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The general consensus is that Exit Interviews are, at best, a waste of time for the employee leaving, and barely useful for the company (this has been extensively discussed here many times).

However, let's think for a moment that the employee leaving is not disgruntled at all:

  • Relationship with direct line manager is good. Relationship with relevant execs is also good.
  • Reached a good agreement regarding notice period and end date.
  • Work/tasks during notice period were fair.
  • The employee leaving even helped the company finding a replacement.

Let's also assume that the employee already has a new contract signed, and references have been already provided some time ago.

In a situation like this, would it make sense to provide honest (negative) feedback explaining the reasons for leaving? Things like:

  • Lack of investment in some areas of the business.
  • Low salaries compared to market.
  • Under-staffed teams in core areas.
  • Old/outdated technology.

Assuming a large company (> 1k employees) and UK based (if relevant, although it shouldn't be different in the US).

I am specially interested in answers from the point of view of the departing employee - although clear benefits for the company are also of interest here (other than obscure things such as using the exit interview time for blocking the network accounts of the employee...).

closed as unclear what you're asking by Dukeling, Mister Positive, Chris E, gnat, JasonJ Jul 21 '17 at 16:33

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    I honestly just don't see how this is different from any of the 5 questions you linked. Everything you mentioned regarding your relationship with the company sounds pretty normal (i.e. you don't sound exceptionally close), leaving on terrible terms happens, but I'd think this is more the exception instead of the rule. So most things said in the other threads apply here verbatim. – Dukeling Jul 21 '17 at 14:13
  • I most of other questions/answers, the focus seems to be on a bad relationship with a manager/CEO/someone else preventing to provide good feedback - the point here was to take that factor out, the relationship is good and close (professionally speaking) and they have listened to suggestions in the past. I can see now the point that even that may not be enough to make things different, but still it does not convince me 100% that the answer should always be that they have no value at all. – carrdelling Jul 21 '17 at 15:08
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There is a time and place to bring up the issues you cite, but the exit interview is NOT it.

During the course of your employment, you should have brought these up in discussions with your boss and co-workers. You may have also had an opportunity to propose solutions and offer to implement at least part of the solutions.

If you did those things, that's great, but unfortunately it also means that they were not convinced. Now you're leaving and any perceptive manager will at least realize that those problems are part of the reason.

If you did not raise concerns during your employment... then you didn't really care that much and just moved on to another opportunity. That's ALSO fine. Just recognize that unless scores of people leave, management isn't going to change. Some orgs won't "get the message" even when facing 100% attrition in 5 years.

Whatever the case, a traditional exit interview with HR exists strictly for pro-forma reasons that make sense to HR drones.

  • Agreed. The "relationships" you describe are common - everyone is nice or great. The reasons for leaving you describe are also common. Many places are like that, avoid them; unless you like everyone happy and nothing is good (enough). Comment about HR is also true, they get paid for the extra effort and you don't (worse is you're labeled a complainer/disturber, after they kindly kept you so long). When you jump ship swim hard, avoid the undertow. – Rob Jul 21 '17 at 2:56
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would it make sense to provide honest (negative) feedback explaining the reasons for leaving?

I can imagine a case where it benefits the company. (Although if the company were as bad as you indicated, I don't imagine they would be open to constructive criticism anyway).

What I can't see is how it can benefit the departing employee in any way.

I'd still advise to give only neutral feedback.

Any feedback you could provide on the way out could be gotten through existing employees, if the company ever really wanted to know.

  • Thanks for the advice, specially the last sentence - it is definitely applicable in this situation! – carrdelling Jul 21 '17 at 15:24
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This depends heavily on the motivations and maturity of all people involved, but it can be very positive thing

When I left my last gig, the CEO of the company asked me for a write up of all the detractors to be shared just with two VPs who ran the business unit at the time. I do respect and trust these people a lot, so I complied. I would NOT have shared this with HR, just the leaders that I trusted.

So I left on good terms and I got the occasional ping "how is you new gig, feel like coming back?" . From what I can tell there was a significant change in some of the areas that I mentioned shortly after my departure. I can't tell for sure, whether these changes are related, but it's at least plausible that my feedback made the place better for some of the friends I'd left behind

So it can be good if

  1. You trust the people involved.
  2. There is an honest desire to learn
  3. Everyone is open and transparent about their motivations
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When makes sense to provide honest feedback in an exit interview?

I think every time. Whether the company values it or uses it or not is not something you can base your decision on because you simply do not know for sure. It does give you both the satisfaction that you expressed what was in your mind and also an opportunity to clear things in your head why you are leaving the company and what do you want in the next one.

If you are fair and constructive, it may also serve as a permanent record of your personality in their files and could be useful if you seek employment with them again. (If their attitude is wrong, it could also harm you but you wouldn't want to work for this company again unless their attitude changes anyway)

All you have to be careful about is

  1. Not use rude or offensive language or complain about an individual by name or title.

  2. Answer very specific to the question being asked in the interview. Talk about the salary or compensation only if they specifically ask if you were happy with your salary and not when they something else like 'do you have any suggestions for the team/manager you are leaving?'.

  3. Also include some positive things (if any) you liked about the company and you would look forward to in your next role as well.

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