Q&A: How Do I Prepare for an Exit Interview?

Question: I have been asked to speak to a HR representative regarding my resignation and am supposed to participate honestly in an exit interview. How do I go about preparing myself for it?

Answer: They say that first impressions matter, but not many are aware that final impressions, too, are lasting impressions. An exit interview is a chance for you to leave an impression and a positive one will bode well for your future career. Some companies emphasise the necessity of exit interviews to hear first-hand the reasons behind employees’ resignation. Exit interviews play a small part in helping to improve the company’s structure because HR representatives will become aware of the need for change and better identify areas for improvement.

Good Preparation

So how do you prepare yourself for an exit interview? They are, after all, an uncommon practice and not many have had to go through it to be able to offer you adequate advice. Firstly, as you do anything else, remember its purpose. Good or negative, your reasons for resignation will facilitate change and prove beneficial for the next person who replaces you.

Your employer will want to find out how to improve the department's structure and perhaps even about perks your future employer offers which the company in question currently does not. A reasonable understanding of its purpose will help you prepare well for your exit interview. Good preparation for and delivery of your role in the interview is a crucial step towards leaving on a good note. This will assure you that your current company will be a good reference point to which your future company might go before they officially employ you.

Remain Positive

It is also important to remain positive and maintain a professional outlook. Balance honesty with respect to the colleagues whom you will be leaving.

An exit interview should not be a time to tattle about others even though you are seething with anger or bursting along the edges with unpleasant remarks. Think of an exit interview as a time to offer constructive criticism tactfully. Avoid using generalities such as “I don’t like my boss’ working style”. Instead, if you want to bring that point across, get to the crux of the matter and mention how he/she can go about improving. For instance, that he/she should work on giving clear instructions so that you don’t bear the brunt of uncertainty.

Leaving on a Good Note

Maintaining a professional outlook and leaving on a positive note also means you don’t have to rule out the possibility of coming back to the company in future. It also means that you will be able to communicate with representatives from the company elegantly should you encounter the need to at future networking events, where everyone is out to market themselves and create lasting impressions.

The prospect of an exit interview does not have to make you jittery. As long as you understand the purpose of the exit interview and prepare well to meet it, and keep your emotions in check, you should be able to progress through the process fast and leave the interview room – and the company – on a good note.

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