Exit Interview. Honest or not?


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Boomer MS, RN

Boomer MS, RN

Specializes in Med Surg/ICU/Psych/Emergency/CEN/retired. Has 17 years experience. 511 Posts

NEVER if you have negative remarks to make. It will only come back to haunt you somehow.

Just say you had a fabulous learning experience, you are a better nurse because of your time

at the facility, and positive stuff like that.

I hate to say you should roll over, but you work because you need to pay bills and support your family

and there is just no benefit to you of saying negative stuff in an exit interview - or any other time, really.

Put the past behind you and move on. Best wishes.

I respectfully disagree, The OP needs, however, to do what is better or BEST for him/her. I cannot play and never will play that game of saying what someone wants to hear. There are consequences and benefits for going both ways, and I hope the OP can accept that. All of us here are projecting our feelings. I will never agree that negative remarks "will only come back to haunt you." I advise the OP to give it some thought and go from there. In my neck of the woods, someone can be admired for speaking his truth instead of "going with the flow." I find it disingenuous to do otherwise. You can articulate what you want to express in a professional and respectful manner. My very best wishes to the OP whatever course he/she decides to take.

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 41 years experience. 4,295 Posts

I would be honest in the interview, but I'd be diplomatic about the bad charge nurse. I'd mention the poor morale on the unit, and how it could be improved if everyone maintained professional standards of conduct. Then I'd specify the behaviours that are problematic for everyone else. After they worm out of me who the culprit is, I'd remind them of all the things that are positive.

See? Professional and diplomatic but you helped them identify the problem. If that manages to burn a bridge, then some things can't be helped.


Sydryth, ASN, RN

Specializes in Unit Nurse. Has 10 years experience. 42 Posts

I was totally honest in my exit interview. I did it in a respectful manner though. While I voiced my cons , I tried to give as many pro's in return. Even if they are genuinely concerned why you are leaving, if you go into it with all con's, they see you as a truly negative person. Then instead of being concerned why you are leaving, they are just glad you are leaving.

During my last exit interview at a large facility, in which I was highly respected, I had to meet with the Chief Nursing Officer for my exit interview. I honestly told her why I was leaving. However, like I said earlier while I told her all the con's, I tried to counter with as many pro's. She was eagerly taking down notes and was even probing me for further details. At the end of the interview she told me she was truly sad I was leaving, but thanked me for my honestly and even stated that if I ever decided to come back that they would be eager to have me back.

So I say be honest but do it with character and not go into it with a big chip on your shoulder!


NursesRmofun, ASN, RN

Specializes in Registered Nurse. 1,239 Posts

I don't know how much an exit interview counts as far as any one set if ideas going "across the board" for facilities....but my experience with honesty during an exit interview in a smaller, community hospital is- it was too small a hospital and community....and the honesty was like a lead balloon. The truth came off, I'm sure- in hindsight, as being selfish. I think they put me down as non-rehire, even though I was there for years with an excellent record! I was going through something in my own life, maybe was depressed- and it affected me. I should have kept my mouth shut. Moral of the story...

Central BSN, RN

Central BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, Transplant.. 74 Posts

I would be honest to the extent that you feel comfortable. You never know what may come of it, good or bad.

Orca, ADN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Hospice, corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC. Has 27 years experience. 2,066 Posts

The last exit interview that I did, I was bluntly honest. My unit was taken over by a nurse manager who was intent on running me off because she saw me as a threat to her authority. She set me up to fail on at least three occasions, and then she held me accountable for the outcome. My belief was that if I let the opportunity pass, I was doing a disservice to the people who remained behind.

FolksBtrippin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry, Community, Nurse Manager, hospice. Has 6 years experience. 2,071 Posts

I feel like whatever decision you make here is fine, but I'll tell you what I would do.

I would tell the truth. However, I would check my emotions on the charge nurse and be sure that I didn't go in there guns a blazing against her.

If they didn't ask me about her, or didn't ask me if I found any relationship difficult, etc I wouldn't bring it up.

If I did have the opportunity to speak about it, I would be factual, focusing on events and not express emotion, or make value judgments.

If I couldn't identify actual events where I felt the charge nurse had acted badly in her post, then it isn't something to talk about because I probably just don't like her personality.

tyvin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice / Psych / RNAC. 1,620 Posts

It's called don't burn any bridges. A few years from now you might empathize with the horrible charge. It's hard being charge because you have to set the standards/rules/etc,. Most often we come off as a very bad experience to people. I would just thank them for the experience, and leave it at that. Don't play hero; it won't help you or anyone else...makes you look bitter when you haven't complained when you were working so, why now? Doesn't make you look reliable either. When future employers call, you want the people to remember you as pleasant, not vindictive and trying to start trouble....can you say team player.



75 Posts

You could do the whole "list 3 positives and a negative" thing. However, singling bad coworkers out in an exit interview is risky. It's really not the time for throwing someone under the bus, even if they deserve to be there. It is also kind of tacky and may damage your credibility. You could say general things about lack of direction with supervisors as times, but if I were you, I wouldn't go any further than that.

Ginger's Mom

Ginger's Mom, MSN, RN

Has 41 years experience. 1 Article; 3,181 Posts

As others have said, list all of the positive experience, thank them for the opportunity, you will leave them with a good tone, if they ask why you are leaving, do the usual growth opportunity, etc, and then mention the bad experience. Therefore you will leave with a good impression.

Boomer MS, RN

Boomer MS, RN

Specializes in Med Surg/ICU/Psych/Emergency/CEN/retired. Has 17 years experience. 511 Posts

As others have said' date=' list all of the positive experience, thank them for the opportunity, you will leave them with a good tone, if they ask why you are leaving, do the usual growth opportunity, etc, and then mention the bad experience. Therefore you will leave with a good impression.[/quote']

As adults, we do get to say what we want as long as it is respectful. Saying the "usual" is disenguous for me. I won't and will never do that. I am not advocating having a rant during an exit interview. If I have been a good employee with excellent evaluations, I doubt very much an honest and critical exit interview will damage my leaving with a good impression. Others' mileage may vary. The original OP had concerns, and I hope she found a way to express them to keep her self respect. That advice is also part of one's growth.



6 Posts

I have always told companies exactly why I left. Nothing will ever get better if we keep our mouths shut.