What are stay interviews: Tips, tricks, and stay interview questions to retain your employees

Kailash Ganesh
19 min read
Retain your valuable employees!

Imagine this: you have a team of talented individuals working diligently in your organization. They are the backbone of your success, but lately, you've noticed some signs of restlessness and disengagement among them.

Instead of waiting for the inevitable departure, you decide to take a proactive approach by scheduling stay interviews.

Stay interview template - Research backed stay interview questions to improve your employee retention rate.

or skip to the 45+ stay interview survey questions

Table of contents:-

What is a stay interview?

Allow us to give you tips to conduct a stay interview with top performing employees

Stay interviews are like heart-to-heart conversations with your employees. They create an opportunity for you to connect on a deeper level, uncover valuable insights, and address concerns before they escalate into irreversible issues.

It's like sitting down with a close friend over a cup of coffee, where you discuss everything from career aspirations to areas of improvement.

These interviews are, in essence, a chance to connect on a personal level and understand what makes your current employees want to stick around.

In the upcoming sections, we'll explore valuable tips, tricks, and stay interview questions that can revolutionize your employee retention strategies. So, without further ado, let's embark on this journey together and unlock the power of these retention interviews.

What is the purpose of stay interviews?

Promote psychological safety through effective retention interview for your employee

The purpose of stay interviews is simple yet powerful. It's all about proactively engaging with your employees to create an environment that fosters their loyalty and commitment. By conducting effective stay interviews, you can address any concerns or frustrations before they escalate and lead to your valuable talent walking out the door.

Let's dive into another scenario. You conducted a retention interview with James, a highly skilled team member. Through your conversation, you learn that James is seeking more challenging projects and opportunities to grow.

Armed with this knowledge, you can collaborate with James to find ways to expand his responsibilities or provide him with additional training. This not only increases his job satisfaction but also sends other team members a strong message that you value his growth and development.

Furthermore, the impact of stay interviews extends beyond mere retention. When employees see that their valuable feedback leads to tangible changes, their trust in the organization deepens.

This can foster a culture of open communication where everyone feels heard and valued. The ripple effect is stronger teamwork, heightened morale, and a shared commitment to the company's success.

Incorporating stay interviews into your talent management strategy also showcases your company's forward-thinking approach. In an era where job-hopping is common, demonstrating that you're invested in your employees' long-term growth sets you apart as an employer of choice. This can attract top-tier candidates who are looking for a dream job and a place where they can thrive and evolve.

To maximize the impact of stay interviews, it's essential to ensure confidentiality and anonymity. This encourages employees to share their honest thoughts without fear of repercussions. Creating a safe space for dialogue fosters genuine insights and gives you an unfiltered view of the organization's strengths and areas that need improvement.

What is the difference between an engagement survey and a stay interview?

Don't you want your employees stay?

Think of them as two distinct creatures in the realm of employee feedback.

An engagement survey is like a large-scale census of your workforce. It involves distributing a standardized questionnaire to gather feedback on various aspects of the work environment. It's a bit like taking a company-wide pulse check to gauge overall employee satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.

On the other hand, a retention interview is more like a personal tête-à-tête with individual employees. It's an opportunity for managers to have one-on-one conversations, delve into the unique motivations and concerns of each employee, the new hires, and foster a deeper connection.

So, while an engagement survey provides you with a broad snapshot of the overall employee sentiment, a retention interview, as it is sometimes called, allows you to get up close and personal with individual employees, understanding their specific needs, aspirations, and areas where you can make a difference.

In short, an engagement survey is like surveying the whole forest to get a sense of the ecosystem, for example, while a stay interview is like zooming in on each individual tree to understand its unique story.

What are the benefits of stay interviews? Are stay interviews effective?

Stay interviews are a means to retain your top performers

The benefits of stay interviews are as refreshing as a cool breeze on a summer day! These interviews can work wonders for your company. They help you retain top talent, boost employee engagement, and create a workplace that people actually want to stick around in.

By conducting stay interviews, you gain valuable insights into your employees' motivations, concerns, and career aspirations. Armed with this knowledge, you can tailor your retention strategies, offer opportunities for growth, and address any pain points before they become deal-breakers.

Now, as for their effectiveness, well, let's just say they can be game-changers for many organizations! Stay interviews foster open communication, build trust, and show employees that their voices are heard and valued.

But that's not all – let's delve deeper into the abundant benefits of stay interviews:

  • Enhanced employee satisfaction: When employees see that their opinions matter, it directly boosts their job satisfaction. This positive perception of the workplace can translate into increased commitment and loyalty.
  • Reduced turnover costs: Hiring and training new employees can be costly and time-consuming. By addressing issues through stay interviews, you can prevent talented individuals from walking out the door, saving both time and money.
  • Customized development plans: Stay interviews allow you to create tailored development plans for employees. This individualized approach to growth can accelerate skill-building and career progression.
  • Early issue detection: Stay interviews serve as an early warning system for potential problems. If several employees express similar concerns, you can take proactive steps to resolve underlying issues within the organization.
  • Positive impact on culture: When employees feel valued, a positive organizational culture takes root. This positive vibe ripples through the workplace, leading to increased collaboration and a more harmonious environment.
  • Employee referrals: Satisfied employees are more likely to refer potential candidates to the company. This can help in recruiting high-quality talent who align with your organization's values.
  • Flexible work environment: Through stay interviews, you might uncover preferences for flexible work arrangements or remote options. Adapting to these desires can lead to higher job satisfaction.
  • Managerial improvement: Stay interviews provide insights into managerial effectiveness. If multiple employees express issues with a particular manager, you can address their concerns and provide training if necessary.

When you actively listen and take action based on the feedback received, you'll find that employee satisfaction and loyalty soar to new heights.

Tips for retaining top talent using stay interviews

Here are seven additional pointers to complement the existing content on tips for retaining top talent using stay interviews:

Highlight career pathways

During stay interviews, emphasize the various career pathways within the organization. Show employees a clear trajectory for growth, including potential promotions, skill development, and opportunities to take on more responsibilities. This paints a compelling picture of their future with the company.

Flexibility and work-life balance

Inquire about healthy work-life balance preferences. Use stay interviews to discuss flexible work arrangements, remote work options, or adjusted schedules that align with their needs. Offering a harmonious work-life balance can significantly contribute to employee retention.

Recognize and reward

Incorporate recognition and rewards into stay interviews. Discuss the ways in which the organization acknowledges outstanding performance, whether through bonuses, awards, or public recognition. Feeling valued for their hard work enhances job satisfaction and commitment.

Tailored learning and development

Understand employees' thirst for learning and growth. Use stay interviews to identify their areas of interest and provide learning opportunities that align with their goals. Tailored development plans keep valued employees engaged and invested in their personal and professional progress.

Regular check-ins

Implement regular check-ins as an extension of stay interviews. Schedule periodic conversations to track progress, address new concerns, and fine-tune growth strategies. Consistent communication reinforces the message that the organization is invested in their ongoing success.

Mentorship and coaching

Discuss mentorship and coaching opportunities during stay interviews. Pairing new current employees with experienced mentors or offering coaching sessions can accelerate their growth. This investment not only benefits their development but also enhances their connection to the organization.

Transparent communication

Use stay interviews as a platform for transparent communication. Share the organization's vision, goals, and challenges. When employees understand the bigger picture, they are more likely to feel like an integral part of the team and remain dedicated to its success.

By incorporating these additional pointers into your stay interview strategy, you create a comprehensive approach that not only addresses employees' immediate concerns but also lays the foundation for their long-term engagement and growth within the company.

What are the elements of a stay interview?

These interviews offer a valuable opportunity to engage with your direct reports!

Setting the stage

Create a comfortable and relaxed environment where employees feel safe to share their thoughts openly. Remember, a cozy atmosphere can go a long way in fostering honest conversations.

Thoughtful questions

Prepare a set of well-crafted questions that dig deep into what motivates and engages your employees. From career aspirations to balancing priorities, explore the topics that matter most to them.

Active listening

Listen attentively to what your employees have to say. Give them your undivided attention, show genuine interest, and resist the urge to interrupt. Remember, you're here to understand and support them.

Action-oriented approach

These interviews are only as effective as the actions that follow. That's why, perhaps most importantly, once you gather information and insights from the conversation, you must take proactive steps to address concerns, provide growth opportunities, and show employees that their feedback matters.

Customized development plans

Based on the valuable employee feedback and aspirations, collaborate to create a tailored development plan. This plan might include specialized training, cross-functional projects, or mentoring opportunities, showcasing your commitment to their growth.

Clear communication of expectations

Discuss the employee's expectations from the organization and vice versa. This alignment ensures a mutual understanding of roles, responsibilities, and performance standards, reducing the chances of dissatisfaction due to unclear expectations.

Recognition and appreciation

Express genuine appreciation for the employee's contributions. Acknowledge their achievements and the impact they've had on the team and the organization. Feeling valued boosts morale and reinforces their connection to the company.

Feedback loop

Encourage a two-way feedback exchange. Inquire about ways the employee believes the organization could improve, as well as suggestions for their own development. This reciprocity enhances the sense of partnership.

Regular follow-ups

Stay interviews should not be isolated events. Schedule regular follow-ups to track progress, revisit goals, and adapt strategies as needed. This ongoing commitment reinforces your dedication to their well-being and growth.

By combining these elements, you'll create a retention interview experience that leaves a lasting impact and helps you create a workplace where people are motivated to stay and thrive.

How to conduct a stay interview?

Picture it as a friendly and insightful conversation, a chance to truly understand your employee's thoughts and aspirations.

First, set the stage. Choose a comfortable and private setting where your employee can open up without any distractions. It could be a cozy corner in a café or a quiet meeting room. The idea is to create an atmosphere that encourages genuine sharing.

Next, begin with a warm welcome. Break the ice with a friendly greeting and let them know that their input is valued. Express your genuine interest in their experiences and future plans within the company.

Now, it's time to ask thoughtful questions. Instead of yes or no queries, delve into open-ended questions that spark meaningful discussions. Explore their goals, challenges, and what they enjoy most about their role.

Active listening is key. Give your full attention and avoid interruptions. Listen not just to their words, but to the emotions behind them. This shows that you truly care and want to understand their perspective.

As they share, ask follow-up questions. Dig deeper into their responses to gain a comprehensive understanding. This encourages them to reflect and provide richer insights.

Remember, it's not just about gathering information. It's about taking action. Once they've shared their thoughts, discuss potential growth opportunities, address any concerns, and outline steps for the future. This is where the magic happens – turning insights into actions.

Lastly, show appreciation for their time and honesty. Let them know how valuable their input is and how their feedback contributes to the company's improvement.

Conducting a stay interview program is about fostering a genuine connection and demonstrating your commitment to their success. It's a chance to nurture loyalty, growth, and a workplace where employees thrive.

Who should conduct stay interviews?

Who should conduct these interviews?

Stay interviews are best conducted by managers or supervisors who have a direct relationship with the employees they'll be interviewing. After all, familiarity breeds comfort, and it's easier for employees to open up to someone they trust and interact with regularly.

Ideally, managers who are approachable, empathetic, and skilled in active listening make great candidates for conducting stay interviews. They should have a genuine interest in their employees' well-being and be committed to taking action based on the insights gathered and answers received.

When should you conduct stay interviews?

Get valuable data through comprehensive interviews 

The timing of stay interviews is a crucial aspect to consider! It's best to conduct stay interviews regularly throughout the year to maintain an ongoing dialogue with your employees. However, there are specific moments when stay interviews can be particularly valuable:

At key milestones

Schedule stay interviews when employees reach significant milestones like work anniversaries or the completion of important projects. It's an excellent opportunity to reflect on their journey, acknowledge their achievements, and discuss future growth plans.

During periods of change

When your organization undergoes significant changes such as restructuring, mergers, or leadership transitions, it's wise to conduct stay interviews. These times of uncertainty can trigger employee concerns, and stay interviews provide a chance to address them and reinforce the commitment to their development.

Before performance evaluations

Stay interviews can be conducted before or in conjunction with performance evaluations. They offer a chance to gather valuable insights that can inform the evaluation process and help tailor development plans based on the employee's aspirations and honest feedback.

Periodic check-ins

Incorporate stay interviews into your regular check-in schedule. This shows that you care about their growth and development consistently, not just when problems arise.

Pre-performance reviews

Right before performance reviews is a great time. It aligns with discussions about goals and expectations, allowing you to link their aspirations to actionable steps.

After successful projects

When your team member knocks a project out of the park, that's the moment. Their confidence is high, and discussing their next challenge can keep the momentum going.

When they shine

Notice when they're shining brightly – maybe they've mentored a colleague or shown exceptional leadership. Use that momentum to explore their career path and how they want to shape it.

Remember, the aim is to catch them in a moment of reflection, when they're contemplating their journey, their value, and their future. Stay interviews are like tuning in to a radio station that plays the soundtrack of their professional aspirations.

What are some stay interview best practices?

Here are a few tips to make your stay interviews a success:

Prepare with purpose

Before conducting a stay interview, take the time to prepare thoughtful questions that align with your organization's goals and the individual employee's needs. This preparation shows your genuine interest and helps guide the conversation.

Create a safe space

Establish an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns openly. Assure them that their feedback is valued and will be treated confidentially. This trust is essential for honest and productive discussions.

Active listening

Practice active listening during the stay interview. Focus on the employee's words, ask follow-up questions to clarify their points, and show empathy. This demonstrates your commitment to understanding their perspective.

Take action

The true power of stay interviews lies in the actions that follow. Use the insights gained and information gathered from the interviews to develop retention strategies, address concerns, and provide growth opportunities. Show employees that their feedback leads to tangible improvements.

How can stay interviews help to improve employee retention?

Address concerns proactively

By engaging in stay interviews, you have the opportunity to identify and address concerns before they escalate into reasons for leaving. This proactive approach demonstrates your commitment to employee satisfaction and helps prevent unwanted departures.

Tailor retention strategies

Stay interviews provide insights into what motivates and engages your employees. Armed with this knowledge, you can develop personalized retention strategies that align with their aspirations and needs. This targeted approach increases the likelihood of employees feeling valued and motivated to stay.

Enhance job satisfaction

Through stay interviews, you gain a deeper understanding of what drives job satisfaction for each employee. By taking action on their feedback, such as offering growth opportunities or adjusting work responsibilities, you create a more fulfilling work environment that encourages retention.

Strengthen employee-manager relationships:

Stay interviews foster open and honest communication and establish trust between employees and managers. This trust and connection build stronger relationships, making employees more likely to stay with a company where they feel understood and supported.

Can stay interviews help improve employee engagement and satisfaction?

Stay interviews are like a powerful potion that can work wonders for employee engagement and satisfaction. Think of them as a direct line to your employees' thoughts, feelings, and aspirations.

You see, engagement and satisfaction aren't just buzzwords; they're the backbone of a thriving workplace. And stay interviews? They're like a tailor-made suit for your company culture. When you proactively engage with your employees, listen to their concerns, and address their needs, it's like telling them, "Hey, you matter."

Imagine an employee sitting down with you, sharing their dreams and concerns, and you responding with actions. That's a game-changer. When employees feel valued and heard, their loyalty deepens. It's not just about them staying in the company; it's about them being fully invested in it.

Stay interviews bridge the gap between intention and action. They're not just chats; they're a blueprint for making meaningful changes. When you show employees that their feedback matters, you're building a culture of trust and transparency.

Engagement and satisfaction thrive when employees believe that their growth matters and that their voices have weight. Stay interviews are your tool to make this belief a reality. They're your secret weapon to turn an ordinary workplace into an extraordinary one – where employees don't just work, they thrive.

Stay interview vs. exit interview

Let's break it down:

Stay interviews engage and retain employees by understanding their needs, motivations, and concerns. They uncover growth opportunities, address dissatisfaction, and tailor retention strategies for an engaged and committed workforce.

On the other hand, exit interviews gather feedback from every departing employee to learn from their experiences, identify organizational issues, and enhance future retention efforts. Retention interviews are proactive, aiming to retain employees before they leave, while exit interviews provide insights after the decision to depart has been made.

Adding to this distinction, stay interviews focus on the present and future. They delve into an employee's current experiences, aspirations, and what would make them continue to thrive within the organization. This proactive approach not only prevents turnover but also strengthens the employer-employee relationship.

In contrast, exit interviews look backward to the employee's journey. They explore the factors that contributed to the decision to leave, whether it's due to dissatisfaction, lack of growth, or other concerns. This retrospective insight is invaluable for identifying systemic issues and implementing changes that can prevent similar departures in the future.

Moreover, stay interviews foster a culture of continuous improvement and open communication. By addressing concerns and providing growth opportunities, employees feel valued and heard. This, in turn, boosts morale and job satisfaction, leading to higher engagement and longer tenures.

Exit interviews, on the other hand, offer a chance to identify trends in turnover and make targeted changes. They can reveal patterns in terms of departments, managers, or specific issues that need attention. This data-driven approach provides actionable insights for enhancing the overall work environment and employee experience.

In essence, stay interviews and exit interviews are two sides of the same coin, each playing a crucial role in shaping an organization's employee retention strategies. Stay interviews prevent talent from leaving, while exit interviews ensure that those who do leave contribute to a more informed and improved workplace for those who stay.

Reasons why you should conduct stay interviews

  • According to Employee Benefits News, the cost of losing an employee amounts to a staggering 33% of their annual salary.
  • As per Gallup, 74% of actively disengaged employees and 55% of not engaged employees actively seek new job opportunities, while only 30% of engaged employees do the same.
  • Gallup reports that replacing an individual employee can cost the organization from half to twice the employee’s salary. This means that losing an employee earning $80,000 annually can result in expenses of up to $160,000 for the company.
  • CareerBuilder highlights that nearly 75% of companies acknowledge making hiring mistakes, with each bad hire causing an average of $14,900 in costs. Such hires negatively impact productivity, work quality, and recruitment efficiency.
  • According to Gallup, only around 10% of individuals possess high talent for effective management. Companies that identify and train suitable managers reap substantial benefits, as they contribute approximately 48% more profit to their organizations compared to average managers.

45+ Stay interview questions you must ask to improve employee retention

45+ Stay interview questions

Career sevelopment and growth:

  1. What are your long-term career goals, and how can we support your growth within the organization?
  2. Are there any specific skills or competencies you would like to develop in your current role?
  3. What opportunities for advancement or promotion do you see for yourself within the company?
  4. What new roles or responsibilities do you envision yourself taking on in the next few years?
  5. Are there any particular projects or initiatives you'd like to lead to contribute to your professional growth?
  6. How can the organization better align your career aspirations with available opportunities?

Job satisfaction and engagement:

  1. What aspects of your job do you find most fulfilling and enjoyable?
  2. Are there any tasks or responsibilities you would like to take on to enhance your job satisfaction?
  3. How do you feel about the level of recognition and appreciation you receive for your work?
  4. Are there any recent accomplishments that you're particularly proud of in your current role?
  5. What would make your daily work experience even more enjoyable and fulfilling?
  6. Is there a specific aspect of your role that you'd like to focus on to enhance your job satisfaction?

Work-life balance:

  1. How well do you feel your current work-life flow and balance is being supported?
  2. Are there any adjustments or accommodations that would improve your work-life balance?
  3. How can we help you manage stress and prevent burnout?
  4. In what ways can we assist you in creating a more seamless transition between work and personal life?
  5. Are there specific work-related tasks or expectations that you believe affect your work-life balance negatively?
  6. How do you envision a more supportive approach to managing your workload and personal commitments?

Communication and feedback:

  1. Do you feel comfortable expressing your opinions and ideas in the workplace?
  2. How do you prefer to receive feedback, and is there anything we can do to improve the feedback process?
  3. Is there any information or communication you feel is lacking within the organization?
  4. Are there any suggestions you have for enhancing the flow of information across different teams and departments?
  5. How can we foster an environment where open and honest feedback is encouraged from all team members?
  6. Is there a specific way you'd prefer to provide feedback to your colleagues and manager for improved collaboration?

Relationship with manager and team:

  1. How would you describe your working relationship with your manager?
  2. Are there any areas where you feel your manager could provide more support or guidance?
  3. How would you rate the level of collaboration and teamwork within your team with your team members?
  4. What additional steps can your manager take to better assist you in achieving your professional goals?
  5. Are there opportunities for increased cross-functional collaboration that you believe could benefit your team's performance?
  6. How would you describe the camaraderie among your team members, and can you suggest ways to enhance it?

Learning and development:

  1. What types of training or professional development opportunities would you like to see offered?
  2. How can we better support your continuous learning and skill enhancement?
  3. Are there any specific certifications or courses you would like to pursue?
  4. Are there skills outside of your current role that you'd like to develop to broaden your expertise?
  5. What support mechanisms can we implement to facilitate continuous learning and growth for you and your team?
  6. Are there any emerging industry trends or technologies you'd like to explore through training or workshops?

Recognition and rewards:

  1. How do you feel about the recognition and rewards programs in place at the company?
  2. Are there any specific forms of recognition or rewards that would make you feel more valued?
  3. Do you believe your compensation and benefits package is competitive and fair?
  4. How do you think we can make the recognition and rewards programs more meaningful and impactful?
  5. Are there unique forms of recognition or rewards that you believe could resonate well with your colleagues?
  6. In your opinion, how well does the organization's compensation philosophy align with your expectations?

Work environment:

  1. How would you describe the overall work environment and company culture?
  2. Are there any changes or improvements you suggest to enhance the work environment?
  3. What specific cultural aspects do you believe contribute positively to the work environment, and how can we amplify them?
  4. Are there any physical changes to the workspace that could enhance your overall experience?
  5. How can we ensure that diversity and inclusion remain central to our company culture as we grow?

These questions are intended to assess various aspects of workplace culture and can serve as a valuable tool for organizations to understand and then improve employee satisfaction, to create a positive and engaging work environment. Follow up on these questions and ensure that the employee's feelings are addressed to improve their current position.

We understand that compiling the perfect stay interview survey or making a list of pertinent questions to ask might be tedious, so consider using the experts!

CultureMonkey offers a wide range of engagement surveys, including employee manager effectiveness, employee experience surveys, work-life balance surveys, mental health surveys, and much more to accurately measure employee satisfaction and sense of belonging towards your organization to improve retention rates. We are your secret weapon.


How do you run a stay interview?

To run a stay interview, schedule one-on-one conversations with employees, ask open-ended questions about every employee experience, listen attentively, and provide a supportive environment. Use their insights to address concerns, offer growth opportunities, and tailor retention strategies.

Why is a stay interview important?

Stay interviews are important as they proactively engage employees, uncover their needs, boost satisfaction, and retain talent. They help create a supportive work environment, identify growth opportunities, address concerns, and enhance overall employee engagement and commitment.

Who should have a stay interview?

Stay interviews can be conducted with any employee within the organization. It is beneficial for employers to have these interviews with both high-performing employees to reinforce their engagement and with employees who may be at risk of leaving to address any concerns and retain them.

How do you persuade staff to stay?

To persuade staff to stay, focus on fostering a positive work culture, offer competitive compensation and benefits, provide growth opportunities, recognize and appreciate their contributions, offer work-life balance support, and actively address their concerns through stay interviews and open communication.

What is another name for stay interviews?

Stay interviews are sometimes referred to as retention interviews or retention conversations. These terms highlight the purpose of these interviews, which is to engage and retain employees within the organization.

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash is a Product Marketer with 5+ years of experience. He loves story-telling in the simplest way possible and he is an avid reader, movie buff, and likes to travel new places to meet new people.