Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

The ‘Stay Interview’ – An Improvement On the Exit Interview

If you’re like most managers, you probably hold regular performance reviews that are designed to let employees know how they’re doing, and give them a chance to improve on their weaknesses.

But what about performance reviews for you, the employer? Wouldn’t it make sense to give employees an opportunity to tell you, as an organization, how you’re doing?

A tool for retention and engagement

Some employers do think that makes sense. They’ve implemented what’s known as “stay interviews” to allow employees to give constructive feedback to the organization. The aims: build employee engagement and increase the chances of retaining valued employees.

The stay interview is a cousin of the exit interview. But where exit interviews are designed so that departing employees can suggest what the organization could do better, stay interviews aim to glean those same suggestions – but before valued employees decide to leave.

Doing them right

Employee retention experts have some suggestions for conducting stay interviews:

Decide whom you want to interview. You may choose to talk only to your most valued employees. After all, they’re the ones you most want to stay! But if you do go that way, consider the possible downside: Employees who aren’t interviewed may take this as an indication of second-class status, and their morale may suffer.

Make clear to interviewees what you’re doing.  Employees who are unaware of what a stay interview is may be startled that they’re being asked to participate in one. They may even ask themselves whether you’re trying to suggest they shouldn’t stay!  The interviewer needs to explain what the interview is about, and what it aims to accomplish.

Do it separately from the performance review. Some practitioners of stay interviews do them every six months, at the opposite end of the year from the employee’s performance review.

Act on what you hear. Any time you ask for employee feedback, you need to be prepared either to act on it or explain why you can’t. The same holds for stay interviews.

Sample questions

If you do decide to give stay interviews a try, here are some of the kinds of questions you may want to ask:

  • When you have a great day at work, what made it that way?
  • If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
  • What’s your dream job?
  • When you wake up on weekdays, do you want to jump up and get to work, or hit the snooze button on your alarm? Why?
  • If you received a big inheritance and didn’t have to work, what would you miss?
  • What talents, interests or skills do you have that we haven’t made the most of?
  • What’s bothering you most about your job?
  • What kind of performance feedback would you like that you aren’t receiving?
  • What have you felt good about accomplishing here (since the last stay interview or throughout time with organization)?

You can read more about “stay interviews” here: “6 Stay Interview Questions That Top Employers Ask”.

About the Author: Dave Clemens is a senior writer for Rapid Learning Institute and writes The HR Café Blog. His work has appeared in The Associated Press, World Press Review, and in several human resources, employment law, and business newsletters. You can connect with Dave via Twitter @TheHRCafe.


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1 comment

  • I have never heard of this tactic coined as a “stay interview.” My experience with this type of organizational 360 feedback has been quite positive. Employing this strategy can help you head off unanticipated dissatisfiers, identify potential flight risks, and give your team a risk-free avenue to provide critical feedback. Every organization should be doing this at some level.