Get proactive with ‘The STAY Interview’

This is a concept we’ve come across recently and like most of the best ideas it’s a simple one, and you’ll probably think, why haven’t we done that before?

Companies are beginning to take a more proactive approach with their internal HR practices, by building a ‘STAY’ interview into their processes rather than waiting for the infamous EXIT interview. The exit interview is simply too late in the day, usually unproductive and sometimes they don’t even occur!

More often than not the EXIT interview is seen as simply a paperwork exercise, as employees departing don’t really say how they feel for fear of offending, or for fear of ‘closing the door’. They don’t want to burn their bridges and are keen to leave a positive impression, especially in today’s world of social networking! and so avoid saying anything too controversial.

In contrast, the STAY interview is a positive, proactive exercise and one that should send the message – we value you and your opinions, and we want you to stay.
As almost anyone recruiting right now knows, there is currently a shortage of candidates with solid skill sets and experience.

So – do what you can to keep your best staff and work a STAY interview into your talent retention strategy :0)


Here are a few tips on how to set up a STAY interview and some example questions, we’ve even got a document for you  The-stay-interview-question-examples, courtesy of

A word of caution, Stay interviews are only successful when employees are happy to be open, honest and transparent. The whole concept is based on an honest two-way conversation between manager and employee, where each side gets to listen, ask questions, and both agree to follow up on ideas and action plans.

“HR director, Melanie Williams, says, “the information collected by stay interviews is more actionable than secondary source information because it’s specific and forward-facing.” (source:

The top 5 Questions

Here’s what to do: Make stay interviews questions simple and informal when meeting with direct reports one-on-one. Here are five “must asks” to ensure winning back unhappy employees who are key to your operation’s success.

1. “What do you like about your job?”

This question sets a positive tone to assess their work satisfaction and helps a manager clue into what parts of the job employees like and want to experience more of.

2. “Could you describe a good day of work you had recently?”

Tap into their memories to extract clear and specific examples of positive experiences they’ve had. Leaders should be asking this question to learn everything they can about replicating the experience so that every day looks more like it.

3. “Do you feel your skills are being utilised to the fullest?”

Best case scenario here is discovering that the employee has skills the company or leader never knew about, which is a win-win: The employee wins by using personal strengths that raise personal motivation and engagement; the leader wins by offering new opportunities to tap into those strengths, which releases discretionary effort that will benefit the company, project, or team.

4. “Do you feel you get properly recognised for doing good work?”

A leader will gauge frustration levels by courageously asking this question and openly accepting the response and, if it’s negative, brainstorming solutions together. As Gallup has observed in its extensive research, praise and recognition for accomplishments have been repeatedly linked to higher employee retention. How regularly are we talking? Praise should be given once per week.

5. “Do you feel like you are treated with respect?”

Leaders should ask this question to determine the health of the team. Is there blame travelling in different directions, and are people pointing fingers at each other? Are there silos, heavy politics, stonewalling, or people being thrown under the bus? These toxic behaviours suggest a total lack of mutual respect as a cultural trait. Studies show respect is a key driver in overall employee engagement, and its absence as a contributor to employees leaving.   ” Source:

Use these sample stay interview questions to train your managers and to conduct your own stay interviews, adapting them where necessary to identify what will retain your most contributing and valued current employees.

If these aren’t enough we’ve gathered some more The-stay-interview-question-examples to get you started, courtesy of,  download a pdf version.

Related Dovetail articles:
What’s your company culture and what does it look like?
The Art of onboarding
Tackling the gender pay Gap
Mind the gap in gender pay
The Taylor Review – a Summary
Do you have a talent strategy

Thank you to our sources: 
HR Zone,, Image Credit to Mark Duffell from

Explore more from our blog here...