Exit interviews are worthless. Yes, I said it. They are absolutely worthless. Exit interviews are your one last chance to burn your bridge within the company. You know all those nasty things you always wanted to say to people while you worked there? Now is your chance to really let it all out, and you get to do it through a confidential processor (AKA human resources). Right? Wrong.
HR may make it seem that everything you say is confidential, and no one will ever know you said it except him or her. It's true, they don't tell other people exactly what you said, but trust me when I tell you that everyone will find out.
People think that the exit interview is your last chance to let management know that things need to change. Everyone thinks that they are going to be the change catalyst on the way out of the company. You're going to be the hero! The hero that changed the company for every other employee that decided to stay working at their horribly managed corporate job.
Here are my tips for an awesome exit:
- If you have nothing nice to say, then lie! (Check out this great Forbes article on exit interviews.)
- Everything you say can and will be used against you in the court of burning bridges. Nothing you say is confidential. I don't care what HR tells you. If you call your soon-to-be-ex boss an arsehole, they will tell your boss's boss who will then tell your boss what you said. They will all laugh, then think you're the real arsehole and we're all back at square one.
- Positive Pam through and through. Just say positive things. Negativity is not going to help the company now or later. Don't burn any bridges.
- Assume HR knows how good or bad the environment is. They generally know already and are probably planning an exit just like you.
- You are not a hero for leaving. You will think you're better because you're on to the next place, but the next place has its own issues! So don't act cocky in the exit interview.
- Don't. Burn. Any. Bridges. Period. You never know who you will run into and when you will need them.
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