Stay Interviews: 5 Simple Steps with Questions
Exit interviews investigate why people leave. Stay interviews explore what motivates people to stay.
- Deliver information that can be used today.
- Give practical insights for engaging and retaining top performers.
- Provide managers with a reliable process for developing individual stay plans.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Stay interviews: a 5-step strategy:
#1. Begin with top performers.
It might be good to interview everyone, but you don’t have to. Learn from highly engaged top performers who’ve been with you the longest.
#2. Put them on the agenda.
Develop a stay interview process that includes frequency. Get it on the calendar.
#3. Ask the same questions.
#4. Notice patterns.
Let people know you take stay interviews seriously. Schedule follow-ups before you leave the room.
- Report patterns.
- Commit to appropriate change.
- Ask for new insights.
- Discuss development plans.
- Compared to other places you’ve worked, what’s different about working here?
- What interested you in working here?
- How are we living up to what you expected?
- What words best describe what it feels like to work here?
- How would you like working here to feel?
- What do you notice about the people who are thriving here?
- What are we doing that makes this place a place you could see yourself staying for a long time?
- If you recommended our company as a good place to work to a friend, what would you say?
- What do you enjoy most about your job? Least?
- How much of your day are you using your strengths?
- What makes you feel valued here?
- How are we helping you fulfill your career aspirations?
- What would you like to do more of? Less of?
- If you were the boss, what would you do more of? Less of?
- What would you like to learn?
Tip: Choose 3-5 questions. Don’t use 15.
How might leaders hold a great stay interview?
What questions do you suggest?
*Source: The Power of Stay Interviews for Engagement and Retention
4 Ways to Deal with what Really Drives Leaders Crazy
Why ‘stay interviews’ are the next big trend of the Great Resignation
Another winning blog with new and rich ideas for today’s leader. We focus too much on the disgruntled. There is worthy information among those who leave, but a wealth of knowledge to be gained among those loyal and staying… #stayinterviews should come common practice today!
Thank you, Brian. Yes, we focus too much on what’s wrong. It’s easy to do. I appreciate your encouraging comment.
The number one reason people leave companies is due to bad bosses. Is it safe to say an important reason people stay is due to good bosses.
How about a few questions about the boss?
What are 1-to-3 things you most like about the way your boss manages and leads?
How often does your boss give you valuable coaching and feedback?
Thanks, Paul. Brilliant suggestion. Great questions.
The consensus is that exit interviews, where you hear what’s wrong, never get acted on. Is a stay interview just going to provide confirmation bias that everything is OK and no action is needed?
This is a good point, especially if Stay Interviews are conducted by a person with power over the person being interviewed. I heard an (NPR?) story recently referencing Zappos, and how the percentage of employees who stayed rather than taking a parachute payment to leave was portrayed a strong indicator of buy-in. Turns out that most of those employees who stayed did so because there weren’t other good options for them given their employment and/or education status, NOT that they were all that happy being there. This sounds to me like the confirmation bias that you may be referring to.
That said, Stay Interviews, when conducted with people who really ARE happy to be staying, and when conducted by people who genuinely want to hear their answers (and analyze answers across several interviewees) can be a wonderful way to build upon success. How can we make the people who’re happy to be here even MORE happy, and use that information to help others be more happy and successful, staying?
Thanks for the thoughtful text!
Thanks for sharing some great insights, Luci. The challenge of power is important and real. Some suggest that HR perform the interviews.
Nothing replaces genuine care and seeking the best interest of employees, without sacrificing organizational objectives.
Thanks for jumping in, Mitch. Sometimes leaders can’t take action on the feedback they receive. But, I think you’re talking about the pattern of ignoring feedback while pretending to care. In that case, better not to ask at all.
I LOVE this idea!!
Thanks, BMO. Best wishes.