The Value of Stay Interviews

Published On: June 20, 2022By Categories: Business Management, People at Work, Workforce Development

Talks with current employees have become critical in the tight job market.

By Alexandra Walsh

In light of the headache for companies that is the Great Resignation, the stay interview is quickly becoming an indispensable tool for companies in their attempt to keep their best employees. Stay interviews, like the name says, help companies to understand why employees want to stay and what might tempt them to leave.

At the same time, a stay interview between a supervisor and an individual employee can also be structured to learn specific actions the supervisor can take to strengthen the employee’s engagement and retention with the company.

The best stay interview questions help the company’s most valuable employees understand that the company:

  • Recognizes and appreciates their loyalty
  • Cares about more than just their performance
  • Is open to making changes that would bring the employee more satisfaction.

Properly framed questions asked by the employer during stay interviews should help the company to discover:

  • Warning signs indicating a key worker needs more support or direction
  • Ways to keep employees in whom the company has invested the most time and resources
  • Low-cost changes that could reaffirm employees’ commitment and engagement.

Good stay interviews will keep the questions focused on four categories: the employee, his or her job, the company culture, tools and technology provided by the business.

Here are some sample questions a supervisor can ask in a stay interview in each of the four categories. In addition are suggestions on how you the supervisor or manager may be able to apply the information you gain to encourage your current (and future) employees to stay.

The Employee

1. What do you look forward to most when you come to work every day?
Answers here can vary widely. For some their favorite part may be working alongside their colleagues, while for others it will be all about the projects they are working on. Try to accommodate and support whatever it is your best employees like best about their job.

Over time, as you gather more information, you might be able to detect some trends. If, for instance, most employees really like the company culture, this can be something used in the company’s recruitment and branding efforts.

2. What do you dread about work every day?
Pay close attention to what is said. Once you begin to spot trends here, it’s time to take action.

3. When was the last time you thought about leaving the company?
A top performer who thought about leaving the company yesterday may need more immediate attention than someone who last thought about going elsewhere say a year ago.

4. What situation made you think of leaving?
This question will provide you with much more specific information from an employee.

Knowing what triggers someone to think of leaving can help you think about and create a more satisfying working experience for them.

5. Would you recommend the company to friends seeking a job? Why or why not?
This is an important question for understanding how the company’s brand is viewed by others. Jobseekers see those already employed in the company as a reliable source because they already experience firsthand how it is to work for the company.

If you want to retain your best people, it’s essential you give them opportunities for professional and career growth.

6. What would tempt you to leave the company?
A situation that makes someone think about leaving will often be something that comes from within the company. It may be its culture, the job, perhaps a strong disagreement with the direction the business is taking.

A temptation to leave will often come from outside the company too: a job that’s impossible to refuse, a partner who gets a job in another city, the opportunity to start their own business.

The Job

7. What is the best part of your job?
Employees will naturally like different aspects of their job, but you might find certain answers keep repeating over time.

You can build on these answers to give employees more of what they love to improve their satisfaction and engagement. While it won’t always be possible to do this, it is a good thing to know for the occasions when you can.

8. What part of your job would you cut out straightaway if you could?
As you listen and gather more information, you’ll be able to detect trends that are emerging. This will help you better realize and try to eliminate the not-so-great parts of the job for your current employees.

9. Which of your talents are you not using in your current job?
This question will give you hints and insights into where an employee might want to go next in their career to take advantage of their talents.

10. What would make your job even more satisfying?
There are always things that people can do better. This question can help you find out where to start, especially once you see employees giving more of the same answers.

11. Do you feel you’re getting clear goals and objectives?
These responses will tell you something about the way the employee is managed. If workers consistently answer this in a positive way, give credit to their managers and supervisors. If not, it needs to be addressed.

Having clear goals and objectives helps employees see and recognize the part they play in achieving the company’s goals.

12. As your manager, what can I do more of or less of?
Managers have a significant impact on the way people experience work. The information in response to this question, positive or negative, can be extremely valuable in maintaining, or if needed improving, the relationship between manager and employee.

13. What do you think of the learning and development opportunities that are available to you?
If you want to retain your best people, it’s essential you give them opportunities for professional and career growth. To feel confident you can offer them what they need or want, it’s important you ask this question.

Company Culture

14. Do you feel valued and recognized in the company?
If the company is good at making its people feel valued and giving them the recognition they deserve, this will have a positive impact on workers’ engagement and productivity.

On the other hand, a lack of appreciation can push people to move elsewhere.

15. How would you like to be recognized for the work you do?
Even if you have an employee recognition program in place, there might be ways to make it even better or more personal.

16. What are we currently not doing as a company that you feel we should be?
Recurring answers to this question will be useful in making the company an even better place to work—for both current and future employees.

Tools and Technology

17. Do you have enough tools and resources to do your job properly? If not, what is missing?
Whether or not employees feel they are fully equipped to do their job directly impacts their experience—and how well they do their job. The answers you get to this question are constructive in the company providing the best up-to-date tools and technology employees use.

18. How satisfied are you with the tools you use to communicate with your colleagues when working remotely?
This is obviously a question not everyone needs to be asked. If your company is using remote workers, the tools your employees have to stay in touch with each other (not to mention with your customers) need to work smoothly.

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In a time where a significant part of the workforce is thinking about leaving their company, taking a thorough look at your employees’ engagement and satisfaction answers should be a priority.

A stay interview can be a useful tool in gauging why your employees are staying and where those in supervisory positions can improve a company’s ability to retain its employees.


Alexandra Walsh is the vice president of Association Vision, a Washington, D.C.–area communications company. She has extensive experience in management positions with a range of organizations.

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