What is a “stay” interview?

May 26, 2020

Stay interviews can help you learn about the factors that keep your top employees from leaving your organization. By collecting insights from top performers, you can understand the parts of their job that keep them satisfied at work and the reasons they choose to stay.

No, it’s not an exit interview…

A practice that you’re already familiar with, the exit interview, helps you understand the reasoning behind why an employee decides to leave the organization, but only after that decision has already been made. Like exit interviews, stay interviews help you gather candid feedback that your team can turn into actionable steps to retain talent.

You don’t want your best employees to leave. So find out why they stay. 

Give stay interviews to your star employees. These are the high performers that you would hate to see go. For instance, you may discover that the growth trajectory at your company keeps your employees satisfied, but more learning opportunities could enhance that experience. You could uncover a warning sign that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Stay interviews help you get ahead of any surprise resignations.

Approach with curiosity and intention.

One way to approach this is to simply say, “You are a key player on this team, I'd love to understand some of the aspects of your job and the company that keep you happy and in your current role.”

Let the employee know that their honest feedback is valued and will be used to form a plan of actionable steps that can address the concerns or ideas raised in the discussion. People want to work in an environment where they are trusted and listened to, and stay interviews are a great way to show that commitment to your team.

What questions should you ask?

Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. By asking about both the highs and lows of the job, you’ll find about what makes your employees happy or unhappy and how you can change that. Here are some ideas of what to ask:

What part of your role do you look forward to every day?

Find out what makes your employees excited to come to work each day.

What is one aspect of your job you wish you could change? 

You may discover that this is a really simple, small change.

What did you really enjoy about your previous role or employer that isn’t available here?

Generate ideas and feedback by learning about what other companies are doing that yours isn't. 

Can you describe a time in the last year that you felt frustrated or anxious at work? 

Asking about recent frustrations helps you understand why someone might leave.

What factors worsened your frustration or anxiety, and what made it better?

This question helps you prevent a key employee from leaving.

What are the factors that would make your work the best work of your life?

A top performer will stay when they feel like they are doing the best work of their life. It’s important to know what that is for each individual.

By conducting stay interviews and asking these questions, you’re taking a proactive step to retain your top employees. 

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