A stay interview is something conducted by HR personnel and managers so that they can understand why employees decide to stay in their jobs, and why they decide to leave for another opportunity. When companies hire an organization that trains managers on how to give the best stay interview, these leaders will learn how to give an effective stay interview that will ultimately increase employee retention and feed the organization with valuable data on employee attitudes.

What Makes a Stay Interview Effective?

The best stay interview will run no more than 30 minutes. The questions managers ask should be structured so there is a clear flow, and the questions should be very standard. In the stay interview, you will want to listen for roughly 80% of the time. It is important to let the employee speak clearly and freely. Not only will they be more comfortable, but you have a better shot at getting truthful information that can be used to strengthen your organization.

What are Examples of Questions to Ask in a Stay Interview?

The first mistake managers make is they will ask questions in a stay interview that really belong in an exit interview, so make sure you know the difference. One way to consider a stay interview is to regard it as the opposite of an exit interview. Rather than asking the employee why he is quitting, ask him what motivates him to stay. Ask him how their work experience can be better and what they envision as the next step in their career within the company.

Some common questions to ask include:

  • What do you most look forward to when you come to work?
  • What do you dread the most about an average work day?
  • When was the last time you thought about quitting your job?
  • What caused you to think about leaving?
  • Would you recommend a friend or family member to work at our company?
  • What is the best part of your job?
  • What part of your job would you remove?
  • What talents do you have that aren’t being utilized in your job?
  • Are you getting clear objectives and goals?
  • As your supervisor, what can I do more or less of to make your job more enjoyable?
  • Do you feel the company values you?
  • How would you like to be recognized at work for all of your wins?
  • What should we change in the office?
  • Do you have all of the tools and resources to do your job well?

Make sure to ask these questions in a very casual manner; have your stay interview over a cup of coffee and use relaxed body language. This will help your employee feel more at ease and will open up the door for an honest conversation.

Don’t be Afraid to Probe the Employee in a Stay Interview

In some cases, you may have an employee that answers your questions in short answers without much detail. They may be feeling uneasy, so when you probe, do so gently, and this will help convey to your employee that you genuinely care about their opinion, and be sure to tell them right off the bat that you genuinely care. When asking deeper questions don’t shy away from the “why”–let the employee know why you are asking these questions so they don’t feel like they are being cross examined.

Pay Attention to Emotional Words

Is the employee answering your questions while using words like “angry”, “frustrating”, intimidating” or “exhausting”? Be sure to note down all emotional words, and after the stay interview, determine the overall emotional status of that employee. The goal is to make the necessary changes so that when you give your next stay interview, the person switches to using words like ‘motivated”, “empowered” “fulfilled”, “happy”, and “grateful”. Emotional words offer managers a great thermometer for testing employee morale, and this can be used to determine if the person is on the verge of quitting, or if they seem like they are content or delighted in their role.