Exit Interviews

Ever been through an exit interview? You know, you have resigned your job and someone from HR, like me, gets in contact to ask you about your experience working at XYZ Company. Then someone from HR, like me, collates exit interview information and presents it to your Manager or group of Managers with the idea that they will take the information and use it to make XYZ Company a better place to work for all. That's the theory. It's one of those theories that HR people, like me, hold dear to their hearts.

Unfortunately the reality is somewhat different.

This week one of my lovely Sydney friends who has been working for a pretty crappy ordinary organisation secured a new role in a much less crappy ordinary organisation and you guessed it, has been asked to complete an exit interview. She wanted some advice. I wanted blog post inspiration. Here we are.

It would be fair to say that I feel a little, well a lot jaded about what happens with exit interview information. You see, HR people, like me, take the activity of understanding the experience of an employee and why they have chosen to leave an organisation quite seriously. HR people, like me, like to do things that make organisations good places to work. Feeding back exit interview information is one way to do this.

The trouble is that most managers and leaders tend to stay a while at organisations and some, not all don't realise that XYZ Company may not be the best most satisfying place to work. Some, not all don't realise or have forgotten that there may be other places employees want to work because, well...it's less shit!* So what happens is HR people, like me, present summarised exit interview information such as reasons for leaving, and  some managers and leaders, not all, reject the information. In these situations, HR people, like me, feel sad that the exiting employees have been honest and spent time helping to make an organisation a better place, but to no avail.

In one particularly memorable organisation, a senior leader actually lied about why another senior leader left. He said she left because she wanted to spend more time with her children and was spending too much time travelling and on teleconferences at all hours of the night. She was going to take some time out. She had actually found a much better organisation to work for, but the other leader couldn't comprehend that.

So what's my advice about participating in exit interviews?

  1. You are under no obligation to participate in one. HR people, like me, appreciate when you do though, and you really have nothing to lose.
  2. Be constructive. Doing a complete dump about how awful XYZ Company is doesn't really help anyone. Well it might help you a little. HR people, like me, are usually trying to do a good job for you and the company.
  3. Burning your bridges is never a good idea so don't do the group email rant. The CEO and your work mates will just think you are a clown, even if they agree with what you have written!
  4. Don't expect anything to change and you are leaving anyway
What is your experience with exit interviews?

*less shit is an important HR term