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Questions to ask during a Stay Interview

Considering the Great Resignation and the ongoing ‘war for talent’, companies can’t afford to wait until an employee resigns to understand why they left. Exit interviews are a great lagging indicator of poor employee engagement but they come at the expense of losing good employees.  Have you considered a ‘Stay Interview’?  A Stay Interview is ideal because you are checking the pulse of current employees and gaining their trust by understanding why they continue to work for your company.

The results of a Stay Interview provide you with much needed intelligence about what the company can improve on (or keep doing) in order to retain your valued employees. If your company wants to prioritize open communication and employee engagement, Stay Interviews are useful for identifying areas that need improvement – and things that your current employees value.


  • Reinforcing two-way communication and building trust between managers and employees.
  • Learning what employees enjoy about your company and understanding where there may be challenges.

Focus on a few

You don’t have to interview everyone, nor should you. Focus on long-term employees, high-performers, and those rising stars among the new hires. For balance, you may also want to consider speaking to less engaged employees.

Conduct interviews regularly

Stay Interviews should be an annual activity. For new hires, wait until they are settled into the role. Keep the Stay Interview separate from your Performance Review process.  Schedule the interviews as closely together as possible to allow for prompt action of any concerns.

Who initiates?

First-line Managers have the closest relationships with employees and should have the trust to obtain the most honest feedback from the Stay Interviews.

Follow an agenda

A Stay Interview should last 30 minutes to an hour. Each meeting should follow a consistent template to ensure each employee is asked the same questions. At the end, the manager should summarize what they heard to ensure the responses were well understood and then consolidate the feedback.

Look for patterns

All responses should be consolidated centrally to be analyzed and acted upon. They can be a great tool for increasing loyalty and employee advocacy, but only if the feedback is taken seriously and acted upon.

Questions to ask in a Stay Interview

Some of these questions will be harder to ask and answer than others. If employees are hesitant to answer, that could be an early indication of a problem and potential trust issue on your team. When deciding which questions to ask, break the ice with lighter ones and gradually progress to more thought provoking.

Allow employees time to think about their responses – don’t be uncomfortable with silence. You can also consider providing the questions in advance, so the employee has time to think about and prepare their answers.

  • What do you like most about your job?
  • What would make your job even more satisfying?
  • Within the past year, tell me about your best day at work?
  • What do you think about on your way to work?
  • What do you think about on your way home from work?
  • Do you feel your work is properly recognized?
  • Do you feel fully utilized in your current role?
  • What are one or two things you’d like to change about your role?
  • Within the past year, what has caused you anxiety or frustration?
  • How would you rate your work-life balance? How could it be improved?
  • Do you feel you’re getting clear direction on your goals and objectives?
  • Do you have the tools and resources to do your job properly? If not, what is missing?
  • Is there anything I can do to be a better manager?
  • What are we currently not doing as a company that you feel we should?
  • Have you actively searched for a different job in the past year? Why would you consider leaving?
  • Would you recommend our company to job-seeking friends? Why (not)?

By allowing employees to express openly and safely what they want in their role and from the organization the payback is immeasurable.  Rather than struggling to find your dream talent in a very competitive market, you will retain happy, productive, and engaged employees who want to stay and grow with you.

Invest in creating exceptional employee experiences and retain your best!  

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