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Exit interviews: how to navigate sucessfully

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Exit interviews: how to navigate sucessfully

Karen Lloyd Career, candidate, interview...

When you utter the words “exit interview”, you get an almost universal groan of protest.

You’re leaving, presumably you’ve told your boss why when your handed in your resignation and now you must go through another interview when you may well be run off your feet wrapping everything up before you leave.

I can’t emphasise enough how important it is that you go to this meeting, and not just try to engage with the process but do so in the right way.  

I understand that people dread this process, it can be nerve wracking.  I find you end up in one of two places; either you want to blurt out your real feelings and reasons for leaving – a good rant can be so cathartic.  Alternatively, you may not want to engage or divulge your views and opinions at all.

If you are in the second camp, occasionally you might be in luck.  For some companies, it is genuinely a tick box exercise on the part of HR; they aren’t all that interested in hearing your views and just want to get it over with as much as you do.  For others however, they see the value genuine constructive criticism can bring and may try to draw you out.

If this is the case and you are more likely to be in the first camp, please, please, please, don’t give into the temptation to freely criticise andget emotional.  As much as it may feel good at the time, you must think about your long-term career.  People rarely take criticism well and the instinct is to go on the defensive which will rebound on you.  

Marketing, whether you are a B2B or B2C specialist is a well networked community, and you may find you live to regret hasty words later.  You just don’t know where your marketing career will take you long-term; back at the same company, freelancing as a marketing consultant, or in a senior marketing position where your reputation matters a great deal in the wider industry?  You don't want to leave a bad taste in the mouth!

Our top tips for a successful marketing exit interview

Leave on good terms: in any scenario, you want to leave on a good note wherever practically possible.  If you do find yourself in a position in an exit interview where you are genuinely being asked for your opinion, try to keep any criticism highly constructive. 

Keep to the facts i.e. leaving due to lack of promotional opportunities within the marketing team, or your earning potential is better in your new role.  Stay away from personal views on people or management style, the way marketing campaigns are run etc.  Where possible, focus on the positive rather than the negative; what did the marketing team do well, what made it a good place to work?

Don’t be on the defensive: be very aware of your body language – getting in a huff will leave just as much of an impression as your words.  

Prepare ahead of time: if you don’t trust yourself not to get heated, then have a good old rant to a (non-work) friend ahead of time.  Really vent your spleen and get it all out – you’ll find this can help immensely to keeping control in the actual exit interview.

Beyond the interview: keep in mind that your current marketing colleagues are just as important reputationally and from a networking perspective, as senior management.  Making sure you leave a positive impression behind you with as many people as possible will stand you in good stead for the future.