What to expect from an exit interview

Q: I have just given my notice after working for seven years
at my current company. I was told that I should schedule an exit
interview with corporate HR. I have never participated in an exit
interview. What does this typically entail? If I share concerns about my
manager, do they remain confidential (staying only with HR) or are they
shared with others? I may need him as a reference one day in the

A: Congratulations on a giving your current company a good run of
time! Seven years is an admirable length of service in most industries.

Most companies conduct exit interviews with employees leaving the
company for a variety of reasons. One reason is that they want you to
understand how your resignation will affect your pay and benefits. Some
companies also want to solicit your feedback on the role, work
environment and supervision received.

Sometimes your final paycheck may not look like your regular
paycheck. If you are owed vacation time or paid time off (PTO), you
should understand how and when that will be paid out. Or you may owe your employer vacation or PTO that you used but did not earn.

When will your benefits will end? Will your medical benefits continue
through the end of the month or on your last active day of employment?
What about your 401k, life insurance, disability, tuition aid, or other

Access to computer systems, your building, your office may be
discussed. Company keys, laptops, corporate credit cards may also be

You will likely be asked some questions about your work environment,
your role, your workload and your supervisor. It is up to you what to
share and what not to share. Before sharing any controversial
information, I would strongly advise asking who receives the results of
your exit interview. It is important for you to know this before you
begin sharing. You raise a valid point. Each company has their own
process for sharing this information. Some companies share general
themes with each manager. Some employers share very specific information
with the thought that the employee is gone and the risk for any
backlash is minimal. Ask before you share.

Some of the questions that you may be asked:
•Would you recommend ABC company to a friend as a place to work?

• Do you feel like you had the tools and resources to do a good job here?

• How would you describe the culture of your department? our company?

• Do you feel like your goals were aligned with the company goals?

• Did your role match your expectations?

• Was the workload reasonable?

• Were you treated fairly and reasonably? Were others?

• Why did you begin looking for a new job?

• Is there anything that I should have asked that I didn’t ask?

• Is there anything that you would like to share that we didn’t talk about?

Finally, a good HR representative will leave you with a business card
in case there are any additional concerns which surface after the exit
interview. You may also want to ask how reference calls are handled by
your company.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.