This time of the year is, generally speaking, quite a common one for people to leave their jobs and pursue new opportunities. There are some factors that can contribute to this that have nothing to do with the season, such as career progression, company culture and salary, but in the wake of Christmas/ New Year, many people reassess their situations and choose to move on and pursue new endeavours.
If you have made the decision to leave your company, you do not want to burn bridges in the process of doing so. Many companies conduct exit interviews and this is a great opportunity to fully explain your decision to move on and leave on brilliant terms.
In most exit interviews, you will be asked to fill out some forms and might not necessarily be asked anything. However, it is a common instinct to want to address any issues that you may have had, particularly if you think that doing so will improve things for remaining/ future employees. If this is something that you want to do, it is wise to proceed with caution (or your words might just come back to haunt you!). A mindset of never closing doors is a good one to have: keep things professional and as pleasant as possible, and if you are feeding back criticisms, make them constructive with a view to strengthen the organisation.
If you feel the need to vent frustrations, do this first ahead of time rather than during the interview. This will allow you to separate personal frustrations from genuine professional problems. Sometimes, you just need to get things off of your chest: it could very well be better to do this with a friend or family member as a cathartic exercise rather than leaving your last impression with a company as being a full-on, rage-induced rant! This can also help you to turn your frustrations into productive, constructive feedback. It will also allow you a chance to assess where you might have been part of the issue and how you can break negative habits in the future.
Following on from this, it is also a good idea to plan and prepare for your exit interview in advance, just as you would with an interview for a new job. As well as addressing any negative emotions in advance, try to speak with someone impartial and unbiased and let them help you to frame your opinions in a way that makes it seem as though you are thinking about what is best for the company. This will give you a much better chance of being remembered well and having an influence.
If you are overly critical in your feedback, there is the danger that it will just come across that you are either being bitter or that you are out to get someone. Try to make your feedback non-emotional. Your (soon to be ex) employer is much more likely to listen to feedback that is going to help them to improve the work environment and increase productivity and engagement. Focusing primarily on the positive will ensure that you exit with grace. Be sure to mention why both you benefitted from the company and how you feel they benefitted from you.
It is reasonable, however, to say if you felt that you were not being fully utilised as an employee and if you have skills that you think may have been squandered. It is also okay to talk about actions of your manager in general or a particularly company policy that influenced your decision to leave. Make sure your comments are professional and fact-based.
Additionally, if you are leaving for a better salary or a company that has greater and/ or better opportunities for progression, this is useful information for a company to have too. Most companies like to have competitive data, even if it doesn’t reflect them in the best light, as they can work from this too.
Overall, exit interviews are never a fun process, but they are quite an essential one that can really contribute towards you leaving a positive and lasting impression. It is incredibly tempting to take this opportunity to bare all, but you never know how and in what way you might come to regret this! There is little point holding on to any anger or frustration: everything worked out for the best, as you are now leaving and going on to pursue a new opportunity.