So I just quit my job (on good terms), but I may “have” to go back for my exit interview. Why? Why do I need to go to this? They can’t legally withhold what they owe me, right? And what benefit to me is there to sign their papers?
In other words, does the exit interview benefit me at all? And is there anything they can keep from me if I don’t go?
IANA HR person, but if you haven’t received your final paycheck, they could drag their feet on sending it. This happened to a friend of mine who worked for a particularly shitty company. They took about a month to get his money to him. This would be illegal anywhere in the US, but you know how people (and companies) are.
If you already have your money in hand the only thing they could do is give you a bad reference in the future. Of course since you just got a new job, you won’t need a reference any time soon. In some places it might be unlawful for them to do it, but (again) you know how people are.
I’ve used it as an opportunity to vent, although in a civil manner. I’ve left two jobs on good terms and wanted to make it clear to them why they lost me (both were really unhappy to see me go). At the exit interview I was able to voice my displeasure a little more candidly knowing that there was no chance of knee-jerk retribution on their part.
Maybe the company managed to take my exit criticism constructively and maybe, just maybe the workplace changed for the better as a result. It won’t have helped me any, but it might just help a few coworkers that I left behind.
It’s a good practice for the company to have, because it costs relatively little and sometimes you learn something useful from a departing employee. For example, a company may learn that a competitor is expanding and offering higher wages to lure away its employees. If employees leave from multiple departments, that might not become obvious to the company as a whole without exit interviews. Also, if multiple employees mention something like an unreasonable schedule, that might eventually result in a change. And once in a while a disgruntled employee will drop some major accusations, giving the company a chance to investigate before something goes to the authorities.
That said, you have no requirement to be an active participant. If you are leaving on good terms, that does mean going, signing the paperwork, and generally making small talk. Say something positive about your new job (good pay, shorter commute) and let it go at that. Getting all pouty about never setting foot in the place again doesn’t give the impression of being a professional leaving on good terms.
In my workplace, a pattern that emerged during exit interviews gave the higher-ups the “from the horse’s mouth” ammo they needed to address a problem that everyone “knew” about through second-hand and anecdotal info.
I would estimate that my exit interviews have been 25% telling them why I quit, etc. and 75% administrative stuff: the future of my insurance coverage, how much of my 401k was vested, accrued vacation days, remaining pay to expect, etc. They also made sure my contact info was up to date and let me know their policy on future re-employment (whether my seniority would come back, etc.) I also got them to sign that they’d received my access card and corporate credit card.
This. I got to use the “You’ve gone totally FEMA and I don’t care to participate” line I once promised someone here that I would use when I finally quit. That particular company just gave me a glowing reference.
Once (25+ years ago, I was young, dumb, and fired) the HR lady told me how to apply for EUI, COBRA and what to say on my updated resume. I suspect she had to use her own advice shortly thereafter. If nothing else (besides winning the UEI dispute) it gave me a basis for understanding the bare bones legalities when I went into business for myself.
Exit interviews are mostly BS, but not always. If it was a not acrimonious departure, go but be wary. Not paranoid, just pay attention. if it was not a warm fuzzy parting of ways, skip it.
I agree that it’s pretty pointless in most cases - I suppose there are boss/employee relationships frank and open enough for the process to be occasionally productive or insightful - other than that, it’s just a bridge that’s probably best crossed and left unburnt.
If you do skip it, I’d suggest doing so as politely as possible, in writing.
It really depends on the work environment.
Private sector, I cannot comment. Very limited experience there.
Public sector? It can be quite different as those employees have stronger rights than those in the private sector.
From my personal experience. Government appointed quasi judicial type President of a judicial body that’s an off shoot of a major ministry.
The statutory appointee had a bipolar type personailty disorder who openly denigrated staff he didn’t like. Made sneering remarks, some sexual, some not. Treated those he regarded as the ‘out group’ like crap. Openly mocked those he didn’t like. Hounded his top administrators to “sack them” despite knowing that the power to ‘sack’ doesn’t exist, except with agency staff.
Threw tantrums when he couldn’t get his way.
All of this was illegal.
Statements taken by the main HR from Exit Interviews of those who resigned - lots of plotting, scheming and urging by staff (‘yes, you must go to the Exit Interview’) - statements accumulated by HR over a period of three or four years with a ‘WTF’ do we do next?
Bear in mind that it’s all potentially embarassing to the top government officials and would make a juicy story with the press, hence the hesitation in taking action.
Things eventually come to a head, go totally pear shaped. An investigation commences. Statements are made before witnesses and signed transcripts made. The problem person is forced to see the light and leave the scene, usually with much emotional turmoil with the remaining staff that takes months to settle down.
I’ve lived through a situation like that as one of the executive staff. Believe me, it is something awful to go through.
As for the private sector? I suspect you would only need to go for it if you needed (1) a future reference or fall back position or (2) wanted to shaft a hated supervisor.
Covering their ass from what? How?
The purpose of an exit interview is theoretically to understand why you are leaving so the company can make improvements in the organization.
As the interviews are usually conducted by HR, most people generally give vague, neutral answers, and the information collected is never really analyzed or used to make any actual changes, they have become a pointless corporate ritual.
I think you people fail to realize just how little power HR has in a large company. They don’t hire and fire people. The hiring manager of the group does. HR just takes care of the paperwork.
As for references, your reputation is established by the people you work with and for, not by your companys’ HR records. The company will generally just provide a neutral reference stating the dates you worked there and your position.
I mean what do you think will happen? Someone will say “yes, this person is immensely qualified and has an excellent resume, however they refused the exit interview in their last job so I think we’ll pass.”?
The exit interview gives you a chance for passive aggressive revenge. Have Taco Bell for breakfast on your way in, and spend the interview releasing silent but deadly farts. Keep a strict poker face throughout, although if you can time them so they strike just as the interviewer finishes a question (e.g. “how would you describe the company culture?”), you are permitted to arch an eyebrow.
In theory, an exit interview might benefit both parties. In reality, however, my experience is that it is mere window-dressing. Yet one final pointless “meeting” to sit through, avoiding meaningful participation, with the main goal of not causing yourself harm.
The instances in which honesty and openness would be of any benefit to the exiting employee or any of his ex-co-workers would be few and far between indeed. Always a good idea in life to not burn any bridges if you can avoid it. You no longer work there. However screwed up the place is, it is no longer your problem. No reason to create even the tiniest possibility that anyone there can cause you the slightest inconvenience in the future.
My favorite exit interview story was one of the first I encountered in my professional life. Just a couple of years into my career one of my co-workers I was closest to quit for various reasons. During her exit interview, she thought it would be of value to management to know how bad morale was among the staff in response to specific developments. The response was a tirade including words I recall 2 decades later: “I’m sick of hearing about how bad morale is around here!” Yep - ignore it and it will undoubtedly improve!
Most of the time you want to tell them a narrative, but they want you to fill out a multiple choice form. If it can’t be reduced to a number, they don’t really care. And they don’t care about the number either, because hey, its just a number!
I haven’t had too many exit interviews - I remember one that had more to do with sign paperwork, etc. Since it was with the HR person.
I did write my manager’s manager’s manager (it was one of those companies) an exit letter on leaving that job. Told him why I was leaving, who he was underutilizing, who he trusted that he shouldn’t. It was a fairly professional letter, and many of the changes I hinted at came about in the next reorg. So I do believe if you are addressing the right person AND give a damn upon leaving about the organization (and you have no obligation to), they aren’t a waste of time.
Bottom line best advice: If you made comments and suggestions during your tenure there, and it was roundly ignored, frowned upon or shot down, there’s pretty much no point in mentioning these things again in an exit interview. If you’re leaving on bad terms, skip the whole thing.
Probably one of my most useful exit interviews was for the Armored job. I got a chance to set right some misconceptions my Ops Manager had about why I was quitting and make some points about stuff he just didn’t see. He had believed that I was leaving because of my grumpy a-hole partner, who had been his partner when he started with the company. He hated the guy and was looking to use my departure as an excuse to fire him.
But no, I thanked him for supporting me in conflicts with the guy and suggested that he keep doing so for whoever else got saddled with him; and made it clear that the real reason was Pay For Risk. I worked a crowded downtown route and we’d had three close calls with potential robberies in one month. Between that and driving a 10 ton truck downtown, the long term risk of being killed or killing someone else (either with gun or truck) just wasn’t worth the low pay.
We ended up talking about various things and just shooting the breeze for something like two hours.