Stay Interviews

What Is a Stay Interview?

In a stay interview, an employer sits down with an employee to discover what the employee values about their job and what could be improved. A stay interview is similar to an exit interview, but is done with active employees rather than ones leaving.

The Importance of Stay Interviews

Ultimately, stay interviews can help raise employee retention rates.

Stay interviews can uncover many important things for reaching that end goal. For example, they can allow employers to:

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Stay Interview Benefits

Most employers find stay interviews to be very effective at giving a good feel for where their employees stand on specific issues and overall workplace satisfaction. When possible, feedback, motivation, and assignments can be customized according to what works best for the employee. This makes for a happier employee who does better work.

Stay interviews are often viewed as more effective and appreciated than general employee satisfaction surveys. The interview setup allows for a two-way conversation and for follow-up or clarifying questions.

Stay Interview Challenges

Stay interviews don’t come without challenges. Here are some difficulties that may occur:

Despite these possible challenges, the insights from these interviews are incredibly valuable. The feedback you receive can help you effectively identify and close issues before they create bigger problems.

When to Conduct Stay Interviews

Stay interviews are often conducted when new employees begin to settle into their roles, typically within the first few months. Since new hires are most vulnerable to turnover, stay interviews can help employers get ahead of any possible issues before they quickly drive the employee away. You should also consider interviewing them a few more times throughout their first year of employment.

After the first year of employment, it’s a good idea to conduct stay interviews annually to ensure any new issues, motivations, and trends are recorded and dealt with before they go too long without being addressed. These interviews can also provide insights any time employees seem disengaged for a prolonged period of time.

Getting Started with Stay Interviews

Ideally, stay interviews should be conducted with everyone in the company to better understand what can be improved and what’s going well. If this isn’t possible, carefully select people across various departments and seniority levels.

Once you’ve identified interviewees, send a calendar invite with high-level details about what you plan to discuss. This will help employees properly prepare for the interview to provide more detailed feedback.

Conducting Successful Stay Interviews

The key to successful stay interviews is to keep them simple. Open by thanking the employee for their time, explaining the purpose of the interview, and encouraging them to give honest feedback. Then, ask questions to learn why they’re staying, why they might leave, and what can be done to increase their job satisfaction.

Remember to listen more than you talk. Ask questions only after you’ve had a chance to digest their answers. And don’t shy away from asking additional questions. It shows you’re listening and care about their answers.

14 Stay Interview Question Examples

Here are a few specific questions to get you started:

  1. Do you feel your knowledge, skills, and experience are being fully utilized?
  2. What would make your job more satisfying?
  3. How can you be better supported?
  4. How do you like to be recognized for a job well done?
  5. What are specific parts of your job responsibilities that you enjoy, and what would you like to change?
  6. How is your relationship with your direct supervisor?
  7. How do you feel about the company culture? What do you like and dislike about it?
  8. What are your short- and long-term professional goals? How can we support you in attaining them?
  9. How would you describe your work-life balance?
  10. What would you like to be doing within your role that you aren’t currently doing?
  11. Do you feel like you’re being recognized at work? Why or why not?
  12. What factors contribute to you performing your best work?
  13. Are there any situations recently that have made you consider resigning?
  14. Are there any additional benefits you’d like to see?

7 Bonus Tips for Effective Stay Interviews

For effective stay interviews to increase engagement and building trusting relationships, use these seven tips:

  1. Conduct all needed stay interviews within a few weeks of each other so you can gather the most current and accurate information.
  2. Make employees aware of their interviews ahead of time, including the purpose and how they can prepare.
  3. Keep the interview around 25 to 45 minutes long.
  4. If the employee seems uneasy answering questions, work to build trust and show transparency. In the meantime, make it possible for interviews to be conducted anonymously.
  5. Don’t include a performance review during the stay interview or mention the employee’s performance. Doing so may discourage the employee from being honest in their feedback.
  6. Express your gratitude for the employee and how you value their work.
  7. Have procedures in place so effective follow-up actions can be addressed immediately.

With these tips in mind, you can conduct more effective stay interviews. And when you take action based on the information you gather, you can help empower your employees. Remember, any time an employer and employee talk to each other openly, engagement and retention tends to go up.

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