You already know how important the interview process is. This is your opportunity to identify star employees that will positively contribute to your current projects and the future of your company. But what about after you’ve hired these star employees? How can you make sure that they stick around and don’t leave as soon as another opportunity arises? 

This is why stay interviews are so important. 

A stay interview is one that’s conducted intermittently during an employee’s tenure. It’s sort of like a reverse performance report—it’s a chance for you to receive feedback from your team, and to hear about their priorities, recommendations, and grievances. 

You’ll obviously want to tailor the questions based on your own company and the individual employees. That said, these are the four big questions you don’t want to forget. 

Question #1: What do you love about your job? 

It’s best to start off on a good note—but this seemingly simple question can also be very revealing. If an employee tells you that their favorite thing is the free coffee, then there probably isn’t a whole lot that’s keeping them from looking for another position. 

Question #2: What would you change about your job? 

This is another question that is more insightful than it may appear. You’ll be able to determine if an employee is fundamentally unhappy with their position—in which case, there may be nothing that you can do—or if there are simple changes that can greatly increase their quality of (work)life. 

Question #3: Where do you want to be in one, three, five years? 

Here’s where you can take an active role in an employee’s career. Look for ways that you can help them shape and actualize their dream job. By helping someone evolve their current position, you will decrease the likelihood that they’ll move on in order to pursue new opportunities. 

Question #4: What could help you do your job better?

The most important part of this question (as well as the earlier questions) is that you listen to what your employees have to say. There are some things that will be in your control, and some things that won’t be. It’s important that you take action where you are able to (otherwise you’re all talk and will quickly lose credibility), and, when you aren’t able to, actively brainstorm with your employees to address their challenges.  

Tailor the Interview to the Employee

Every company is different, and so is every employee. Use your judgement to determine the best way to conduct your stay interviews. 

One big question is how often to have these conversations, and with which employees. This really depends on the size of your team. A good rule of thumb is to hold stay interviews—at least with star employees—as often as you have performance reviews. 

You may find that it’s best to schedule the conversations ahead of time, and give your employees a sense of the questions you’ll be asking. This way they have time to give a lot of thought to their answers. Alternatively, it can sometimes be helpful to take away this preparation time, and just get off-the-cuff responses. 

Try out a few different options to determine what works best for your team. You’ll be thankful that you did! 


Photo by Johanna Buguet on Unsplash