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How honest should you be in an exit interview?

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The goal should be maintaining a positive relationship with the firm.

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In the first exit interview I did, I laid it all out on the table. While cathartic I later realized it was a complete waste of time. If you want to change one of these organizations, you probably need to stay within it and get on committees, work your way up to management etc. Or become an important client of the firm and dictate what changes you can from that position. Otherwise you’re leaving and moving on. Even though they might ask for you to be honest, that doesn’t mean it is in your interests to be honest. Keep looking out for #1 and keep it diplomatic, brief, to the point and move on.

It’s not an intervention. It’s an exit interview.

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Lie. Say you’re leaving for reasons other than the firm—you want a new practice area or you are moving neighborhoods or you were offered a growth opportunity.

The interviewer may have loyalty to the firm and take your criticisms personally, leaving them to think poorly of you if they disagree with your experience. You also may want to return to the firm some day, or the interviewer may end up at a firm with you later down the road.

Sure, candor might help the firm improve—but what do you care, you’re leaving.

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Agree with the above, don’t burn bridges. However, I think being constructive and candid is also appreciated, assuming you are comfortable with the person conducting the exit interview and they actually ask you for your thoughts in the first place. It’s a hard line to walk, but I think it helps to practice what you want to say with a friend. It’s not going to be received well if they think you’re using it as opportunity to air every last grievance and I assume you want them to listen and not just be dismissive of what you have to say, so goal should be to mention a few major issues and deliver the message in a way that’s concise, specific and anecdotal. Key to accomplishing that is to practice taking the emotion out of your delivery. Make it personal and relatable but not emotional. If you find that you can’t do that when you’re practicing, keep it to yourself in the exit interview.

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Brutally honest.

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Eh, go Al Pacino. “I’d take a flamethrower to this place!!!”

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I kept sweet with my partners but told HR that their pay was extremely uncompetitive and there’s no way I could justify staying when I could earn 2x for the same job 🤷🏻‍♀️

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