I was recently quoted in a CBS piece about exit interviews that encouraged you to share your real thoughts and feelings with the exit interviewer; I was the lone dissenting voice.
When you resign you are firing your employer, in effect saying, ” you aren’t good enough for me anymore.” This causes more work for your colleagues and isn’t appreciated much by anyone; especially your boss for whom your resignation is at best a pain in the neck and at worst a black mark: a manager’s job is to lose people on his or her timetable and not on yours.
Anything you say can be used against you
Exit interviews were conceived to provide corporate insights that might contribute to productivity and containment of costly employee turnover. Good concept, however from the POV of intelligent career management, saying anything beyond
the professional not-burning-of-bridges has no upside for you, and unknown downsides.
At exit interviews, you have no control over the understanding, interpretation or use of anything you might say, so speaking truth to power rarely has any short or long-term benefits for you; beyond the pleasure of venting and the lip service you’ll receive in return.
Any commentary on personnel, processes and improvements you are likely to have made and had ignored before; they probably aren’t going to be listened to now, especially from someone who is jumping ship.
Comments on “improvements” are particularly problematic because they are inherently critical of someone in a position of authority. In a worst-case scenario, that someone becomes aware of your constructive criticism and as you are no longer there…well you know how that story ends.
A career is a long time
If you were truly an exceptional employee who wasn’t adequately recognized or rewarded, well that’s often the luck of the draw. However, when the dust has settled and there is a noticeable void, the people who count will recall how valuable you were to the company. You will be remembered for how you performed your job everyday, not for what you said in an exit interview.
With good performance, these colleagues might one day try to recruit you, and would certainly look well upon your application to work with them again. This means you will have good references, and some valuable colleagues for your professional network. Why jeopardize the future by venting, for the nth time, the insoluble frustrations that eventually led you to quit, when logic tells you they will again be ignored or perhaps used against you in some way?
Enlightened self-interest says that at exit interviews, you should keep to “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” These protocols evolved for good reasons. Keep your exit interviews short, professional and avoid anything that could be used against you at any point ion the future. A career is a long time and you may well meet these people again.
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