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Stay Interviews: What are They, Why They’re Important, and 40 Example Questions

November 11, 2022

We’ve all heard of exit interviews – it’s the time HR gets to know why people have chosen to go elsewhere. These interviews are great for learning how to potentially prevent future turnover. But what they can’t do is give you an opportunity to fix issues before your employee makes it to the exit interview.

With voluntary turnover still above pre-pandemic levels, companies everywhere have retention on the mind. And while there are many strategies for improving retention, one way to help prevent the need for exit interviews is with stay interviews.


What Are Stay Interviews

Stay interviews are meetings that occur between manager and employee with the intention of gaining an understanding of why the employee continues to stay with the company. Typically, these meetings take place with high-performing employees, whose skill set is valuable to the company.

Stay interviews aren’t used as a way to persuade employees who are thinking about leaving, but rather as a tool to prevent them from getting to that point. Stay interviews are about gathering valuable feedback from your employees and using that information to continuously improve employee satisfaction and engagement.


Why Conduct Stay Interviews

Typically, the main purpose for stay interviews is to reduce employee turnover and improve retention, but there are other benefits as well.


Reduce Voluntary Turnover

Stay interviews can be a great way to address issues before they turn into reasons to leave. For example, you may have someone on your team who prefers a quiet work environment, but they’re seated next to the sales team. They may spend their day quietly frustrated by the constant calls and meetings but may feel like it’s too trivial to bring up to their boss.

A stay interview could be the perfect opportunity to address this frustration neutrally and give this employee a new seat or more days working from home. It may sound like a small issue to you, but you never know what could be making your employees’ work experience unpleasant. Giving your team one less reason to be unhappy is always a good thing when it comes to improving retention.


Gain Valuable Insights

Even the best managers may not know exactly why their employees like their jobs. Maybe a previous employee in their role liked the challenging projects associated with the job. This could lead you to believe that’s a major draw to the role. But you may come to find your new employee mostly appreciates the ability to make decisions autonomously.

Simply put, you won’t know until you ask and stay interviews are a great way to ask. Without knowing this information, it could be all too easy to shift your employee’s responsibilities away from what they actually enjoy doing.


Build Trust

Stay interviews can also help build trust between you and your employees. Trust is an inevitable outcome when stay interviews are conducted well. First, your employee recognizes that you value them to even have the stay interview in the first place. Then, if they discuss any issues or suggestions and see them implemented, they learn that you’re truly invested in their growth, wellbeing, and success with the company.

The key is to not only talk at these interviews, though. You will need to make reasonable changes so your employee can build that trust. And if you can’t make the changes they suggest, you’ll need to follow up and explain why you aren’t able to do so. Without this action and explanation, you’ll risk losing trust with your team.


Tips for Conducting Stay Interviews

It’s important to go into a stay interview prepared so you’re sure to get the most value out of it. Here are some tips for ensuring your stay interview is as productive as possible.

  • Bring an open mind. Try going into the meeting with a “Why not?” mindset versus a “That could never be done here” mindset. This will not only help your employee feel safe expressing their ideas, but it can also help lead to great ideas that benefit the whole team.
  • Emphasize the team efforts with word choice. Research has shown that leaders who tend to give credit rather than take it are perceived as more effective leaders. So, when discussing work, emphasize the team accomplishments by using “we” over “I” or “they.”
  • Be prepared to make reasonable changes. Recognize that you may need to change some things and be ready to do so. If you’re not ready to make changes yet, consider postponing the interview or discussing the timeline for changes to begin. Transparency is key.
  • Be ready to follow up. Expect to have additional conversations about progress, bottlenecks, and any adjustments that need to be made to a request.


RELATED: How to Reduce Employee Turnover: 3 Steps for Keeping Your Top Talent

Best Questions for Stay Interviews

Questions About Employee Satisfaction for Stay Interviews

  1. What do you look forward to most coming to work each day?
  2. Is there anything you dread about your job? If so, what?
  3. When was the last time you thought about leaving the company?
  4. What prompted you to think about leaving?
  5. What would tempt you to leave?
  6. Would you recommend working here to friends or family?
  7. Do you find your work meaningful?
  8. What keeps you working here?


Questions About the Job for Stay Interviews

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?
  2. Is there anything you wish was a part of your job?
  3. Is there anything you wish wasn’t a part of your job?
  4. Is there an area, aspect, or skill of your job that you’d like to develop further?
  5. Which of your skills/talents are not used in your role?
  6. Do you feel you have room to grow and develop in this role?
  7. If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
  8. What would make your job more satisfying?


Questions About Company Culture for Stay Interviews

  1. How would you describe our company culture in 3 words?
  2. Do you feel you’re adequately recognized for your efforts?
  3. Are you being recognized in a way that resonates with you? If not, how would you like to be recognized?
  4. Is there anything you see other departments doing that we should try?
  5. Is there anything we should be doing more of as a company?
  6. Is there anything we should be doing less of/anything that’s a distraction?
  7. Is there anything you’d change about our company culture?
  8. Have you noticed any issues or inequities you’d like to mention?


Questions About Management/Leadership for Stay Interviews

  1. Do you feel like you understand what is expected of you?
  2. Are you given clear and attainable goals?
  3. What could your manager do better?
  4. What should your manager be doing more of?
  5. Are you given enough work? Are you given too much work?
  6. Do you feel empowered/trusted in your role?
  7. Do you feel seen as a person rather than just an employee?
  8. Is your manager accessible and approachable?


General Stay Interview Questions

  1. Is there anything we should change, add, or remove from our office space?
  2. Do you feel you have the right tools and technology to perform your job well?
  3. Which tools or methods should we stop using?
  4. How do you feel about our hybrid/work from home/hybrid model?
  5. Do you feel connected to your colleagues?
  6. What could we be doing better?
  7. How are our benefits/perks?
  8. Do you feel your employee wellness is supported at work? Emotionally, physically, and mentally?


Next Steps

Stay interviews are crucial to knowing what your employees think about the environment they work in each day. They can detect early signs of trouble and prevent small issues and annoyances from snowballing into reasons to leave.

While you're taking steps to improve your employees' experience, consider developing a culture of recognition.

The Terryberry 360 Recognition Platform offers a comprehensive solution that can host your recognition efforts, including milestone and service awards, peer-to-peer social recognition, feedback and communication, and performance and incentive rewards.