Cleveland State University

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Job Search Strategies
Exit Interviews
exit interview

The exit interview is generally a meeting between a member of a company's human resources department and an employee who has departed. During the interview, the employee may either be asked questions from the HR representative, complete an exit survey or a combination of both.

One obvious reason human resources departments conduct exit interviews are to find out why the employee is leaving. Another reason is to collect data in an effort to improve working conditions and retain employees. Companies can also get a sense of the morale and attitude of other workers from this process.

While the employer is very interested in conducting exit interviews with their former employees, the employees, in turn, are under no obligation to undergo this process. Ultimately, the decision to participate in an exit interview is up to you.

Among the items to consider when deciding whether or not to participate in an exit interview are as follows:

  1. Will you benefit from an exit interview?
  2. Is it anonymous, or are you required to sign the survey or HR representative's notes?
  3. Is the reason you're leaving any of the company's business?
  4. Why did your company wait until you're leaving to ask your opinion?
  5. Is your HR department trying to find out the "real" reason you're leaving?

Like a hiring interview, you should be prepared for an exit interview. Below is a list of sample questions an employer may ask you.

  1. What led you to decide to leave the company?
  2. What factors were most important in choosing your new job?
  3. What was most satisfying about your job?
  4. What was least satisfying about your job?
  5. Did you feel you had enough support in your job?
  6. Before deciding to leave, did you explore the possibility of an internal transfer?
  7. What could your immediate supervisor do to improve his or her management style?

Although you should answer exit interview questions honestly, it is also important to maintain a professional attitude during this procedure. The comments that you make will remain in your personnel file long after you are gone, and any negative comments that you made could come back to haunt you and may possibly affect a future employment reference or create an adverse background check.

Your exit interview answers should, in effect, be as positive and constructive as possible. You have the right to refuse to ask any questions that you feel are intrusive or will put a damper on your future plans.