Bring back the exit interview

A week ago when I was interviewed on Larry Snow’s The Business of Security Podcast, I mentioned to him that when I completed my Vance International EP course every student had an exit interview.  The exit interview was conducted by three of the course instructors who went over the final exercise from the night before and your entire week in the course.  The exit interview gave you an opportunity to see how you were viewed by senior Vance Agents.  They gave it to you with no chaser.  When they were finished you knew where you stood with them and could make a honest assessment if you’d be hired.  At the conclusion of the meeting you had an opportunity to ask any questions.  Once completed, you’d said your good byes and then they 3 senior agents spoke among themselves.  They then had a vote which had to be a majority consensus as to whether or not you’d get the call to work.

I realize that all training schools today are not necessarily in the business of providing protection outside of their training, yet I honestly feel that the exit interview should be implemented or brought back to those schools that got away from the procedure.  The purpose of this exit interview allows the student to get a private, no holds barred, critique of his/her performance during the course.  He/she is able to get an expert instructor’s perspective of how they were viewed by those who live and breathe the craft.  The private meeting will give the student an idea of where they need improvement.  One of the most interesting phenomenons is that you’ll find that many of the students do pretty well overall yet they have issues working along with others under long hours under performing unfamiliar tasks.  The perfectionists in the student cadre seem to ostircize the weaker and less abled students.  In the exit interview both issues have to be addressed.  The “know-it-alls” as well the ones that have problems working in a team dynamic have to be addressed.  This behavior is hard to break if not addressed by senior personnel.

Before we choose teams for the final exercise we try to isolate the students that seem to disappear during the course as the detail or shift leader.  What I mean is that these students avoid interacting, answering thought provoking questions as well as personal interactive questions.  By appointing them to leadership positions is not to exploit them but to make them rise to the occasion as well as force the more provoking students to work under someone they view as possibly less knowledgeable.  This interaction is viewed closely and reviewed in the exit interview.  The reality is that they will face this scenario on a live detail.

Bring back the exit interview, keep your notes and maintain them in the students file.  File?  If your school doesn’t keep files on your students it’s a good idea to start for further reference.  Some companies will ask how the student performed before they hire or use them.  Others may want to verify what they put on their resume.  Lastly, and probably the most important is this; If one of your former students is for some reason in civil court for some questionable procedure they performed, his/her training will be called into question.  You need that file to CYA.  If you are the school or school owner that feels you don’t have a relationship with a student after they leave your course, wait until one gets called into civil court.  The judiciary system will gladly show you that there is a very close relationship.  That’s when that file, your notes and the exit interview will come into play.  It’s also where, I have stated before, that schools need to distinguish between a student “successfully completed” or “attended” their course.  It can make a difference.


  1. Tommy "Neckbone" Smith

    I remember my exit interview! Talk about being nervous, I thought I was gonna piss my pants! I was surprised by Eric’s critique of me, but even more surprised by Lead Instructor Mark Fair’s critique. The exit interview is very important for the student because it gives you a better understanding of where you are and where you need to improve.

    1. Eric Konohia

      Although you were nervous the exit is not designed to be adversarial. It is constructive and helpful.
      Trainers have a duty to give guidance and not just run students through the numbers and run them out the door.

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