4 Reasons to Do an Exit Interview (And When To Skip It)

exit interview

So you’ve given notice that you’re quitting your job and moving to your dream job across the street. Well, at least you’re moving.

Your manager has asked you to be part of an exit interview process. Your first reaction is, Why do I care? I’m not going to be here.

But before you rule it out, here are a few things to think about.

We all know why employers like exit interviews, at least smart employers.

They give them the chance to find out what’s really going on behind the scenes between their employees and supervisors and to make necessary corrections in policies, procedures or even supervisors.

But why should you, the employee, care? That’s a good question. Here are some reasons why you should choose to complete the interview process.

1. To Show Respect and Self-Respect

Even if you are leaving on slightly uncomfortable terms, the place you’re departing from did give you some things, including a paycheck and some more experience, good and bad, that you can learn from.

You need to show a little respect to your soon-to-be ex-employer. Not just for them, but for you.

How you act in the world, especially in a professional workplace, shows a lot about you. So if you want to be respected, show a little respect, even if you have to go first.

2. To Be Professional

One of the ways that you can show you are a true professional, whether you are a hair stylist or a master chef, is by always carrying out your responsibilities.

At work you want to be that go-to gal or guy who can be trusted because they are always there. If you have built up some of this business cred at your soon-to-be former workplace, then keep that up until the end.

Agree to participate in the exit interview process, prepare yourself for what you are going to say or what they might ask you, and go out as a pro. Because that’s who you are.

3. To Change the System

Surveys show that employers who carry out exit interviews actually listen and change their policies and practices as a result of the feedback they receive. They realize that you are likely to be more frank and honest at this interview because you have little to lose.

So here’s your chance to tell them what factors you considered or what event convinced you that their place of employment wasn’t the right fit for you. You have a captive audience to tell them that their bonus system is skewed or that they are making a big mistake by letting “that guy” run the warehouse.

Do it for yourself to get it off your chest. But do it for your friends who may still be working there after you’ve gone.

4. To Keep Your Bridges Intact

You may not be happy about how things worked out, or didn’t work out at this company. That’s too bad. You may think, I am so glad to be rid of all these people, and you have a right to that feeling too.

But don’t let these disappointments stop you from being part of the exit interview process. You never know when you might need a good word or a reference from this employer somewhere down the road.

What if they changed the management in your department next year and fixed all of your concerns and you wanted to come back? Stranger things have happened than that.

In business and in the workplace, you want to try and maintain good relations with as many people, customers and clients as possible. They might need you and you might need those bridges in the future.

When It’s OK to Skip the Exit Interview

There are also a couple of good reasons not to do an exit interview. If you have been harassed or bullied, and that person will be part of the process, then it’s wiser and safer not to participate.

If you have really been treated unfairly or badly, and you think that you should use the exit interview to tell them what you really think, think again. It would not be respectful or professional to engage in a screaming match on the way out the door.

Respectfully decline the request for an interview at this time, and move on to the greener grass on the other side of the street.

(Photo by Ann HungCC BY)

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and consultant specializing in workplace wellness and conflict resolution. He is the author of Change the Things You Can (Dealing with Difficult People). For more information about Mike please visit: Change the Things You Can


  1. aw on the 4th November

    I once declined an exit interview because I knew what was said would not be confidential. I had a lot of issues with the way things had been done thus why I was leaving. When coworkers had left we were all knew what was said as things would come out through HR (without names attached but it was obvious based on who had recently left) and yet no positive changes were made as a result. I may have jeopardized my chances of working for that organization in the future but that was a risk I took. HR was initially very shocked when I declined it and tried to be persistent in scheduling one. Eventually they understood that I was serious. On my last day both the HR director and CEO reached out to me personally to thank me for my service and to send their best wishes. I hope that the exit interview is a non-issue between us but I don’t know for sure.

  2. kristof somers on the 5th November

    I would not be so helpful to accept an exit in case 3, if the organisation doesn’t want me anymore I keep my ideas for the one that wants me. Sorry colleagues.No?

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