Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Being Honest In Exit Interviews Is Pointless 550

Esther Schindler writes "Say that you're leaving a job, either on your own volition or because they decided it was time for you to 'pursue other opportunities.' Before you leave, the HR department wants to chat with you about the employment experience, in an exit interview. 'Oh goodie,' you think. 'Now I can really tell them what I really feel.' Don't do it. If your employer couldn't find the time to ask you what was good or bad about working at the company while you were still working there, writes Lisa Vaas, why bother with honesty and potentially burned bridges now? (If they did ask, give them constructive feedback before you leave this job; they deserve it). Discuss."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Being Honest In Exit Interviews Is Pointless

Comments Filter:
  • Easier headline... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:25PM (#40743959)
    Easier headline: exit interviews are pointless.
    • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:35PM (#40744049) Journal

      Say nothing but good things -

      Tell the boss how good they are even tho they are the worst type of asshole in the universe

      Thanks the co-workers for their generous help and guidance even tho they are clumsy back-stabbers

      Give great praises the company even tho they are giving you the pink slip

      That will make them happy, and happy people (often) do not find time to do more harm to you, leaving you plenty of peaceful time to look for new jobs

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:02PM (#40744277)

        Tell the boss how good they are even tho they are the worst type of asshole in the universe

        Ummm, no. Thousands times NO! In this instances say nothing. NOTHING!

        Positive feedback only feeds the trolls.

        • by humanrev ( 2606607 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:07PM (#40744323)

          Ummm, no. Thousands times NO! In this instances say nothing. NOTHING!

          Positive feedback only feeds the trolls

          Not always possible or practical. If you're in an exit interview and you're asked for your opinion on how your boss treated you while you worked there (regardless of whether it's your own boss asking the questions or not), you can't just say nothing... uncomfortable silence is uncomfortable. You could try saying "I'd rather not answer that", but giving that kind of response tells plenty anyway. So, might as well be nice and lie through your teeth just so that you can part on reasonable terms. You never know if you'll run across your former boss in the future.

          • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:16PM (#40744375)

            You never know if you'll run across your former boss in the future.

            Who cares unless he will be your boss in that future time.

            In which case, you already know how it's going to end so don't get stuck with him as a boss again.

            Just skip the exit interview and get on with your life.

            • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:46PM (#40744615)

              Who cares unless he will be your boss in that future time.

              You care, because one thing you do not want to find out is that the person you are applying for a new job with knows someone who knows your old boss. For the same reason you don't bad mouth your old boss in a job interview - no potential future boss wants a whiner on their staff.

              My GF has a particularly bad boss, who, as it happens, is very well known in both the community and in their field. Guess how likely it is that they're going to get a call when my GF is looking for work.

              But yes, you hit the nail on the head with

              Just skip the exit interview and get on with your life.

              unless you have a very specific reason to help them improve, don't. E.g. if your job was never intended to be permanent and you're moving on to somewhere else then sure, you can gently provide generic feedback, but generally you're going to get yourself in trouble opening your mouth.

            • by robthebloke ( 1308483 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:15AM (#40746063)

              Who cares unless he will be your boss in that future time.

              I've seen someone rage quit, declare his boss a moron, before starting work at a rival company. Six months later the two companies merged, and he got his old boss back. Funnily enough, he was made redundant during the restructing process.

          • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:28PM (#40744465)

            you can't just say nothing... uncomfortable silence is uncomfortable.

            that's your problem. work on avoiding having to give your power away.

            that's what is going on. they want to probe for weakness or reasons to 'mark you down badly'.

            nothing good comes from this. trust me. been working quite a long time in tech, in many of the top-named large and small companies. not once was an exit interview beneficial to ME. and I know for a fact that it has hurt me (a friend at a past job somehow got sight of my exit interview text and said that I was forever blackballed from returning to that place again).

            believe it.

            just say nothing or excuse yourself.

            its like getting questioned by a cop. nothing good can come from that. just say as little as you can and get the hell out of there as fast as you can.

            this is a no-win situation and they try to sell it as a way to 'fix' things that need fixing. there is zero truth to that, I assure you.

            please, for your own sake, bypass the exit interview. please. you will thank me years from now for this advice. I learned the hard way. you should not have to.

      • by Enry ( 630 ) <enry@wayga.QUOTEnet minus punct> on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:57PM (#40744681) Journal

        Say nothing but good things -

        Tell the boss how good they are even tho they are the worst type of asshole in the universe

        Thanks the co-workers for their generous help and guidance even tho they are clumsy back-stabbers

        Give great praises the company even tho they are giving you the pink slip

        That will make them happy, and happy people (often) do not find time to do more harm to you, leaving you plenty of peaceful time to look for new jobs

        As a manager of highly technical staff (and highly technical myself) no.

        Granted, I've only been doing this for a few years, but I really do want feedback, and not just when you leave. I can't answer every problem you bring to me, but I can at least hear you out and make suggestions or see what I can do on your behalf. Telling me I'm the greatest person you ever worked for is the worst thing to say if it's not true - it makes me think I'm doing a good job when I'm not. I realize not all managers are like me, but I have to imagine that many of us want feedback, be it good or bad. I want to make sure that you as an employee succeed at whatever it is you want to do. If that means you feel like you have a better opportunity elsewhere then that's my loss. I'll still be a reference if I think you deserve it.

        Anyone want to work for me?

        • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @10:12PM (#40744781) Homepage Journal

          I believe I would have no problems working for you, based on that. That said, I've had excellent bosses at terrible companies. There's more to it than your immediate supervisor.

    • by Macthorpe ( 960048 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:43PM (#40744129) Journal

      I don't know. I've had jobs I've hated so much that the exit interview provided some much needed catharsis to combat years of stress.

      • by mikeiver1 ( 1630021 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:58PM (#40744255)
        Been there, done that, nothing good came of it at all! Exit interviews are simply pointless for the exiting employee. They are simply another keep busy activity for the over payed HR tools. I have never seen any substantial changes come of the info gleaned from them and being critical of the company, management, and your fellow past employees can only result in trouble down the line. Remember that they can't speak ill of you but they can simply answer that they would not rehire you. The kiss of death for anyone looking for a job now days.
      • by mmarlett ( 520340 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:07PM (#40744319)

        I once told my employer that I was leaving in three months. I honestly didn't know what I was doing when I left, but it had gotten so bad for me that I just had to leave. Telling them that I was going was a great weight off my chest. About a month before I was going to leave, they scheduled an exit interview for me. I told them what I thought about what was going on. I also packed what little personal items I had and took them home with me. When I showed up the next day, I had been bared from entering the building except to go directly to HR, where the president was waiting to talk to me to tell me why my resignation was being accepted early. I insisted that he was firing me, because for me nothing was different this day than the day before. If knowing how I felt makes that much difference to them, then they are firing me. So, as was eventually backed up by the state employment agency, they fired me (and still insisted that they were just taking my resignation early). Did I burn a bridge? Not one that I ever wanted to go back across unless they were willing to rebuild it from their end. It was the environment that they created that made me decide to leave, and as long as it was as petty and difficult as it was when I left, I don't care to return.

        • by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:46PM (#40744621)

          I bet you're glad that's behind you! I've seen a few cases where 4 weeks notice was given and the employer opted to just pay out the remaining 4 weeks (or force leave to be taken) because of a perceived risk (employee moving to another job etc), but this option was in the employment contract. 3 months is a bit of a stretch though, especially as you thought you were giving them plenty of notice.

      • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:30PM (#40744475)

        if you need a shrink to talk to, hire one.

        go to a bar. chat with the bartender.

        find some person online and vent to them.

        venting is useful and needed.

        but never vent to HR.

    • by DukeLinux ( 644551 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:18PM (#40744389)
      True. I used to work for a large company with a big pointless HR department. While setting up the exit interview they asked me casually why I was resigning. I matter-of-factly stated that I despised my boss because he was totally incompetent. In fact, he was...a "buddy" of the CEO who needed a job after a messy divorce. My exit interview was cancelled. They do not like to hear such things. I was not worried about burning bridges...I took two weeks vacation the day I resigned so that I would not turn anything over. I was the Unix admin. F**k them. Every job since then I networked into. Yeah, I am lucky.
    • by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:24PM (#40744433)

      I don't think that's true. One of the biggest reasons people voluntarily leave a company is because they didn't like their immediate manager. That's true at bad companies, and it's especially true at otherwise great companies.

      One problem during normal employment is that, very often, you are supposed to take complaints first to your immediate manager. If you don't like him, you have to either go around him (which could get you in trouble with him) or go to HR (which could get you in trouble with him).

      That said, if you do work for a good company, they may not realize that your manager isn't very good at his job. Someone has to be promoted to manager before the company learns how he manages, and not everyone will be able to adapt to it.

      So, the exit interview could be a time to let someone at the company know that, while they are a really great place to work overall with an excellent business plan, communication plan, work/life balance plan, etc., you found yourself in a situation where you didn't care for your recent immediate manager and therefore chose to move on. I doubt you've burned many bridges saying something like that, and now they know. A good company might later be willing to hire you back, especially with all the nice things you said about them overall.

      • I worked at HP quite a few years back. I loved the team I worked with for many years, but due to lost outsourcing opportunities and such, the team got split up, so I took the opportunity to move to another team and expand my experience. Ended up being a bad call on my part.
        But for a couple of years, I built-up good experience and managed good projects, then they noticed and put me in a team where I was responsible for stuff I didn't want to do on the proviso that it was temporary. Temporary stretched for mo

    • by blk_prometheus ( 1171663 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @10:41PM (#40744957)
      Never, ever give an exit interview!!! Why? Because an exit interview is used by your company for legal purposes. Maybe you said in the exit interview that you had no concerns, and no negative things to say. And remember the HR representative is probably taking notes, and they may have a questionnaire for you to fill out. But then in the future maybe you decide to sue them for some reason. They'll pull out your statements from the exit interview as evidence that you have no reason to sue them. And yes, they do keep your exit interview records on file. Your own words would be used against you. Also, HR cannot withhold your final paycheck if you don't do the exit interview. That's the law!! I heard this on an NPR show about 15 years ago. The guest for the show was a woman who decided to do research on how HR departments work. While doing the research, she somehow got invited to a conference for HR professionals, where the presenter for the conference stated "It's Us against Them"!!!! Us is the HR department, which is there to protect the company!!! Them is you, the employee!!!! Don't drink the koolaid!!! Remember, HR is there to protect the company, not you.
  • by stanlyb ( 1839382 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:27PM (#40743971)
    Let be honest, you must lie at EVERY interview. Exit, Enter, Middle, Top, Bottom, Pointless, etc interview. You may NOT tell the truth. You MUST lie politician. At the end of the day, all the HR do believe that you LIE. So why disappoint them?
    • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:33PM (#40744035)

      Not just at interviews. Whenever talking to a HR drone you should lie. e.g. Going to lunch? Yes (actually going to the titty bar).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe you must but that is only because once you lie once you are on a slippery slope. Take the high road and don't lie. Liars will win in the short game but honesty is the best strategy for the long game.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:45PM (#40744151)

      HR are part of the executive, disguised as employees, basically a corporate Trojan horse. Never trust HR. They are there to advance your employer's interests, not your interests. In all your dealings with HR, only ever do and say things that will advance your own interests.

    • by blackbear ( 587044 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:53PM (#40744655)

      I never lie at any interview, nor on my resume. However, I VERY carefully weigh what I say before saying it in order to manage perceptions. Of course one must be completely forthcoming during an interview, yet say very little. Otherwise they'll move on the next guy until they find one who fits their template. This next guy is going to have roughly the same skills as you unless one of you lied on your resume. If you've been honest on your resume, then it may as well be you that gets the job. It makes no difference to the company.

      During employment you must continue to manage your image. And above all, never actually try to make things better. You were hired to do a job and it wasn't to fix the company. This is true even if you were told otherwise by the owner himself. There is a reason things are the way they are. "Good enough" makes money, and the customer is buying the perception of quality. If the markets were truly free, and the customer well educated then the lowest price for the best quality would win. Instead, a million small emperrors buy new high-priced clothes every day while government, investors, and the tech press cheer them on. If you're the guy trying to tell your boss that what he sees is what he gets, then you're going to get fired. Because while you're telling your boss that he's being stupid, the "smart" people are telling him he's brilliant.

  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:31PM (#40744021)

    Happened to me when they ran out of people to do the work.

    • by stanlyb ( 1839382 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:32PM (#40744023)
      Did you do the second exit interview the same way?
    • Very true. Be nice, be as honest as you can without stepping on any toes, and don't burn any bridges if you can avoid it. The world is much smaller place than many people realize, and even if you don't end up back at the same company there is a good chance you might end up with some of the same co-workers one day.

      • by khasim ( 1285 )

        The world is much smaller place than many people realize, and even if you don't end up back at the same company there is a good chance you might end up with some of the same co-workers one day.

        The co-workers who were decent probably had the same experience you had. So they can swap horror stories over beer with you.

        The other ones are ones you probably don't want to work with anyway.

    • I live in an area where all the IT people know each other. We all know which company is worth working for and which isn't, who pays well and who doesn't. The area is small enough where you speak ill of NO ONE, because tomorrow you may be interviewing with their cousin/sibling/friend.

      Sucks. Since the corporation is sh*tty to work for. But I can't burn any bridges.

  • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:34PM (#40744043)

    If it is someone that can actually make changes be honest. If its an HR person forget it.

  • I disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GrahamCox ( 741991 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:39PM (#40744087) Homepage
    I have to disagree. Being honest can serve two purposes: a) it can be extremely satisfying, if you have had a very bad time of things and they are coming to an end, and b) it can highlight bad managers or other employees that have caused you so much grief and they might be reined in so that they don't continue to make life hell for others.

    I had an appallingly bad manager some time ago who made my life hell with his ultra-micromanagment and his constant snooping. He finally drove me to leave and there was a bit of a showdown - I wouldn't exactly call it an exit interview but his boss was there. I told him exactly what I thought of him and why he was such a bad manager. I think he was actually surprised that his 'style' caused so much friction. Interestingly (though too late) several people came forward afterwards and told me they had had the same experiences with the same guy, and had asked for transfers to get away from him. My response of leaving was more extreme, but driven by the same problems. I heard a few weeks later he did get moved (not fired, unfortunately) and given a role that did not involve direct people-management. So these things can have a positive result for those you leave behind.
    • Re:I disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gordo_1 ( 256312 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:16PM (#40744369)

      That's not an exit interview. An exit interview is conducted by some HR flunky who has no real sway over anything. They're just doing their job and that typically involves recording your parting thoughts in your employee file. As the OP recommends, nothing particularly good will come to you as a result of being honest in an exit interview. Just smile and be friendly with the HR droid. You never know when you'll need a reference in the future and some anonymous HR person you never worked with looks up your file only to find a diatribe of complaints.

      If you need a cathartic release, you're better off to go home and bash a printer with a baseball bat or something.

      • by alcourt ( 198386 )

        The first exit interview I did was used by HR to write the requirements to hire my replacement. I was hired as a very junior SA, but did intermediate SA work, and the shop could no longer survive on a brand new SA. (I was the most senior SA technical skills wise in the division).

        In my case, the manager blew it and forgot to tell HR I was leaving until I went down to turn in my badge. This was typical for him. HR was rather upset I was leaving because I gave them support on their computers and printers,

    • by Phibz ( 254992 )

      I have to agree with this.

      I had a similar experience when leaving. I was caught in a three way battle between my boss, his boss, and myself. I was the lowest ranked and ended up choosing to leave.

      If you're considering "firing back" during an exit interview ask yourself the following questions:

      1. Given the politics at play and the person I am speaking with what sort of outcome can I expect?
      * There is no point in complaining if HR/higher up managers don't care or are complicit in the problems


  • The Breakup (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:39PM (#40744091)

    Baby, it's not me, it's you. If you'd have treated me better, I'd stay but this has been going on for too long.

    Look, I've already begun seeing someone else and I don't want to cheat on you. Let's still be friends. Really, there's someone out there in this big world who is just right for you but that's not me. I really want you to be happy but I want to be happy too. I gotta go. I'll pick up my things later.

  • Then set in the west.

    There's nothing for anyone to gain, no follow-up, no repercussions, etc.

    Move on.

  • Ask for money. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ryanrule ( 1657199 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:42PM (#40744121)

    Advice is not free.

  • I disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DeDmeTe ( 678464 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:44PM (#40744137)
    I had a worthless boss at a job I left, I requested an exit interview with the head of HR. They didn't normally do exit interviews, but I had been there for 6 years, so they wanted to know why I was leaving. Took a few months after I left to find time for a meeting, but I laid it all out. How I felt, why I left... 2 months later I got a call to come back. They fired my old boss after I opened their eyes to the BS he was pulling. I went back.. with a nice raise and a $4k signing "bonus". It works in certain cases. YMMV.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:46PM (#40744157)

    I worked for the biggest jerk in the world, and when I quit, I told H/R the things he had done to me, and urged them to not just take my word but to ask around.

    Later that week, they fired him and escorted him out (not typical there).

    The next day, my former coworkers had a going-away party for him, but they didn't invite him (and they did invite me).

  • Was nice once (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Killer Instinct ( 851436 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:52PM (#40744221) Journal
    I gave a good honest exit interview when i left my first fulltime software job.. Wasnt a asshole, and kept it professional, mixed in what i didnt like and what i thought they did real well. The company has hired me back 3 times. Did the same thing at all 4 exit interviews, and maybe if i ever need a job again (with this market one never knows) i will get hired back, and that is worth a lot to me personally. But theres been a couple other places i burned the bridge down from shore to shore, not even a splinter left. Assholes had it coming....and i delivered.
  • by DRAGONWEEZEL ( 125809 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:54PM (#40744237) Homepage

    If you're leaving otherwise secure employment for greener pastures, is it really worth your time to do an exit interview? If your leaving for money, realize that your time is now worth what you're getting paid at the new place!

    I say Politely Decline!
    Or if they insist, schedule one for the last day you are there, and don't show up.

    Here's why,
    1. It's too easy to say stuff you might regret. Your leaving, your shoulders are light, and your tongue is heavy. You never know who is friends w/ that HR guy.

    2. Even if you are rational enough to point out exactly what was wrong w/ this company w/o belittling anyone, How can you articulate that in a way that won't burn a bridge or how will HR interpret that?

    3. You can't resist telling them off? Write a letter to HR, and whomever else you think might need to know. It'll be quicker than an interview, and you can sit on it before sending it. You will probably have someone actually read it.

    4. Plan to leave like you're coming back next year. The grass isn't always greener (trust me, I made a lateral move for a higher end potential only to take a per hour pay cut north of 30%, My former boss only has to slightly hint that one day they'll need additional staff before I tell them I'm ready to come back. In my personal hypothetical future case, it won't be my boss, I'm actually quite fond of their leadership, it'll be the guy 2 levels up, who publicly mocked how we had to work all this OT, but not 1 breath later mentioned he's getting a fat bonus check for meeting our deadlines.
    (This really happened in front of > 75 people.)

  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:38PM (#40744539)

    ...and then be blandly pleasant. Otherwise, just don't do it. What are they going to do, fire you?

    I'm always amused at the naive goodwill that people extend to their employers. Most of us live in at-will states, without unions, and without any real workers' rights that can be exercised without spending more than they're worth retaining counsel. These are the people who can fire you at any time for any reason, but they want two weeks' warning if you leave on your own. Why give them extra freebies?

    Look, forget the employer-employee bullshit. You are a vendor, selling a service. Your employer is a customer. As long as they're buying what you're selling at the best price you can get (which includes work conditions and perceived job security as well as pay and benefits), the customer is always right. As soon as they stop buying, or you find someone willing to pay more, then go attend to your new customer. The old customer wants to take more of your time for free? Politely decline. You're running a business -- you -- and the only point in giving something away free is if it leads to another sale.

    Don't bother with work ethic or pride in your job at this point. Those are good concepts and they have their place, but that place is well before anyone starts talking about exit interviews. If you're leaving voluntarily, they treated you well, and you feel like extending the courtesy, sure. But even then, don't say anything that can be used against you later. It's just business, and that's how they see it. Go and do likewise.

  • by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @11:47PM (#40745249)

    A extremely wise manager once told me, people do not quit their jobs, they fire their bad managers.

  • by hengist ( 71116 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @11:48PM (#40745259)

    I've never told anyone how I've felt about working with them: "be careful of the toes you step on today, as they may be connected to the arse you have to kiss tomorrow"

  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @01:09AM (#40745747)

    Everything depends on why you are leaving.

    Case 1: You are leaving because you had a better offer from another company. In this case, you have nothing in particular to gain by telling the exit interviewer anything at all. You neither benefit by telling the truth nor by lying.

    Case 2: You have been fired. Again, you have nothing to gain by either telling the truth or lying.

    Case 3: You have been laid off as part of a reduction in force and there is a possibility that if business improves they'll hire you back. In this case you have something to gain by flattering the company and its people. Tell them how much you regret leaving. Tell them they were great to work with and you wish things were different.

    Case 4: You are leaving because you didn't like the working conditions, had moral objections to the way management runs the company, your boss was a giant prick, etc. You have nothing to gain by telling the truth or lying.

    But in the absence of having anything to gain, there are still motivations that come into play. Would you like to make working conditions better for the people you're leaving behind? Chances are you don't despise all of them. Identify the wasteful and counterproductive practices, useless or abusive bosses and meaningless makework that were part of your job. Tell your interviewer how they made your job harder and are still making others lives harder. Maybe, just maybe, this information will get to the right people, especially if you were a highly productive employee. Somebody knows that. In all likelihood your boss and maybe your boss's boss know that. And now they know they are losing productive employees in part because of their working environment.

    In most cases, you should lie about salary. Tell them you are taking a job that pays more, allows you more control of your work and offers more benefits. HR is always trying to find the lowest total cost of benefits and salary at which they can hire and retain the people they need. It is in all workers' best interest if their estimates are pushed to the high side. And the HR people at the company you're leaving talk, directly or indirectly, to the people at the company you're going to, and to every other company where you or someobody you care about might eventually work.

    • In one exit interview, I pointed out that the company's salary cost savings had resulted in a brain drain so extreme that it had put them in the bizarre position where someone could quit the company and then get rehired at a substantial increase in pay. I was told that this was impossible, and I responded by naming two people for which this was the case. (They had bragged about it.) HR rep was somewhat taken aback. I don't know if the policy was ever changed, though. The dot com boom was beginning and

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      In most cases, you should lie about salary. Tell them you are taking a job that pays more, allows you more control of your work and offers more benefits.

      LOL I told them I was taking less money. It was a dramatically better job, but corporate HR types would never understand the tech and lifestyle reasons. The lower salary blew their little minds. The department and the whole company was shutting down anyway, so its not like I had coworkers to defend, and the lower salary was still a very large multiple of unemployment, so I was happy.

      The best engineering solution is always the one with the fewest parts, smallest, cheapest and simplest. Oddly enough a exi

  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:10AM (#40746041) Journal

    I had the opportunity to burn bridges that needed burning in an exit interview once.

    I took complains, issues, and documentation. They took it seriously, and shook the hell out of the department when I left. My manager was "promoted" to a position where he had no staff. Soon after, he 'left.'

    Exit interviews are situational, like everything else in life. Treat accordingly.

  • by jools33 ( 252092 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @03:12AM (#40746329)

    It all depends on what actions are taken with the information - and who does the interviews.
    A few years ago now - over a period - my company lost several key developers - and tech experts. I don't work for our HR department - but I was working as a peer (with 15+ years experience) to those that had left. I rapidly got fed up with seeing some really good colleagues leave - and so I requested to as many as I could to exit interview them. Noone that I asked declined - as they knew that I wasn't from HR - and I explained that the main reason was to improve the company - and try to fix the issues that they had with it. I had quite a detailed set of questions - and collected answers in the same manner from all. Then I went through the answers - and came up with suggestions to improve things. One of the key things for our company was - that when tech experts / devs get to a certain level - the only career paths open to them - was management or sales - and most wanted neither. I started the changes such that we managed to introduce a technical expert career track - which means that you can now be a tech expert all the way up to the second to top level in our company (top level being director / CEO). Subsequently I got comments from those that left that if this had happened earlier - then they might not have left. There were many other issues that we took forwards and tried to address - some with success - some not. I've always believed that it is best to try to fix the company I work for before looking outside. If the company I work for ever becomes closed to these fixes - then I will up sticks and go elsewhere.

  • by bazorg ( 911295 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @04:20AM (#40746593) Homepage

    An exit interview is giving information for nothing in return. I appreciate much more when people post their own reviews on rather than just sharing their thoughts with HR.

  • Once in my life I was honest in an exit interview and it came back to haunt me later...

    I had an exit interview after I had worked for a automotive-related company in the Netherlands. At the time, it was promised to me that whatever I said in this interview would remain a private matter between me and the HRM department and would be used in an anonymous context to improve things. Even so, I refrained from making any remarks towards the functioning of individual colleagues or my boss, and only commented on the serious flaws in research and development strategy the company (and my department) deployed, which were actually the reasons I decided to leave. It was constructive feedback. No ranting, nothing of the kind. I outlined a strategy that would, in my opinion, work out. My arguments seemed to be taken seriously and I went away with the feeling that at least I did what I could to steer things in the right direction...

    About three years later I was invited back for an interview by a different department of the same company who had specific needs for my expertise and I felt that in this department I could do some useful work. However, before I was hired, I was invited by my former department head for an interview. In this interview the gloves came off: He had an exact copy of everything I had said in the previous exit interview before him and he was NOT amused. He said the interview was "to see if I had learned something in the meantime" but it was blatantly obvious that he was going to block me from being hired back. Didn't need to because I declined immediately after I learned how HRM had handled this.

    In the end, it turned out for the better, because it was one of the events that prompted me to start my own company and I am now making more money that I could ever have made over there and I am sure having a lot more fun doing it. Still it sucked at the time...

  • by digitalsolo ( 1175321 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @09:12AM (#40748177) Homepage
    I was very unhappy at my old job (with management). I was polite in my exit interview, but certainly did not give them any praise, including the people conducting the interview. I had no concern about the repercussions, simply because the company I was moving from was hated in the industry, and the company I was moving to had a long history of disagreement with them.

    In this case, the management of the company I was leaving telling the new company that I was "not a team player" and all the other drivel serves me better than a glowing review. Of course, it's worth noting that I had been a liaison to the new company prior to moving there, so they already knew I was a hard worker and competent.
  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @09:56AM (#40748779)

    Who can not be honest even when people are willing to listen and the chance of personal consequences is far-fetched, I have to say that your current employer is not losing anything by you living.

    Just speak your mind. The company may not put much weight on any one opinion, but they most probably do care about a statistical picture of people leaving the whole company or a specific department.

  • by BenEnglishAtHome ( 449670 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @09:58AM (#40748797)

    I used to work at a place where the local director was the absolute power king over every employee, every division, every task in the geographic area. He had to report up the line to someone from a different city, but if it happened in or around Houston he was responsible for it. Call him a "choke point" if you like but there was no "stovepiping" in the organization. Such would be impossible since he knew everything that was going on.

    He also knew every name of all 2000 of his employees, their spouses names, and most of their kids names. The guy was amazing to work for and almost no one ever left.

    Anyone who did leave (most via retirement) got an hour of his time. It was an unstructured time. He asked few if any questions. Anything you said was heard by the only person in the place who could unilaterally fix any problem. He was there to thank you for your years of service and hear anything you had to say.

    Understand, please, that this was a guy who fixed problems. I once saw him suspend an entire working group for a day and send them home because of the way they had treated a retail customer. He then called all the first and mid-level managers in that department and ordered them to drive in from their outlying offices, stand at the counter, and serve the walk-in customers for the rest of the week while he personally conducted customer service training for the suspended employees. Sweetest guy you'd ever want to meet but, boyohboy, he could kick ass when he was forced.

    Given all that, not much changed after he heard an exit interview because few people had witnessed enough continuing bad behavior to warrant a change. Still, the few bad managers we had would try, years in advance, to transfer out employees who were nearing retirement. If you were a jerk boss and you let someone retire out of your group, The Director would hear about you. And you would, quite likely, find yourself demoted to working alongside the people you used to boss around. If he was told about a real equipment safety problem, you'd see him talking to the maintenance guys and their boss, personally, to find out how to fix it. If he was told that the paper workflow in a certain place was screwy, you'd see him drop in to shadow some low-level employee for a day.

    Hell, he shadowed two field employees per year for an entire day of public interaction out of general principle. Truly a great guy.

    That was a quarter-century ago. I realize times are different now and people are much more mobile. No executive could spend an hour with everyone who leaves; there aren't enough hours in the day. Thus, exit interviews, even if they happen, are conducted by an HR drone.

    Exit interviews to an HR department are a waste of time. Exit interviews with the big boss can be something completely different.

The absent ones are always at fault.