www.asktheheadhunter.com | November 18, 2008
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Should I do an exit interview?


I've gotten notice that I'm being fired. The HR department sent me a note scheduling an exit interview. What am I supposed to say, thanks for a nice time and for firing me, then spill my guts? What good is that going to do me? And when they ask me what suggestions I can offer for how they can make the company and my department a better place to work, can I tell them what I really think? What's your advice?

Nick's Reply
My advice on this topic is in the article Exit Interview, Stage Right. Exit interviews don't help you, and they can hurt you. If your employer really cares what you think, it should have asked your thoughts regularly while you were on the job -- not after they fired you. That's when it would have done you and them some good.

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What to say when
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It's the dreaded interview question: What's your current salary?

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-- Nick    

But I'll do you one better. I recently received a note from a Human Resources manager who nicely sums up the practice of exit interviews. I think he puts the subject to rest, and I thank him for his candor and for taking time to share his thinking with us.

Nick Corcodilos
Ask The Headhunter®


I read your article while I was looking for an example of an exit interview to use with two employees who have resigned in the past 48 hours. Both employees work in different parts of the company and never interact with each other. I was following the boss's orders to do an exit interview.

Well, I am not going to even print the questions I'm supposed to ask. I really have to agree with what you have to say. If we had asked these questions six months ago and taken action on the answers, we would not be where we are today. Electrical engineers are hard to come by and it will be hard to replace them.

I have been in this business for a long time. It amazes me that with all of the volumes and volumes of books and articles and papers out there, managers still do not understand the number one rule of business: "Take care of your people."

An HR manager should never be asked to conduct an exit interview. Instead, the department manager should be talking to his people every day. Department managers need to know what is right and what's not right with the people under their charge. They need to make sure that each employee enjoys coming to work. If people like coming to work, you will never have to ask them why they are leaving.

You've heard it a thousand times over, "People do not care about the company, until they know the company cares about them."

Tony Bonaro
Human Resources Manager

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