Let’s set the stage, shall we? You’ve put in your two weeks’ notice. Your heart eyes are set on that new office with a killer view. As you’re busily tying up the loose ends of projects you own, a calendar invite titled “Exit Interview” invades your inbox. What in all the hells is this?

*Tentatively accepts*

If you didn’t know, now you know – exit interviews are a thing.

Before cutting ties with my first job, I had no idea that exit interviews even existed —let alone that I’d be wise to prepare for one. I genuinely thought you put in your two weeks, packed your lava lamp (am I the only one?) and desk succulents up into a perfectly sized “I’m leaving this place, betches” box, and throw the peace sign up in the air. Easy peasy.

I was naive to the fact that I’d actually have to confront the reasons why I was leaving and talk about my feelers toward the organization.

As a part two to my previous blog, Exit Strategy: Leaving Your Job Gracefully, I break down what you need to know to master your exit interview and head to that next chapter of life not looking back.  

You will have to answer uncomfortable questions

Depending on the relationship with your now ex-company or the maturity level of your HR manager, things might get a bit uncomfortable. Be forewarned that you will be asked mildly invasive questions like:

  1.   Why are you leaving the company?
  2.   Where are you going and what can this new opportunity provide that we can’t?
  3.   Would you recommend our company to your network?
  4.   What did you enjoy the most about working here?
  5.   What did you enjoy the least about working here?
  6.   Were you given the adequate tools to succeed at your job?
  7.   Were you comfortable going to your manager to discuss work issues?
  8.   Do you have any advice on ways the company could better operate?

Tip: Be honest and keep your answers short and sweet. A little thing called LinkedIn exists, so they WILL see where you’re going eventually. Put the ‘blame’ on the new company, not the old one. Explain that you were presented an opportunity elsewhere that you couldn’t pass up to further your career development.

Create a list and check it twice

Channel your inner adult and come prepared with a checklist of the following:

  1. 401K: In what manner will my 401K be rolled over? What percentage do I get to take with me? Can I have the contact information for my current 401K support?
  2. Health Insurance: When is my last day of coverage? Will there be a gap in my health coverage? If so, what are my COBRA options? (COBRA: Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, requires continuation coverage to be offered to employees when group health coverage would otherwise be lost due to certain specific events. This will be emailed to you or mailed following your last day of employment.)
  3. Paycheck: When will I receive my last paycheck? Will it be direct deposited into my account or will I receive a check?

I know these might sound like *duh* questions. But trust me, you’ll regret not having them written down to keep you on track and ensure you’ll truly be done once you walk out those doors.

This isn’t a roast or therapy session

Reiterating my tips above, this is your opportunity to provide constructive feedback, not light the company on fire. Exit interviews are not the place to be cruel as there literally is no benefit to this. You’re already winning, you already have the upper hand here, so no need to assert your dominance by blasting HR lady Patricia.

That being said, Patricia is not your therapist. Try not to do the feels spill. You know, where you take someone on your life journey and how “because of Uncle Rodney, I can’t work in an environment where dogs aren’t treated as equals.” She doesn’t need to know your life story or every detail as to why you picked your new position.

Also, no crying. Please don’t cry.

To sum it up: be honest, don’t make it personal, keep your responses short, and provide constructive feedback that the company can actually act upon – if not for the sake of karma, but for the people that still work there.

Say Thank You

I don’t care how much you hated the work, the management, the office decor, WHATEVER – please remember that at one point these people gave you a shot. They plucked you from the patch and (kinda) did their best to groom you. Chances are you’re a better person than you were when you started.

Close out your exit interview by saying thank you and acknowledging what the company has done for your career. I’m telling ya, a little “thank you for all your time these past few years, Patricia” will go SO far. As you’re walking away, she’ll be thinking you’re the sweetest thing. Only you will know better..

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Emily G

Emily G

I'm Emily G$ - the dollar sign is silent. I'm a public relations specialist at a global firm by day and by night you can find me on a Dallas rooftop patio sipping Sauvignon Blanc. Writing, reading, home decor and Game of Thrones are a few things I'm particularly passionate about. I've caught the travel bug and I'm a big fan of the in-betweens, the time it takes to get somewhere. I also believe that Sundays, old bookstores, iced lattes and bad jokes can cure just about anything!