How to Conduct a Stay Interview
August 13, 2018

In “Try the Stay Interview“, I share an overview of one of my favorite talent retention tools. In this post, it’s time to take a deeper dive into the mechanics of a successful stay interview.

Individualize the Conversation with Each Person

To begin an authentic conversation, focus on the unique personalities, skills and experiences of each individual on your team. Ask motivational questions like “what inspires you?” and “tell me why you do what you do?” as icebreakers to learn more about your employees. You can then move into more job-related questions like:

  • What motivates you to stay with the organization?
  • Why do you want to succeed in your role?
  • Which aspects of our culture work for you? Which do not?
  • If you were your own manager, how would you manage yourself?
  • How can I help you have a more rewarding experience each day?

Show your people that you are truly interested in what they have to say through your genuine tone and open, relaxed body language. While listening to their thoughts, try not to get defensive or the sharing will stop. Thank them for their candid responses particularly when comments relate to your management style. Remember- feedback is a gift.

Act on the Feedback Received

Failure to act on the feedback in a timely manner will destroy your ability to be seen as credible and quickly thwart your efforts to acquire rich information. Based on the constructive criticism you receive, let the individual know what you have the ability to change, who you’ll need to collaborate with and what you are not able to effect. Provide a realistic time-frame for discussions with partners and ask for your employees’ patience while you work to enhance their experience with your organization. If the major piece of feedback is around how you manage this person, start with small changes and check in to see how you’re doing. Your small efforts will be appreciated and will demonstrate your willingness to learn and grow as a leader.

Continue the Conversation at Regular Intervals

Your first exchange may be a little challenging if your people don’t feel comfortable opening up to you. Stick with it and check in with your employees periodically to show that you are committed to understanding what’s keeping them at your organization. Following through on the commitments you make during initial and subsequent discussion will demonstrate that you want to hear from your team. At minimum, these check-ins are most effective when conducted quarterly and organizations with high employee engagement make stay interviews part of monthly performance feedback discussions.

Practice these techniques to gain greater insights into what motivates your employees, and keeps them feeling challenged and fulfilled in your organization

Leesa Schipani

Leesa Schipani


With 20+ years HR experience, her focus includes HR strategy, talent management, and customer & employee experience. Leesa has advanced HR certifications: SPHR, SHRM-SCP.


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