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I worked for a large company in a non-HR role, and have recently decided to move on to another job. In the middle of my transition, my direct supervisor was made a key figure in HR in addition to their original role, and opted to perform my exit interview.

This influenced what I said in the interview, away from what I originally wanted to say. I have heard that other colleagues who have previously left this company left negative comments about this person.

Is it a normal situation to be interviewed by your direct supervisor? Does this constitute an ethical problem if they were part of the reason for your leaving?

This company is not a start-up, and is in the United States.

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    Did you tell HR before your interview that this person had an impact on your decision? Did you ask HR to interview with somebody else? In the grand scheme of things I'm not sure it'll change anything either way, obviously this person did not change after the first few people, doesn't seem like they would change after yours. – Ron Beyer Mar 16 '16 at 20:52
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    Since it is never a good idea to make personal accusations in an Exit interview, I don't really see the problem here. – HLGEM Mar 16 '16 at 20:55
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    They could have the janitor perform the exit interview. It seems odd that a manager that got negative comments in exit interviews got moved to HR. You are gone. What do you care. – paparazzo Mar 16 '16 at 21:01
  • I don't see any problem with that at all, that's my two cents though, that said, I think you should have talked to HR, but really who gives a D*mn, you're gone anyway – Kyle Mar 16 '16 at 21:04
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    Like HLGEM said, you should never burn bridges in exit interviews. That's their main purpose : keeping the bridges.open. If you tell bad things about people, you're just not playing the game. And it can be only detrimental to you. – gazzz0x2z Mar 17 '16 at 15:32
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The company is entitled to have anybody they want do an exit interview. It is HR in most cases, but I have done them with my then direct supervisor. Perhaps they didn't really want you to talk about the person they obviously like since he just got promoted after several complaints.

Exit interviews do not exist for you to tell people the dirt on what is happening in the company. They exist to mainly make sure that all the blocks in the exit process are checked off and that everything that you should turn into the company has been turned in. Often they use that time period for you to be away from your computer and then your network rights are removed. They might occasionally be interested if a particular policy change has caused people to leave such as dropping a particular benefit. Or if their salaries are no longer competitive (I told them when I left for a 60% salary increase for instance and my replacement then got a 25% increase over what I had been paid.)

There is no benefit to the company or to the person leaving in discussing anything about some other individual's performance. They will take anything you say about a person as sour grapes. No change is ever made from those types of discussions, so don't bother. You achieve nothing except looking like a naive or angry person.

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    This is truth right here. – MealyPotatoes Mar 16 '16 at 21:26
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    @MealyPotatoes: Scully and Mulder told it was out here somewhere. Glad we found it. 😊 – Wesley Long Mar 17 '16 at 6:14
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Most people's idea of resignation and exit interview is something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tra3Zi5ZWa0

(with apologies to Patrick McGoohan).

The reality is more:

Them: "So, got something lined up?"

You: "Yes thanks" (not telling you!)

Them: "Anything you want to say?"

You: "Not really" (well I do, especially about my boss as I hate him, but my reference is still pending)

So in many cases little of use is said, it's just a formality, so why not have your manager do it (and most places I've been have done this). If you had a real grievance you'd have raised it before, wouldn't you???

So I doubt they would have thought about it before it happened, but it does happen a lot.

  • Yep, that's about the gist of it – Kilisi Mar 16 '16 at 23:28
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An exit interview is NOT the place to air the reasons of your dissatisfaction.

If have been a "good" employee, then any problems/issues you had should have been brought up to the relevant people prior to seeking employment elsewhere. If they were unable or unwilling to change them then your exit at this point should not be a surprise.

In other words, if you were communicating properly then there should be nothing left other than to hand over any keys or other materials that belong to the company which are still in your possession and to pick up your final check (depending on local laws).


If you haven't been communicating with the appropriate people about why you were unhappy then doing so at the exit interview can only hurt you. Whether it's by burning a bridge or giving them something to tell a future employer if you use them as a referral. For example they could easily say: Bob doesn't communicate very well.

To be quite frank, it just looks bad. I've had a few people move on to other jobs only to have them tell me on their way out why they were leaving - and for it to have been a solvable problem. At that point I then mark them as ineligible for rehire because if they can't be bothered to give me an opportunity to fix the problem then I won't be bothered to bring them back onto the team.

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