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5 Powerful Stay Interview Questions to Increase Retention

6 min read

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record 4.5 million American workers quit their jobs last November. This figure suggests that the Great Resignation isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. As a result of this, many companies are now choosing to pre-empt the traditional exit interview by asking their employees a series of stay interview questions before they make the decision to leave the company.

Read on to discover what a stay interview is and how it can help you keep your finger on the pulse of your workforce. We will also take a look at some of the questions you should be asking your employees to find out if they are satisfied or if they are already looking for other job opportunities.



What Is a Stay Interview?

The ‘stay interview’ has become the next big trend of the Great Resignation. Unlike exit interviews which are conducted once an employee has handed in their resignation, a stay interview is held with staff at all stages of the employee life cycle to find out whether they are happy in their role and what they would like to change.

Holding regular meetings and asking the right stay interview questions can help you figure out what needs improving before your employees make the decision to walk out the door. It can help your managers promote a growth mindset and understand how to create a healthy work environment. You can also gain valuable information that can help you improve the employee experience in your company and retain more employees. What’s more, meeting regularly is a great way to improve communication, develop trust and measure employee engagement. Because of this, many companies are now favoring stay interviews over the traditional employee satisfaction survey.

Think of a stay interview as the opposite of an exit interview. Instead of asking why an employee is quitting, you are asking your employees what motivates them to stay, how you can improve their experience, and where they see themselves progressing. This is vital for keeping your employees happy. And the happier they are, the more likely they are to stay at your company. After all, the emotional salary an employee receives can be just as important as money.

How to Ask Stay Interview Questions: Tips and Tricks

Before we look at some of the stay interview questions you can ask your employees, we are going to share a few tips and tricks to help you get the most from the exercise:

  • First and foremost, stay interviews should be informal and conversational. Your employees will only open up to you if they feel it is safe to do so. If you make the interview too formal, your employees may worry about the implications of their feedback. Reassure them that they can speak freely and you are open to all their feedback, good and bad.
  • Listen, listen, listen. This is vital. Ask the right stay interview questions to guide the conversation, but what matters most is listening to what your employees have to say. Maintain eye contact and pay attention without the distraction of thinking about your next question.
  • Stay interviews are a great tool for making your employees feel seen, heard and valued. Ask them what they think and try to gather as much honest feedback as positive. If time is limited, it’s more important to get full, honest opinions about a handful of questions rather than rush to work through your entire list. The aim is to get answers, not ask questions.
  • Take notes to capture key points, but make sure your notes don’t distract you from focusing on the conversation.
  • Commit to making positive changes based on the feedback you receive.
  • Aim to hold stay interviews at least a couple of times a year. Even better, encourage your managers to ask the questions in this post during their everyday conversations with their employees.
  • Most importantly, remind your employees that their stay interviews are not tied to their performance reviews in any way. That is not the point of the exercise.

5 Stay Interview Questions to Ask Your Team

Your stay interviews should focus on three main things: how your employees feel about their jobs; the value of their contributions; and whether they are happy in your company. The right questions will help you identify any potential problem areas and what you can do to reaffirm your employees’ organizational commitment and engagement.

The questions you ask should also help your employees understand that:

  • You recognize and appreciate their value.
  • You care about more than just their performance.
  • You’re open to making changes that would improve their employee experience.

Here are 5 common stay interview questions that you can include in your conversations.

What Do You Enjoy About Your Job?

Of all the employee retention interview questions, this one gives you the most input about each employee’s daily duties and challenges. This gives you the opportunity to address specific issues. More importantly, the more feedback you collect, the more likely you will spot potential patterns or trends which may highlight a bigger issue in certain departments or roles.

What Are You Learning Here, and What Do You Want to Learn?

This question is more focused on skill gaps and opportunities for career development. It helps you identify potential candidates for promotion, and areas where L&D or coaching in the workplace may be of benefit.

Have You Ever Thought About Leaving the Company?

Of all the retention questions to ask employees, this is perhaps the most revealing.

This question may seem direct, but it is worth addressing as it can give you some of the most valuable feedback you can get from these interviews. Most employees will have considered leaving at one point or another. This gives you a chance to find out what the main reasons are before an employee reaches a point where there is no going back.

You may find that some employees don’t feel they are being challenged enough. Or perhaps they are being challenged too much. Maybe certain departments have leadership issues or employees don’t have the support or resources they need to perform well.

Are they happy with the opportunities they are receiving? What do they think about the company culture? Are they motivated? Do they have any issues with management styles or communication?

What about hypotheticals – what situation would cause them to leave your company?

This information is gold.
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Do You Feel Valued and Recognized in the Company?

Asking your employees whether they feel valued and recognized is a great way of showing them that you prioritize nurturing the employee experience. You could ask them questions like, “What is employee empowerment, to you?”. You can also find out which employees need more vocalized reassurance that they are doing a good job.

By showing appreciation to your employees, and showing them that you value their contribution, you will motivate them to be more engaged and productive.

As Your Manager, Is There Anything Else I Can Do to Support You?

Finally, it’s important to make sure your employees feel they are getting the right support. If they don’t, then you can make adjustments to optimize the employee experience and help them find a healthy employee work life balance.

Do you have the right processes in place for internal communications? Do your employees feel comfortable asking you for support when needed? Are you giving your employees the resources they need to perform their duties? Is there anything they feel is lacking from your management style?

These forms of retention questions for employees are especially important during difficult times where you may not be physically present so that you avoid any potential employee burnout in remote workers.

The Importance of Stay Interview Questions and Employee Feedback

There are a number of reasons why it is important to hold regular stay interviews and gather valuable employee feedback:

  • Improves employee engagement. Stay interviews are a great way to find out what your employees like and dislike about working at your company. It also helps them feel heard and valued, which increases employee motivation, satisfaction and engagement. The feedback you gather also helps you make the right changes so that future employees also feel happy working for you.
  • Helps you identify areas for learning and development. Stay interviews can be a great tool for identifying L&D gaps. You might discover that certain employees are lacking the skills they need for their jobs, or others are looking for opportunities for promotion.
  • Brings positive change. Asking the right stay interview questions gives you a wealth of valuable feedback which you can convert into specific actions. This helps you foster an environment of continuous improvement and positive change.
  • Increases employee retention. Most importantly, maintaining open lines of communication, showing employees that you value their feedback, and implementing positive changes can help you create an environment that attracts and retains top talent.

Another great way to gain valuable insight into your workforce is by using our free workplace stress survey. The contents of this survey will help you to detect symptoms and find solutions for stress that members of your workforce may be struggling with. You can use it to develop wellness programs based on the feedback you get from your stay interview questions. This will help you nurture a happy, motivated, and loyal workforce that helps you reach your overall goals as a company.

Cat Symonds is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Originally from Wales, she studied Spanish and French at the University of Swansea before moving to Barcelona where she lived and worked for 12 years. She has since relocated back to Wales where she continues to build her business, working with clients in Spain and the UK.  Cat is the founder of The Content CAT: Content And Translation, providing content development and translation services to her clients. She specializes in corporate blogs, articles of interest, ghostwriting, and translation (SP/FR/CA into EN), collaborating with a range of companies from a variety of business sectors. She also offers services to a number of NGOs including Oxfam Intermón, UNICEF, and Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership.  For more information or to contact Cat visit her website ( or send her a message through LinkedIn.

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