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Conducting Stay Interviews: Three Questions to Ask

Conducting stay interviews can be a beneficial practice for your company and may increase your overall retention rate of employees. However, there is a right way and wrong way to conduct stay interviews, and knowing the best methods to interview employees can improve the overall outcome. This article will discuss what stay interviews are, how to most effectively conduct them and a few of the best questions to ask during your stay interviews.


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What is a stay interview?

A stay interview is an interview conducted with current employees to assess their job satisfaction as well as why employees are "staying" with your company. During a stay interview, you may ask your employees several questions with the goal of learning both what makes your company a good place to work as well as what may need improvement to increase employee retention.

There are several benefits of conducting stay interviews, including that these interviews can:


  • Show your employees that you care about their thoughts and feelings regarding work
  • Help you build trust with your employees
  • Increase the communication between you and your employees
  • Allow for a mutual conversation between you and an employee regarding their current stance on work
  • Give you viable information needed to make positive changes within the workplace
  • Provide you with patterns and data related to your employee turnover rates

Related: How to Reduce Employee Turnover


How to conduct effective stay interviews

The following are steps you can take to conduct the most effective stay interviews:


  1. Schedule stay interviews ahead of time
  2. Let employees know why they are being interviewed and what to expect
  3. Conduct stay interviews in a safe and comfortable environment for employees
  4. Ask the right questions
  5. Express your appreciation for the employee
  6. Follow up after the interviews
  7. Use the information gathered to make positive changes

1. Schedule stay interviews ahead of time

Make sure that you schedule your stay interviews in advance and inform your employees of when they can expect to be interviewed. This gives employees time to prepare for the interview and ensures they are not taken by surprise when called in for a stay interview.


2. Let employees know why they are being interviewed and what to expect

Let your employees know exactly what a stay interview is as well as why you are conducting them. Also, inform your employees of what to anticipate during the interview. Being open about the purpose of these interviews helps to build trust with employees and allows them to come to the interview with helpful answers and information.


3. Conduct stay interviews in a safe and comfortable environment for employees

Performing your stay interviews in a neutral environment can help employees feel more comfortable and open. For example, rather than conducting interviews in your office with the door closed, consider conducting them in an open area or in a more casual setting. The more comfortable employees feel during stay interviews, the more likely they are to be willing to answer questions and communicate in a positive and helpful way.


4. Ask the right questions

Asking the right questions during the stay interview may be the most important component of the process. The questions you ask should be beneficial to both your company as well as the employee and should be asked in a way that encourages employees to be open and honest. Your questions should also portray that you care about the employee’s opinion and that what they say will be taken seriously. 


Three great questions to ask employees during a stay interview include:


  1. What is the most exciting part of your job?
  2. What aspect of your job do you wish you could change?
  3. What factors contribute to you doing your best work?

5. Express your appreciation for the employee

Be sure to express your appreciation for the employee participating in the interview as well as the work they do in general. You could say something like "we really appreciate your hard work in your position as [employee’s position] and you are truly a valued employee at [company name]."


6. Follow up after the interviews

Following up with employees after the interview shows that you appreciated their time and that you were truly listening during the interview. A follow-up email with a mention of something specific discussed should suffice.


7. Use the information gathered to make positive changes

Taking notes and using the information gained during stay interviews to make positive changes in the organization is key to benefiting from these interviews. Decide how you will use the information ahead of time and then take action as soon as the interviews are complete to show employees you are serious about their feedback and improving the company where needed.


Related: Employee Satisfaction Surveys: What They Are and Why They’re Important for Your Business


Best practices for stay interviews

The following are a few best practices to keep in mind when conducting stay interviews:


  • Don’t combine stay interviews with performance reviews to ensure that the focus is solely on the employee’s work experience and needs.
  • Ask questions that address both the positives and negatives of an employee’s position as well as questions about working for the company as a whole.
  • When changes are made, let the employees who contributed to the changes know and show appreciation for their input.
  • Do not dismiss or trivialize an employee’s answers or opinions even if you do not agree with them.

Stay interview FAQs

The following are frequently asked questions related to conducting stay interviews in an organization:


What should not be asked in a stay interview?

You should avoid asking questions that would result in only a "yes" or "no" answer. These types of answers will often not provide you with quality information and do not give employees the opportunity to expand on their opinions and feelings. Additionally, asking questions related to the employee’s salary should be avoided and saved for performance reviews.


How do I know if my company is ready for stay interviews?

If your current company culture is one that promotes and fosters trust and open communication, your organization is likely ready to accept the implementation of stay interviews. However, if your company lacks these qualities, it may be best to spend time working on improving communication and trust within your business before conducting stay interviews. This can help ensure that employees go into the interview with an open mind and willingness to help as opposed to being on guard and wary of the interviews.


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