15 Questions for a Stay Interview

Recruiting new employees is a very time-consuming and expensive process. One study found that it costs roughly $4,129 to hire a new employee with around 42 days to fill a position. This can cause undue stress on other employees and the company’s bottom line. Retaining current employees can be a difficult task, but it is much more cost-effective and efficient. Stay interviews are becoming more and more popular and are a great way to find out what is causing issues with your current employees so you can stop the hemorrhaging before it’s too late.

What is a Stay Interview? 

A stay interview is an interview conducted one-on-one with a current, high-performing employee in order to determine what they like about their job and what they would like to see change. Stay interviews are often confused with exit interviews. They are two entirely different concepts. An exit interview is conducted with human resources after a person has resigned. This is to understand why they decided to leave. A stay interview is with an active employee with the goal of reducing employee turnover. One study found that stay interviews can improve turnover by 20%. It is important to understand what is working for current employees and what their biggest pain points are, in order to retain quality, efficient talent.  

Since managers work with employees directly and have context for their specific positions, they are best equipped to conduct stay interviews. They understand what the employees are dealing with and can relate better. It is also an opportunity for the manager to really get to know their employees in order to create better communication. 

It is also important to choose the right employees for the stay interview. High-performing employees are top candidates because they would be missed greatly if they were to take another position. New hires are also at a high risk of turnover, so scheduling a stay interview with new hires around 90 days after their start date would be a great process to implement. 

15 Insightful Stay Interview Questions

It is important to spend time creating a list of stay interview questions that will help you get the most information possible out of these interviews. Here are some suggestions that can inspire your own list. Remember to actively listen to the answer to each question and come up with some follow-up questions to increase engagement and make sure you understand completely. 

1. What is your favorite part of your job? 

This is a great ice breaker as it starts the interview by asking the employee to say something positive. They will be much more comfortable sharing this information and it will set the tone moving forward for the stay interview. This is also important information to obtain, as it can help you as an employer know what your employees enjoy about their positions so you can try and make sure those features are highlighted. 

2. What is your least favorite part of your job?

This is the natural next step in the stay interview. After you have created a safe space for employees to express themselves, find out what their pain points are. Be sure to ask clarifying questions such as, “What can I do to help support you in this part of your job?”

3. Do you feel recognized for your achievements? 

It is part of human nature to want to feel recognized for one’s hard work. Find out if your employee feels that their hard work is appreciated. You can ask follow-up questions that will find out how they would like to feel appreciated.  Looking for a way to show your employees they are appreciated? Try an ecard that will congratulate them on a job well done. Get the whole team involved so they feel recognized. 

4. Do you feel you have a good work-life balance?

Work-life balance alludes to someone having a good balance between their time at work, and the quality of their time at home. It has risen to the top of the priority lists in many employees' minds. It has also been shown to increase overall happiness and productivity. Employees who feel they are able to have a life outside of the office, are more willing to be focused while they are at work. It pays dividends for employers to consider the importance of a flexible schedule or additional time off.  

5. Do you feel like a valued employee? What would help you feel more valued? 

This is a great interview question, and can seem similar to “do you feel recognized for your work”. However, it is a different question entirely. Not everyone finds value in being recognized for their work. Find out if your employee feels valued and what you can do to help them feel more valued during the workday. It could be perks, more projects, asking for their input in meetings, or even additional time off being provided so they can rest and rejuvenate. It is important to actively listen to their response and incorporate their suggestions into your management style moving forward. This will help keep employees engaged and productive. 

6. Do you think that you have room to have your voice heard?

One important aspect of employee retention is feeling heard at work. It can be intimidating for individuals to feel that there is space for them to share their opinions. Meetings can be overwhelming and hard to get a word in. Be sure you are including all members of a meeting in the discussion. Ask questions of each person and invite them to share ideas. It is important to have a respectful response to each contribution in order to encourage further workplace engagement. Not all comments will be a perfect idea, but if you keep someone talking, you will eventually see the positive things they have to offer. Be the type of manager that draws out each employee’s potential. This is a great place to follow up with, how can I help you feel more heard? 

7. Do you consider your relationship with your boss to be a good one? 

You will be surprised at how much employees desire a good relationship with their manager. It is often said that managers can make or break many job positions. Gallup conducted a study that found that nearly 50% of people in the job market, left their previous role due to a manager.  Managers are clearly a key ingredient in employee satisfaction. Find out where you stand with your employee. Ask them how you can help improve that relationship. Do they want more meetings? Do they hate being micro-managed? What level of your involvement are they looking for? There is no way to know until you ask. 

8. In the past, describe a day at work that has caused you frustration.

It can be difficult for many people to articulate overreaching themes or pinpoint specific things that are hard for them at work. However, many people can think of a bad day they have had at work recently. Have them detail that to you. Look for the causes of their stress and dive into it. Find ways to avoid or alleviate those pain points in order to improve the employee experience. Many times, if you just work through it, you will help them find a solution to the cause.  

9. What part of your job do you look forward to the most? 

Everyone has that motivation that gets them up and coming to work every morning. This question is a great way to find out what your employees value most about their position and whether or not your company is doing a good job of fostering those things.  Find a way to expand upon that aspect and pull it into other parts of their job. This is a great way to make sure you are meeting the needs of your employees that they prioritize most. 

10. What are your professional goals? Do you feel you are working towards them in your current position? 

Oftentimes, part of the breakdown in communication between managers and employees is that management is unaware of what their employees are working toward. It is impossible to support employees in their personal and professional growth if you are unaware of what it is they are working towards. If employees do not see upward mobility or the potential for growth in their current position, this can be a major cause of burnout and churn. Listen to the individual employee feedback and find projects or skills they can work on within their current positions. It would also be great to help them build out a 5-year plan within the company and their role so they can see the potential. 

11. What do you like about the professional development programs we offer? What can we improve? 

This is a great question to get insight into how much your employees value continuing education, and how they think your company is delivering on this. Top-performing employees are always seeking to better themselves and add to their skill sets. Access to continuing education is vital to recruiting and retaining top talent. If you get feedback that your current employee hasn’t taken advantage of your program, encourage them to do so. This will enable you to train up an efficient and high-performing work field. 

12. What is your favorite part of our company culture? 

According to Betterup.com, “Company culture is the shared values, attitudes, behaviors, and standards that make up a work environment.” In today’s work environment, culture is very important. Even if current employee loves their job, if the culture of the company is too competitive or negative, they are more likely to leave their position. That being said, culture can make up a lot of ground for those in positions they don’t necessarily love. Find out what is working well within your company’s culture and expand upon it. 

13. What would you change about the company culture? 

Hearing the answer to this question may be difficult, but it is vital to understand. Negative culture will always contribute to higher employee churn. Identify issues within the culture early and implement a plan to get rid of that specific issue. This will also help employees feel heard and know that management is willing to take hard feedback and implement change. 

14. Are you happy with the benefits you receive from the company?

As much as we would all like to believe that passion for a job is what matters most, it is simply not true, or even practical. We all have needs in our lives that must be met. Benefits add to employee satisfaction so it is important to find out if your employees are happy with the benefits that they are currently being offered. It is not always practical to offer greater medical benefits or higher pay, but there are many affordable ways to introduce more benefits to your employees. Ask follow-up questions to determine what employee benefits would be appealing to your employees and implement them! 

15. Is there anything that you would like to be doing that you are not currently doing? 

This is a great question to encourage a specific answer from your employee. Talk through what they are wanting to be doing and find a way to give them this responsibility. This is a great way to show that you trust and believe in your employees. Let them know you are listening and want them to be happy. 

Start Scheduling Those Interviews!

Now that you have a list of 15 stay interview questions to ask during a stay interview, start identifying who you want to interview and get scheduling! Remember that listening and asking follow-up questions is extremely important to open up those honest lines of communication. Then commit to enacting change, even if it is tough. Schedule those stay interviews and you will be on your way to identifying issues early in order to drastically reduce your employee turnover in no time!