Recently I left a job where I had worked for a number of years. Throughout my time there, I had more or less the same manager.
I left because I wasn't being challenged enough and I felt a little overworked more often than I'd have liked. A suitable job appeared elsewhere and I went through the interview process and was offered the job.
Before I left, I had an exit interview with HR. This was an acutely private conversation, though there would have been no point in having it if the information was not to leave the room in any form.
At this interview I discussed the reasons for my choosing to leave and also some concerns I had. These concerns weren't solely about any one thing or person and, I feel, I put my concerns in the more professional and objective way I could, for example:
- I consistently stressed that my opinions were just that, and that what I perceived was not necessarily accurate nor a complete picture
- I avoided citing hearsay but where it was of an issue significant enough to merit it and where I had experience of the same issue firsthand, I stressed that it was hearsay
- I did my best at the start and finish to make clear that I did not have an axe to grind; rather, I love the people I worked with and felt it important to air my concerns in the appropriate way, in hope that it would be a better workplace for them
HR suggested that some of the concerns I made had been made before and that they would have to start taking them more seriously. They also asked if they could use the information I had given them immediately or after I had left, and I told them they could use it immediately.
Within a week of this interview, perhaps the same day, I left.
Fast forward a few months. The new job I am working is nothing like I expected. It's very slow and boring and I am at the stage where I am happy to apply for another; I am more than aware that changing jobs so rapidly looks bad but this warrants another move.
I applied for a different job at the same place I left, a job which I would have applied for before if it was available at the time. I heard that initially, said manager completely dismissed the idea of me returning. Apparently, my feedback, and presumably the feedback which has come before it, has acted as a catalyst for some serious change, change which my ex-manager does not necessarily like. I have good reason to believe that the ex-manager feels like I have sought to do them and their job harm, though I don't know exactly what they know.
The staff to whom I had applied were different however and managed to go over the ex-manager's head, securing me an interview.
I now have an interview within the next few weeks, which begins with a session alone with my ex-manager.
My overarching question is this:
- How should I handle the situation when my ex-manager inevitably brings this up?
Does anyone else have any similar experiences?
The conversation I had with HR was two-way; should I limit myself only to what I said to HR?
Should I be as open and honest as possible about everything I said right from the outset or should I simply respond to what they ask me?
Does anyone feel they are entitled to know exactly what I said in this exit interview, as it relates to them or to anything else?
Does anyone feel it is appropriate or inappropriate for the ex-manager to expect me to recite what I said, as it relates to them or to anything else?
Is there anything you think I should do beforehand?
A few words on my own thoughts:
- I don't regret what I said to HR, though I may if I am denied a chance to return based solely on this
- I don't feel bad about being honest with HR, but I will feel very uncomfortable reciting my concerns about my ex-manager to their face
- I don't feel it's fair to expect me to recite what I said, or to give much by way of details