How to Handle an Exit Interview

By TERRA Staffing Group

Posted on July 7, 2023

Employer and employee sitting across from each other. You’ve given your notice and now it’s time for the final conversation with your employer: the exit interview. 

It’s believed that many departing employees find it difficult to give honest feedback during the exit interview—especially if it’s negative feedback—on the concern that it could harm their reputation and future career. 

But there’s nothing to be nervous about. Your employer wants your input. 

This is an opportunity to share your experience and potentially create positive change within the company.

To set you up for a productive conversation, we’ll discuss the purpose of an exit interview, how you can prepare and best practices to follow.

Tips for a successful exit interview

Understand the purpose of an exit interview.

Exit interviews serve both the company and the employee. 

For employees, the exit interview is a space where you can discuss the reasons you’re leaving, what you liked about your job and identify areas for improvement.

Your feedback and insight are extremely valuable to employers. It can improve recruitment and retention efforts. And has the potential to help shape the company’s future through a better understanding of onboarding, training and management practices. 

This is also a great opportunity for you to make a positive impression on your employer. Treat the conversation with care and show appreciation for what you enjoyed. That way, you can maintain the possibility of using this employer as a reference in the future and preserve any connections you made at this job.

Prepare for the exit interview.

Before the exit interview, take time to reflect on your overall experience—what you learned, what you enjoyed and what could be better. What are the key things you want your employer to take away from this meeting? 

Compile your thoughts and remember to be specific, actionable and objective. Avoid broad, generalized statements. And, where applicable, have data to support your feedback. It will provide substance and credibility to your observations. 

Don’t forget to give thought to the questions they may have for you.

Common questions employers may ask during the exit interview include: 

  • What prompted you to leave this position?
  • How would you describe your overall experience working here?
  • Were you given the tools and resources to be successful in your role?
  • What was the best part about your job?
  • What can the organization improve on?

Exit interview dos and don’ts


  • Approach the exit interview professionally and treat this as you would a job interview.
  • Express appreciation for the opportunity and highlight what was working well. 
  • Offer actionable suggestions for improvement that the company can use, such as recommendations for process improvement, company culture or work-life balance.
  • Be honest and give as many specific examples as possible to support any suggestions you may have.


  • Avoid using the exit interview as a platform to vent or show bitterness. Overwhelmingly negative feedback may not be taken seriously by employers.
  • Refrain from personal attacks. If you experienced a dispute with someone in the company, that’s a separate complaint that would be addressed prior to your departure. Focus instead on suggesting improvements that align with the company’s processes and objectives. 

Having an open discussion with your employer can be uncomfortable, but with the right preparation, you can handle an exit interview with confidence and ease.

Remember, your insight can shed light on organizational strengths and weaknesses and increase job satisfaction beyond your departure—and that’s powerful. 

If you’re interested in more career tips, check out our blog. And if you need help finding a job that’s right for you, contact us.

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