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Navigating 'the cockroaches of the HR world'

Parting ways? It won’t be easy if human resources has its way.

Parting ways? It won’t be easy if human resources has its way.


These days, getting and quitting a job involves a roughly identical amount of corporate passage rites — from legalistic forms to fill out to statements to sign.


But perhaps no ritual is as arcane as the final threshold: the exit interview.


You, an HR rep and a voice recorder, reminiscing on the employee handbook-prescribed lives you shared.


A sacred fact-finding mission for some managers, but a perfunctory formality for others, exit interviews are — for AskTheHeadHunter.com author Nick Corcodilos — “the cockroaches of the HR world.”


“They just survive,” he says. “I really think companies do them out of sheer habit.


“If a company wants to find out what employees think, why don’t you ask them while they’re still working there?” he asks. “Why wait until they’re leaving?”


Navigating an exit interview, like any goodbye, is a theatrical art — and while many a worker may relish the chance to discharge a few parting shots, career coach Hallie Crawford recommends bidding adieu with diplomatic understatement.


“Try to not single out any one person unless you are pressed to do so,” she advises.


“Keep things professional, not personal.” She continues, “Consider what criticism is really worth bringing up.”


Corcodilos’ answer might be: None.


“Absolutely keep your mouth shut,” he warns. “Anything you say can and will be used against you. It could hurt your references.”

 
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