
Before the interview ends, make sure to ask for time to address a few questions of your own – things you really want know about. Consider asking for:
- Feedback about your performance on the job
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- Advice about professional development that might be useful for you
If the job ended on negative terms and you’re still dealing with anger and resentment, it may not be a good idea to participate in an exit interview. Expressing your anger with an employer will only end your chances of a reference and may ruin your professional reputation. If you have a legal or human rights cause with your employer, discuss it with your union, lawyer or the Ministry of Labour; don’t handle it on your own at the exit interview.
While first impressions are powerful, so are final, lasting impressions. Ending a job on a positive and constructive note will benefit both you and the company well into the future.