Exit Interview Tips: How to Leave Your Job On Good Terms

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11 Minute Read
Posted by Karyn Moyer
Exit Interview

Want to leave your job on good terms with bridges intact? Read on to learn more about exit interview questions, answers and tips to leave your job in the best way possible!

When we talk about a job life cycle, we’re typically laser-focused on the process of landing the job. We talk less about what to do on your way out.

Even if you are relieved to be saying your goodbyes, you don’t want to accidentally (or spitefully) light any bridges on fire. Your future career can be affected by how you navigate this transition.

As part of your exit process, there’s a good chance that upon receipt of your resignation you’ll be asked to take part in an exit interview. Don’t panic just yet! An exit interview is a great opportunity to provide feedback on your employer and organization as a whole in a way that is mutually beneficial.

The answers to your exit interview questions are meant to help your soon-to-be-ex company and ag recruiters improve moving forward. There will be some paperwork and formal documentation involved, but really it should be a productive conversation where you offer constructive feedback. It’s an opportunity for you to get some things off your chest you might have been holding on to in fear of repercussions.

You do have the option to just treat this as one last thing to check off your list, but going about your exit interview in this way is a disservice to both your employer and yourself. Leave on a good note with this bridge intact, with some parting words about how your employer can do better for their current and future employees!

If you’re unfamiliar with what a typical exit interview looks like, we’ll lay out some possible questions to expect in this next section. A little preparation can go a long way!

6 Common Exit Interview Questions

No two exit interview questions and answers will be exactly the same, but each one is driven by a common goal: to help your employer understand how they and their agribusiness are doing from your perspective as an employee.

Common exit interview questions you might be asked include:

1. Why are you making the decision to leave?

This one is likely a given. It’s important for your employer to know if you are leaving based on something that was in their control such as a workplace policy and could cause future employees to leave down the line, compared to something that is personal such as a misalignment of career goals.

Considering the tight labor market in the agriculture industry, it’s important for agribusiness and ag recruiters to know where they’re doing well and what they can improve on so they can increase retention.

Did you get a higher salary offer from a company? There is a chance your current employer will be willing to match it. Are you leaving because another employer has more appealing benefits?

If you have a problem with a coworker or are noticing something management is doing that is contributing to a negative situation, you should bring it up to your boss before you let resentment build-up to the point of quitting. Catch the problem while it is still small, and management will be grateful you brought it to their attention!

It’s important to be honest, but respectful. When you push aside the frustrations, anger, and other emotions, what is the underlying cause of this feeling? Be objective, not reactive.

2. How do you feel about management?

Again, this is a question that should be answered honestly, but respectfully. Even without fear of repercussions, you should be mindful of how your message will be received and communicate with purpose. Don’t just tell someone you don’t like them, no matter how much you don’t! Be constructive in your comments.

While most of us would have loved to tell an objectively awful manager in the past to *insert comment here* and slam the door on your way out, you need to be prepared for the fallout. Would burning this bridge be worth it? What does this accomplish, other than providing a short-lived and unfulfilling release of frustrations?

Even if you don’t think it’s likely, consider that you might need a reference from this person at one point or another. Now think about your answer again!

3. Do you feel that you were properly prepared with the training provided?

The way you answer this question will be helpful to future new hires and your employer alike. Do you feel like your expectations given your prior knowledge and skill levels were fair, or did you feel neglected and left to figure things out on your own?

The best answer to this question is as specific as possible so that your employer can make the appropriate adjustments. Don’t just say you didn’t feel prepared; say that you were expected to operate machinery outside of your skill level after only a brief demonstration.

4. What did you like about your time with us?

You might be asked this explicitly, but even if you aren’t it’s always a good idea to pepper in some positivity in your answers. Just keep it genuine!

Think about what stands out as unique to your workplace, especially aspects of your job that your boss or management directly contributed to. Your employers don’t want you to dread coming in to work - if there was something that made the company worth working for, they want to know!

At the end of the day, employers want a mutually beneficial relationship with their staff where the job gets done well and the employees leave feeling satisfied. When you tell them what they’re doing well, they’re able to not only maintain that habit or policy, but enhance it!

5. Did you feel fulfilled in your role?

This is a deep one, and can be answered from several different angles. Were you able to see the purpose behind your work, or did it feel meaningless? Did you find opportunities for advancement, whether in your overall career or in personal goals?

Long story short: did this role meet your needs and expectations, as determined by your values?

The answers to these questions can help your employer increase employee engagement and retention in the future. Don’t beat around the bush or lie to avoid making your employer feel bad, but rather see this as an opportunity to share insights that can help them move forward.

6. Would you recommend this company to your friend?

This is assuming that the role and company are in line with your friend’s career objectives. Could you in good faith recommend this company to them?

Again, it’s not helpful to just say “Absolutely not!” This statement lets your employer know you aren’t satisfied, but they already knew that this job no longer fully supported your needs in one way or another. Be specific, and objective!

If you answer “no,” tell your employer what would make you change your mind. Would you reconsider your answer if there was better work-life balance? Better communication from management? A change in the company culture?

If you could sense from these questions and their potential answers, there is a right way to go about this and a less-than-great way to go about this. It isn’t easy! Next we will go over some tips you can use to help you navigate your exit interview to help make the process more manageable.

Tips for Navigating Your Exit Interview

Even with a few sample questions you can reflect on and prepare answers for, there can be some jitters when you don’t know for sure what to expect. These basic tips will help you through your exit interview no matter what questions are thrown your way!

1. Come Prepared

Like we mentioned, anxiety often stems from the unknown. The most logical way to counter this anxiety is to come prepared!

Reflect on your tenure in the time leading up to your interview, not while you’re across from your boss.

Naturally, you won’t be able to prepare in a way that you have recited the answers to the exact questions you are presented with 100 times in advance. That isn’t realistic, and you can actually create more stress for yourself when you walk into the room and you are asked a question that you didn’t consider. Over-preparing in this style can cause you to choke up and give answers on the spot that you don’t fully mean, because you (ironically) weren’t prepared.

Instead of coming up with a script for potential questions, reflect on your time at the company. Come up with positive aspects and negative aspects backed by examples that go deeper than “I liked that” or “That made me angry.” Take notes so you can keep your thoughts organized and can refer back to them as needed!

When you take the time to organize your thoughts and feelings beforehand, you run a lower risk of speaking out of emotion and letting emotions take control instead of having a more productive conversation where you are in control.

At the end of the day, even if you can’t stand your employer, you don’t want to burn a bridge by being disrespectful. At worst, you end up sabotaging a connection that could have benefited you in the future, and at best you are left cringing years later over the fact that you let your emotions get the best of you.

Take the high ground by being respectful and demonstrating that you care about the good of the company, as well as the big picture. Commit to improvement, even if you are no longer going to benefit from it!

2. Leave Emotions Out of It

This one can be easier said than done, especially if you didn’t take the time to sort through your emotions ahead of time.

You want to respond, not react. When you let your emotions take the lead, you are at risk of saying things that you regret. Even if you have absolutely zero interest in ever having a connection to this company in the future (and seriously, never say never) you don’t want an emotional outburst to be the last thing they remember you by.

There have been countless accounts of people using former employers as references, and even coming back to their old company. Whether or not your old boss is still there doesn’t matter if you burnt that bridge, intended or not.

Be candid, but respectful and constructive. When you say negative things out of emotion, they likely won’t be heard anyways. Comment on the actions of your employer that ended up influencing your decision to resign, but not in a way that is pointing fingers. Present this information in a way that will be received as constructive advice on what not to continue in the future.

Ask yourself if what you are about to say is helpful, or if you just want the person on the receiving end of your answer to feel how much you disliked them or your job. Does your answer (or delivery of the answer) change?

3. Include Positive Comments

Think back to any time you’ve gotten feedback from a superior, whether it was a teacher or a boss. The times where you’ve gotten positive feedback along with negative feedback were probably the times you were most receptive to criticism, right?

Just like you don’t want your boss to ignore the good things you do, you shouldn’t just assume that management is aware of what they’re doing well either. What did you like about your role? About your workplace environment?

Management will want to hear about these things so they can keep doing them, otherwise they might not think it’s important to employees and neglect to maintain these norms. Did anything make you look forward to coming in to work, or make the days that were hard to come in more bearable?

4. Use Facts

Again, this is going to take some real work prior to the interview to sift through your experience at the company and figure out what served you and what didn’t.

Delve deeper beyond the knee-jerk emotional reactions that you had to different aspects of your employment. Try to pinpoint a cause that the employer contributed to in order to influence the outcome of that situation so that you can talk about it during your exit interview.

If your desire to work for the company was influenced by something you mishandled or something your coworkers mishandled, then maybe it isn’t relevant to your exit interview. However, if your employer facilitated a situation or contributed to dynamics that led to that mishandling and that subsequent poor outcome, you can have a real productive conversation about it. Be specific!

That being said, if you had a problem with someone in the workplace or something isolated happened that was not a systemic problem, the exit interview should not be the first time that your boss should be hearing about it. Address problems when they happen instead of letting resentment build until you decide you’ve had enough and throw in the towel!

In this case, we can almost guarantee that your employer will wish you had the courage to tell them sooner so they could solve the problem instead of hitting the point of no return.

With these tips in mind, hopefully you can feel prepared to make the most of your exit interview! Remember this is good for both you and your soon-to-be-ex employer. At the very least, you won’t feel bad about how you handled the situation down the line.

Concluding Thoughts

Exit interviews can be nerve wracking when all you want to do is pack up and say your goodbyes without having to rehash the reasons why you’re saying goodbye. But with the right preparation and pointers, your exit interview can be a productive conversation for both you and your employer!

It can be tempting to avoid preparing for the interview and just want to wing it since you’re on your way out, but know that taking just a bit of time to have your thoughts in order before sitting down with your interviewer will serve you both.

Not only will your nerves thank you, but it’s just always a good idea to leave on a professional note. Even if you don’t think you have anything to gain (or lose) by the quality of your exit, you never know when you will need to reach out for a reference or be presented with an opportunity to come back to your old workplace with the new skills you gained during your separation.

Not to mention, it’s always best to be the kind of person who strives to leave their workplace better than they found it. When it comes to agriculture executive recruiting, recruiters are always trying to improve and refine the hiring process so that the best matches are made for both agribusinesses and job seekers. Help them do their jobs well by fully participating in the exit interview instead of just checking it off your list!

Want to leave your job on good terms with bridges intact? Read on to learn more about exit interview questions, answers and tips to leave your job in the best way possible!
Karyn Moyer

Karyn Moyer

Karyn Moyer is the Client Success & Marketing Manager at AgHires. Karyn enjoys learning and discovering new ways to help job seekers and clients to reach their goals. AgHires helps agricultural and food production companies find the employees they need to run a successful business.