Free Member Webcast – Conducting stay interviews to keep your best employees around

Document created by 1017515 on Feb 22, 2015Last modified by 1002028 on Mar 17, 2015
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Tempted by the prospect of landing a better job, more and more employees are weighing their options.  According to a recent LinkedIn study, 85% of the workforce is either actively looking for a job or open to talking to recruiters about relevant opportunities; even the ones who are “satisfied” with their jobs.


One way to curb this looming flight of key talent from your company is to conduct stay interviews with existing employees.  Below I cover the mechanics of conducting stay interviews.  I also invite you to view our recent webcast on the topic. 

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Question:  What is a Stay Interview and How are They Conducted?


Answer:  By definition, a “stay interview” is a structured retention interview between a manager and an “at risk of leaving” employee, designed to discover and reinforce the factors that first attracted the employee to the organization and the factors that drive them to remain with their employer.  This type of interview is designed to also uncover any factors that might cause the employee to consider leaving, and to minimize those factors wherever possible. The desired result is the “stay interview” will eliminate the need for an eventual “exit interview” with the employee by encouraging them to re-assess their desire to seek other opportunities.





A “stay interview” will identify and address problems before they become so frustrating the employee desires to simply exit the job.  It can also help you identify the positive things about your workplace that you want to reinforce.




  • Demonstrates concern of management.  Employees will tend to stay with a company when they feel management genuinely cares about their happiness, frustrations and career goals.


  • Shines a light on current work relationships. Working relationships between the employee and their peers, managers and customer base are discussed.  Issues can be addressed and resolved before they become larger problems.


  • Learn what the company is doing well.  As employees share what they like about working at your company, take note of it and do more of it.  Chances are, if this employee is satisfied with these factors, others will be as well.  This knowledge is powerful for both retention and recruiting.


  • Understanding the issues.  Find out what exactly would make this employee consider leaving their current position.  Ask specifically if any of these issues are present in their current work environment or associated with their current job description.  Are there personality conflicts, concerns over corporate culture, or other issues causing job dissatisfaction that can be addressed and resolved?


  • Offer your help.  Have a clear understanding of your own role in the organization so you can confidently and authoritatively offer your assistance in helping to resolve these issues.  Some things may be completely out of your control, so be careful not to overcommit. However, there are likely to be several opportunities where you can make a difference for this employee.


Who Interviews?


Usually, the employee’s immediate manager will conduct a “stay interview.”  This builds trust in the employee-manager relationship.  However, if you suspect the manager could be one of the issues causing an employee to consider leaving, Human Resources should conduct the “stay interview.”


Who is Interviewed?


  • Any key employee whose departure would really hurt the company.


  • Any employee who is currently “at risk” of leaving due to known issues.


  • New hires - between their 3rd and 9th month of employment.




Most “stay interviews” are conducted once a year with employees considered “at risk.”  New hires should have a “stay interview” twice in the first nine months of employment to address any issues and ease early frustrations that are often associated with starting a new job.  Most “stay interviews” last less than an hour and are very informal. Employees are more at ease and forthcoming at an informal meeting.




Having a form or set list of questions gives the impression of a formal meeting and seems more like a job interview.  This is not the meeting environment you want if you desire to get the most information possible from the meeting.  Start with a few very natural questions in mind, and let the answers drive to the next question.  Examples include:


  • What do you like about your current job?


  • Do you feel you are making a contribution to the company and your co-workers?


  • Do you feel the company values you as an employee?


  • Is management listening to you and taking your ideas / suggestions seriously?


  • How would you manage differently if you and I could trade places?


  • Are you getting quality feedback from the organization?


  • What is the best part of your job?  Least favorite?


  • Are there skills you have that you feel we are not utilizing?


  • When was the last time you felt frustrated at work? What happened?


  • What made you leave your last job?  Do you see any similarities here?


  • Tell me how I can help you right now, today.


For more information, register for the Advice and Resolution Corner Plus members-only webcast scheduled for Wednesday, March 11, 2015 from 8:30am until 9:00am. You can self-register for this webinar at  During this webcast, I (Renee) will dive deeper into this topic to ensure you are prepared to plan, conduct and follow-up on the very effective stay interviews. If you have additional questions, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.


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