More than a decade of grousing about product management

How to Handle your Exit Interview

burning bridge
Burn it all to the ground

Exiting your job? Here’s why you should be careful and positive during your exit interview.

The Dude here. If you haven’t noticed by my tweet referencing “short timer’s” syndrome, I have received and accepted an offer at a different company. My days at “Land o’ Dysfunction” are drawing to a close. Will I be going to a place that will reduce my impulse to “snark”? Time will tell.

But today, I would like to address the standard “Exit Interview”. This is the opportunity to “open up”, “Be Honest”, and “Tell it Like it is”. But being hypercritical might not be in your long-term interest. The temptation to flame your jerk-store boss may be great. Or perhaps the policy about never giving raises once an employee hits the midpoint of the range. Or the myth of the “job classification” and pay scales. Whatever irks you and causes you to leave. But apart from catharsis, what benefit is that?

If you use the exit interview to whine incessantly, you will be classified as shrill, somebody they will be better without. If you use the exit interview to rail on your boss’s unfairness (favoritism, incompetence, et. al.), you will be classified as an antisocial, who can’t fit in.

The truth is, it is better to suck it up, be positive, focus on how you are going to a place that fits you better. Lie about your boss, the working environment, the senior leadership. Hide that shit, bury it, bury it *deep*.

Oh, but the HR person conducting the interview tells you to open up. To tell it how you see it? The truth is, regardless of what you say, and how you unload your trash, the company and its polices aren’t going to change. 1 person, 10 people, 100 people, all saying the same thing? Not one manager will be reprimanded.

“Why should I not unload cathartically?” you might ask. Well, if you get too vehement, you will be burning a bridge. Someday, some future potential employer will call your current employer for a reference, and if you go too hard, you will be labeled “not eligible for rehire” – codespeak for “hire this Dude at your own risk”. Second, be the better person. It wasn’t a fit for you, but unless the company is flaming out, a lot of people will still be employed there, and need to keep getting a paycheck.

But but …

If you still want to rant and rave, there are anonymous outlets. Glassdoor is a great place to do research on a place you are considering, and an even better place to rant on. Anonymous, honest, and amazingly accurate reviews of companies (they got the “it can take 3 months to get a new laptop” spot on. It did!)

You have already escaped the insanity. You weren’t fit for their mold. Move on, build the bridge instead of burn it, and look forward. One day, you will regale the young upstarts about how you had to walk uphill to work, both ways, in your bare feet. Hey, get off my lawn!

Written by

A crusty veteran from the product management trenches. Plenty of salty language, references to cannabis, and a connoisseur of White Russian cocktails

View all articles
Leave a reply

Written by pmdude