As an employer, it’s likely that you have solicited feedback regarding an employee’s tenure with your company during an exit interview, but have you ever considered conducting a stay interview? The concept of a stay interview is simple. Instead of waiting until an employee decides to leave, periodically check in to ask open, honest questions about why an individual chooses to stay and to better understand the degree of employee satisfaction and engagement your organization offers.

Ideally designed for highly-valued, “at-risk-of-leaving employees,” stay interviews function as a means of reducing company turn-over. While some turnover is inevitable as employees venture off to seek new experiences, it’s important to do everything in your power to keep your best team members on board as the war for talent continues to rage.

Stay interviews establish a “feel like you matter” culture, and enable employees to admit the flaws of their current position in a “safe zone.” This open line of communication will create an atmosphere where employees truly feel valued and establish or deepen existing trust between managers and their team.

Below we outlined the structure for an effective stay interview:

How frequently should stay interviews be conducted?
Every six months.

What is the proper format for a stay interview?
Stay interviews may be conducted one-on-one with an employee and their manager or an HR professional if the employee’s manager is reluctant or potentially contributing to the individual’s job dissatisfaction. For remote or shift employees, electronic surveys or questionnaires are an acceptable option. Interviews may also be conducted using a small focus group of employees in the same job family

What topics should be covered?
The interview can be broken down into three parts: discussing factors driving an individual to stay, asking questions aimed toward increasing an individual’s loyalty and commitment to the company, and discussing factors that cause the individual to leave. We have provided sample questions for each:

Why do you want to stay?

  1. Tell me the reasons/what factors cause you to enjoy your current job and work (e.g., responsibilities, rewards, coworkers, management etc.)
  2. When a close friend asks you why you like your job or why you stay–what is your response?
  3. If you could imagine “the best work of your life” what does that look like? What factors contribute to that?
  4. Do you feel like your work matters to the company internally? Externally?
  5. Do you feel like your coworkers feel you make a difference?
  6. Do you feel like you are valued?

Question to increase loyalty or commitment

  1. If you managed yourself, what would you do differently?
  2. What are the elements of your job you like best? What would you transfer to someone else?
  3. What does the next step in your career progression look like?

Why would you leave?

  1. Have you ever considered leaving? Why?
  2. Name a time when you’ve been irritated or frustrated with your role in the last 12 months.
  3. What factors caused you to leave your other jobs?

You may discover some unpleasant truths during this process, but the insights gained are invaluable. Use stay interviews as a catalyst for positive change by taking the initiative to solve dissatisfaction issues posed by your employees. Accountability goes a long way in the war for talent.

Carli Calapa
Carli Calapa connects hiring managers and business owners with exceptional talent by recruiting professionals to fit their talent needs.