What Is an Exit Interview and How Do You Prepare for It?

Employers often do exit interviews to understand why an employee is leaving their organization. The meeting is an opportunity for you to give feedback to help the organization improve.

There's no one-size-fits-all approach for an exit interview. But often, people express their reasons for leaving in vague and polite terms — so they don't burn any bridges.

However, it's also OK to be honest. For example, talking about pay issues or workflow and communication problems can provide your employer with meaningful information. Plus, it gives you the chance to create a better environment for the colleagues you'll soon be leaving.

Questions you're likely to hear at an exit interview include:

  • What made you decide to leave the job?
  • How do you feel about management, and do you have any feedback on how we can improve?
  • Do you think you received proper training?
  • Has the company supported your career goals?
  • Would you recommend our company to others?

How you answer these questions depends on your personal experience. But it's best to prepare what you say in advance, because emotions can take over, and you'll probably want to stay objective.

You might find these strategies helpful:

Be specific about the positives

When telling your employer what you liked about your job, get as detailed as possible. For example, who or what made your experience great? This information will inform your managers about what they're doing right so they can keep up the good work. It also sets a positive tone for the interview.

Be general about the negatives

Try to limit negative feedback. It's OK to highlight things that can improve, but it's best not to list every complaint you can think of — or go on for 30 minutes about how one issue made you feel. Instead, try to weigh your words and keep up the positive tone. For example, instead of saying, "I worked for you for 10 years and I didn't get promoted once," say, "I think there should be more opportunities for promotion in the company."

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