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How To Get Through An Exit Interview Without Burning Bridges

There are many epic “I Quit” YouTube videos out there. If you value your career, I suggest you leave gracefully. One day you might just: 1) have to come back to the department, 2) need a recommendation or 3) run into one of your boss’ old Air Force buddies who *just happens* to be the hiring manager for your next position. 😮

Most of us have been through an exit interview at some point in our careers, but for those who haven’t (or need a refresher), here are a few things to consider.

What do you say?


HINT #1:
This is not the time to tell your boss how much of a jerk he was.
(Fight the urge!)

The conversation may start off like this:

Boss: Hey ____, do you have a minute?

You: Sure, do you want to meet now?

Boss: Yeah, step into my office.

You: *In thought* Shit!

*Goes into office*

Boss: So, you got a new position? Congratulations!

You: Thanks! Yeah, it was a good opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

Boss: So, what will you be doing?


HINT #2:
This is not the time to describe the current position as “überboring”.

What they’re really trying to find out is:

  • Why were you looking for a new job?
  • What was missing in your current position?
  • What skills did you want to develop?
  • Did you express your desire to develop new skills during your performance management (PM) review?
  • Why didn’t you say anything sooner?
  • What did you dislike the most about your current assignment? (It’s a trap! LOL)
  • What can they do to make the position better for the next person?

This conversation can be easy. Here are a few tips:

✓ Tip #1: Always keep the conversation positive.

Never blame others for your decision to leave or mention anything else you may have disliked about the position. Some people are very vocal about this, however I tend to focus on the positives: i.e. I got along well with my teammates, I learned something new, etc.

✓ Tip #2: Reinforce with another positive spin.

S/he might say, “You were probably bored/uninterested/annoyed, etc. in this position…” It’s tempting to agree, but don’t give in. It’s obvious. You would’ve never started the job search if you were truly happy.

You could say something like, “As a member of the team, I felt that it was my responsibility to perform to the best of my abilities to support the organization”.

This is a *cough, bullshit* response. Your manager will know it, but that’s ok. She might want to dig deeper. You are not obligated to go deeper if you don’t want to. Be direct, yet professional.

✓ Tip #3: If you’re leaving for personal/ family reasons, say it!

In the past, I left a really cool job as a Flight Test Engineer in Maryland to go back home to Missouri. (What the hell was I thinking?!) So, when I was offered a good position in Missouri, I took it. At the time, my (ex)husband and I wanted to be closer to family. My Maryland manager was surprised and seemed a bit offended that I was leaving. I told him about family in Missouri, etc. I can’t say that our relationship was good after that, but it was the best thing for my life at the moment.

In my experiences, I’ve quit many jobs for many different reasons. Most times, it was on good terms and on the rare occasions my manager may have been upset or disappointed, I realized it wasn’t my job to worry about that. Understand that if the move is going to improve your quality of life, your personal relationships, your bank account :), or anything else, you owe it to yourself to move!

If you haven’t already, download the 100% FREE eBook, “Career Planning Workbook for Ambitious Leaders: Build Your Dream Career in 3 Key Areas“. 

What can you do to gracefully leave a job/company?

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