So you’ve finally had enough of your boss and decided to look for a new employer. You want to leave a positive impression and continue to work hard to get things across properly.
Then someone from the HR team will invite you to talk about why you are leaving. What do you say during such a conversation?
If you want to stay on good terms, “only say nice things,” says Robbie Abed. He is the author of the 2017 book Fire Me I Beg You: Quit Your Miserable Job (without risking it all). Lying is allowed, Abed thinks.
“Some people want to play the hero when they leave and give all kinds of improvement advice. If you really wanted to change things, you would have done it before you fired,” Abed said recently in an interview with Insider. “They may ask if you also have constructive feedback. Then say, “No, not really. I really enjoyed working here and hope to be able to work with some colleagues again in the future,” said Abed.
The conversation with the HR team is probably not confidential. Chances are your boss will eventually find out, so negativity is of no use to anyone. It can even backfire and damage your reputation.
“From an economic perspective, it is unwise to leave on bad terms,” Abed said. “Career-wise, that’s the dumbest thing you can do.”
Give examples of positive experiences
Jill Cotton, career advice coach at career platform Glassdoor, also thinks it’s best to stay positive. An exit interview is not the right place to put your emotions on the table.
“Remember that the exit interview is not about you. It’s meant to help employers understand your decision to leave and learn from it,” said Cotton.
She recommends coming up with a few specific examples of positive experiences you’ve had at the company, such as learning a lot or growing in your role.
“Telling the company what they’ve done well is good manners,” says Cotton, who recommends taking notes so the conversation doesn’t wander off.
But what if you really hate your boss?
Even if you leave because of your supervisor, according to Abed and Cotton, it is still not wise to point the finger during an exit interview. “Then talk in generalities, so that you answer professionally but honestly,” says Cotton.
Abed thinks the HR department has long known about the bad things you have to say about your boss. “This is not new information for them.