Lie Like Hell During Your Exit Interview

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.

Lifehacker's Evil Week is all about topics such as password cracking, social hacking and other 'questionable' tricks. Knowledge is power, and whether you use that power for good or evil is in your hands.

Don't Lie on Your Resume, But Lie Like Hell During Your Exit Interview [Robbie Abed]

Robbie is the founder of a Chicago Mobile App Development Company, which helps startups build mobile products that customers want. Send him a note if you're interested to learn more.


Comments

    This is poor, generalist advice. The company I work for takes exit interviews very seriously and they have helped turn around poor workplace culture into a what is now a very enjoyable place to work.

      Your company takes advice on how to improve from the people who are leaving? Good luck with that.

        Why shouldn't they? It's the incompetent people who are desperate to hold on to their jobs and will stay somewhere regardless of how bad it is.

      We can't all work for McDonalds...

      but seriously, that's actually pretty cool. :)

      Last edited 18/10/12 2:02 pm

    Good advice. If you ever need to go back and even if you do not. You should have tried to change things whilst employed, if you failed an exit interview is not going to sudden;y provoke change,

    F that. I used my exit interview to finally tell my boss what I and most other thought of him and his disgraceful behavior and haven't looked back! best day ever

      Until you re-apply for a job there (because you need one and the boss you hated was fired anyway) and have HR tell you "oh, says here you badmouthed Jim Jimmers before you left. Homey don't play that. You're pre-fired!"

        @booby, even worse you just admitted to telling him what other people thought of him! I'm sure your ex-co-workers loved you for that.

        This is excellent advice. Not to long ago I worked in an extremely hostile office environment. People were fired without warning or explanation. The company regarded us as ungrateful for the generous pay and benefits we got. HR was not on our side. They were the company's Secret Police.

        During my exist interview I said jack-shit. The HR guy actually commented that "you don't say much do you". He knew I was holding back. He probably hated the place as much as I did. The worse thing I said was 'you need to communicate with your staff more'. It wasn't worth it, I was still waiting for a final paycheck and tax claim form from these people.

          Actually they commended me for it, I'm still in good contact with most of them. I guess its hard to understand without full disclosure. He was a pig of a man and his behavior would never have be tolerated outside of the office

            if everyone wanted him out, why were you the one leaving? sounds like an ideal situation to try a power play against this person and have them demoted/fired, particularly if you've already decided you're willing to leave and trash them on the way out.

    Be truthful, but not too truthful.
    Pick the holes in the systems, not the people.

      which could be dangerous as well

      unless you know who build the "systems" in the first place, it could be the big boss, or the HR people themselves

      in my work industry, everybody knows everybody, unless i'm planning leaving the industry, i'll probably lie my arse off during exit interview

    This is brilliant advice. As someone who has seem others rejected because they've badmouthed their last companies, it's my mantra.
    Yeah, calling your boss a douchebag is going to feel good - especially if he or she is. Just remember that this boss and HR are connected - possibly much more than you - and to much more powerful people than you.
    Your cat, on the other hand, has no boss contacts. General Furrington may judge you, but he won't got spreading that :D

    That's good advice... NOT! The article is in many ways meaningless.
    If you tell them how things were, they have a laugh at your expense and do nothing and burn the bridge
    If you do not tell them how things were, the Office Physcopath (i.e. your Boss) gets away with it and will hunt you down anyways, so the bridge is burnt even if you did not burn it.
    The HR do not work for you as many think, they are the equivalent of Lawyers, they work for the company ensuring that you do not litigate and how they can get you out of there as quick as possible. So in many ways, they work for your Boss, the only time they work for you is when you are disciplining someone that reports to you. They need someone to hang and that someone is always the littlest fish in the chain of events.

    While the world is supposedly all goody goody and nice (as long as you keep popping those prozacs or equivalent), but that is not the reality.

    this couldn't have come at a better time. I'm leaving my current company next week. I don't want to burn any bridges so i'll just withhold my opinion. Dont want to burn any bridges.

    I never met an HR person that I thought was even worth a pinch of shit. I suggest this is wise advice. Based on my insider knowledge of a few large companies.
    Also, if you want to really get a rise from HR, ask them why your induction brief about harassment and equality is all about discrimination against women, with nay a mention of religion, skin color, ethnicity or physical discrimination. That's when you find out that the feminists in HR (as are all feminists) just a chauvinist in a dress. I call them female chauvinists.

      Exactly my thoughts. I was so prepared going to my last exit interview. And the HR woman was sol reluctant to know my thoughts I felt like punching her.

    Wow. Isn't it a wonderful world where we all have to behave like sniveling sycophants to those who have placed themselves above us, never saying what we truly think for fear of dire consequences. No way that's going to continue the trend of our rights and our income being slowly chipped away, even as the hours we work increase. Nope. No chance at all.

    Burn all the bridges!

    I agree with Robbie on this one. It gets around. People don't want to hire someone with a reputation for being a total jerk when they leave a company, even though I'm sure it was all 100% deserved. This isn't about protecting your boss from hurt fee-fees, it's about being professional and polite at all times. Positive people get hired. Smart people get hired. People who don't know when to be positive and professional are possibly not the smartest.

    How depressing to read such cynical and self-defeating advice. If the writer feels that exit interviews are being conducted so ineffectively, surely it would be more productive to write an article critiquing poor procedures on the part of companies rather than encouraging interviewees to disengage from a process which should exist to identify and address issues for the benefit of those who aren't leaving? If you think an exit interview is designed to give you a chance to bad mouth your boss, maybe you need to learn how to communicate your feelings without being personal and vindictive? If you don't tell the truth you can't expect anything to change, just try not to be a jerk while you're doing it!

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