What Are Stay Interviews And How To Conduct Them

June 1, 2023
By Nelson Connects

Stay interviews are proactive engagements by organizations with employees to gain insights for improved retention. Unlike exit interviews, they occur while employees are still with the organization and are conducted by managers or HR professionals. These interviews facilitate open conversations about job satisfaction and career goals. However, they are underutilized, with only 28% of companies conducting them in 2020 compared to 72% conducting exit interviews. 

This article will cover everything you need to know about stay interviews, including what they are, the benefits of holding them, and best practices for conducting them.


What Is a Stay Interview?


Stay interviews are structured conversations that aim to uncover and address the factors influencing an employee's job satisfaction, engagement, and desire to stay with the organization. Most stay interviews focus on employee retention. 


These one-on-one discussions help employers proactively identify and address issues that may cause employees to leave. By actively listening to employees' needs, concerns, and aspirations, employers can enhance job satisfaction and engagement, increasing the likelihood of retaining valuable team members.


Stay interviews also foster open communication, enable employers to gauge and boost employee engagement levels, and ultimately contribute to improved employee retention. 


Additionally, these conversations provide a platform for employees to share feedback, concerns, and ideas. They allow employees and managers to identify growth opportunities that align with the employee's goals and ambitions, further enhancing their satisfaction and loyalty to the organization. 


Stay interviews play a crucial role in organizational improvement by uncovering systemic issues and recurring concerns. This allows organizations to implement changes and initiatives that improve overall employee satisfaction and retention rates. 


The Process of Stay Interviews and Best Practices


To conduct effective stay interviews, begin by preparing for the conversation.

  • Define the objectives, such as identifying factors contributing to employee satisfaction, understanding retention risks, or gathering feedback for improvement. Select a representative sample of employees from different departments or levels to participate in the interview process.

  • Create open-ended questions that focus on experiences, job satisfaction, career aspirations, and suggestions for improvement. Inform employees about the process, emphasizing the value of their feedback and ensuring confidentiality.

  • Schedule individual meetings, allowing sufficient time for meaningful conversations. Establish a supportive and confidential environment, practice actively listening, ask follow-up questions, and take notes.

  • Analyze the feedback by looking for common themes, concerns, and improvement opportunities. Address recurring issues and prioritize areas that need attention. Develop action plans involving relevant stakeholders for effective implementation.

  • Share the results with employees, communicate the action plans, and demonstrate that their feedback matters. 

  • Consider conducting stay interviews annually or biannually, and schedule additional interviews with new employees. To help gauge employee satisfaction and engagement during critical periods, plan to hold stay interviews during or after significant events, such as when a project is completed, a career milestone is achieved, or the organization undergoes significant organizational changes.

  • Identify employees who may be at a higher risk of leaving the organization, such as high performers, those with specialized skills, or employees who have expressed concerns in the past. Conduct stay interviews with them more frequently to proactively address their needs and concerns.

  • Create a comfortable and positive environment during stay interviews to foster trust, engagement, transparency, and a sense of belonging. Regularly assess the impact and adjust the process as necessary.

Remember, stay interviews are an ongoing process to improve retention and create a positive work environment.


Stay Interview Questions


Well-thought-out questions can elicit meaningful responses from employees. These questions can uncover valuable insights about an employee's experiences, job satisfaction, career aspirations, and suggestions for improvement. By asking open-ended questions, you can gain a deeper understanding of your employees' needs and identify opportunities to enhance their work environment. 


Suggested questions include:

  1. What initially attracted you to our organization, and what has made you stay until now?
    This question helps uncover the employee's motivations for joining and staying with the company, highlighting the positive aspects contributing to their retention. 

  2. Can you share an example of when you felt valued and appreciated in your role?
    Recognizing and appreciating employees is crucial for their job satisfaction and retention. This question allows the employee to express instances where they felt valued, providing insights into the actions or behaviors that contribute to their positive experience

  3. What aspects of your job or the work environment do you find most rewarding and fulfilling?
    By identifying what aspects of the job or work environment bring satisfaction and fulfillment to employees, the organization can ensure they prioritize and foster those elements. 

  4. Are there any specific skills or areas of expertise you would like to develop further?
    Providing professional growth and development opportunities is essential for keeping employees on the job. 

  5. How would you describe the level of communication and feedback you receive from your manager and colleagues?
    Effective communication and feedback are crucial for employee engagement and retention. This question helps gauge the employee's satisfaction with the current communication channels and processes, identifying areas for improvement and ensuring that they feel heard and supported.

  6. Are your current workload and responsibilities manageable and well-balanced?
    Employee burnout and stress can significantly impact retention. By assessing the employee's perception of their workload and responsibilities, you can identify potential issues and make adjustments to ensure a manageable workload and work-life balance.

  7. Can we improve your work experience or make your job more enjoyable?
    This question allows employees to voice their concerns, suggestions, or ideas for improving their time at work while demonstrating your commitment to supporting their overall work experience.

  8. How do you envision your long-term career growth within our organization?
    This question encourages open dialogue about career paths and goals, leading to personalized development plans and increased commitment to your organization.

Retaining Top Talent Through Stay Interviews


Attracting and retaining top talent is increasingly challenging, and staying ahead of the issue is vital. Rather than waiting until your best employees leave or reach a point where they feel their work situation is irredeemable, stay interviews help you create a company culture that encourages open and honest dialogue and are a great way to stay proactive about employee retention.  


Need help to hire the best talent around? Contact an account manager today to find out how we can help.


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