Skip the exit interview when you leave your job
When it’s time to leave your job, someone from Human Resources may want to sit you down and have an “exit interview”. They’ll ask you questions like “Why are you leaving your position?” and “What was it like to work with your manager.” It’s done with this premise that they’re looking to make the company better.
Don’t take the bait. Say nothing negative about anyone or anything. Tell them that you’ve found another opportunity that you need to take, and that it’s been a privilege to work with them all. And that’s it.
Here’s why: There is absolutely no benefit for you to gain by talking in an exit interview, and plenty of negative consequences to come out of it. At best you’ll be remembered as a complainer, and you may make enemies.
As I wrote in my book “Land The Tech Job You Love”
Once you’ve given your resignation, your goal until you leave the company is to be well remembered. You want people to say “Ol’ Steve, he was a good guy.” Leave graciously, and burn no bridges. No matter how much you may enjoy the thought of telling your boss just how stupid he is, how poorly he runs the department, and how you can’t wait to hear how they’ll manage without you, keep it as a thought. There’s no good outcome of your actions, and they can only hurt you. Sending a long, rambling email telling your soon-to-be-ex co-workers about how you’re glad to be leaving is pointless and destructive. People have long memories. We work in an extremely well-connected industry. Send a letter complaining about how terrible the company is, and that’s how you’ll be remembered. Everything good you’ve done will be eclipsed by your noisy departure. Chances are it will get around.
HR may assure you that everything that you say in your interview will be strictly confidential. This is a fiction or a fantasy, depending on how much the person in HR believes it. Plus, when you manager gets sent to sensitivity training a month after you leave, how hard is it for him to put two and two together?
Nobody wants to make an enemy. You may think you’ll never have to deal with the people you speak badly of again, but it’s an awfully small world out there.
Sometimes people say that “Well, how will the company get any better?” I suggest that that’s no longer your concern, and that the time for that has passed anyway. If you’re unhappy enough with the company to leave, then they’ve been doing things wrong for the duration of your employment.
What do you imagine will happen as a result of your exit interview? That the company that you need to get away from will magically pull its head of its ass? “Damn shame that Jenkins left, but I’m glad he told us about what a bad manager his boss was. Once we got rid of that guy, the world became a better place around here.” It won’t happen.
If you have suggestions on how things should work differently at the company, the time to tell your boss is while you work there. If they can’t bring themselves to act on it during your tenure, telling them at the exit interview isn’t going to do any good.
Again, the key here is that there is no potential upside for you. The best you can hope for is to not piss someone off. The potential negatives are great.
When the time comes for the exit interview, tell them you’ve found another opportunity that you need to take, and that you’re grateful for having had the chance to work at the company. Be gracious and well-remembered as you leave.