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What is a stay interview? And how can it help you speak your mind?

What is a stay interview? And how can it help you speak your mind?

Artwork by: Antonina Kasyanikova

  • What is a stay interview?
  • What is the goal of stay interviews?
  • Is a stay interview a good thing?
  • What’s discussed in a stay interview?
  • Should I be honest in a stay interview?
  • What should I expect after my stay interview?
  • Key takeaways

Did management ask you to take part in a stay interview? Here’s what you need to know about it and how it can be a great opportunity to describe your current job satisfaction.

Most people have heard of and even participated in a standard job interview or an exit interview, but a stay interview isn’t as well known because it’s a less common practice. Considering the benefits it brings, perhaps more companies should be conducting stay interviews for their current staff. 

In this article we’ll discuss:

  • How a stay interview is different from an exit interview and a performance review

  • What to expect from a stay interview

  • Why management conducts stay interviews and what they hope to gain from them

What is a stay interview?

A stay interview is a process in which an employer engages in a conversation with an employee to understand their level of job satisfaction, identify factors that contribute to their engagement and commitment to the organization, and determine actions that can be taken to retain the employee. Similar in theory to a performance review, a stay interview is intended to give employees the space to share their experience. In performance reviews, the focus is on an employee’s performance. In stay interviews, the focus is on the employee’s overall satisfaction with the job. 

The information that’s gathered during an exit interview is crucial. Often, the feedback given to employers during this interview is some of the most honest insight they’ll receive into what it’s like to work for them. The downside to exit interviews is that they learn about their areas of improvement when it’s too late because they’re already losing an employee. A good employer would prefer to retain staff and meet the staff’s needs while they’re still employed. This is why the stay interview was created.

What is the goal of stay interviews?

Stay interviews serve as a tool for driving employee retention. A high turnover rate is a huge red flag for a company. Plus, hiring and training new employees is very time consuming. A lot of companies are starting to realize that it’s more cost effective to just make improvements to the work environment, expectations, and systems for communication and management. During a stay interview, you will be asked to share your experience in any of those categories. 

Is a stay interview a good thing?

If your employer conducts a stay interview, congratulations, you work for someone who understands that business success is linked to employee success. Stay interviews show the employer values the opinions of staff and is interested in creating a trusting work environment. It also shows that managers understand they don’t see everything and can’t know what’s really happening in the workplace unless they ask. 

As an employee, being asked to perform a stay interview indicates that you are a top performer and staff want to recognize that. They are telling you that they want to do what they can to hold on to you as an employee. 

That being said, there might be some uncomfortable moments during your stay interview. When discussing colleagues or communication styles, the conversation might feel a little bit tense. But work through it, the responsibility to respond well to feedback is on the employer.

What’s discussed in a stay interview?

The most common topics covered during a stay interview relate to the effectiveness of the company’s existing systems, communication, management styles, and personnel. 

You will probably be asked about these things in a conversational tone. Expect questions like this: What do you like about coming to work everyday? What is your least favorite part of your work day? How could your work-life balance improve? How do you feel about the way you receive directives? How can your experience working here be improved?

Should I be honest in a stay interview?

It might seem like a trap, but yes, you should be honest in a stay interview. A good employer will want to implement changes to best support the issues you reveal. 

What should I expect after my stay interview?

Ideally, your management team has a plan prepared for implementing the feedback you gave. It isn’t likely that every suggestion you made will come to fruition, so prepare yourself for that. But you can expect to hear updates from management as they move through their implementation action plan. You can also ask at the end of your stay interview what to expect moving forward. 

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Key takeaways

  1. If you have been asked to perform a stay interview, know that you are seen as a valuable team member, and management cares about your satisfaction.

  2. Stay interviews should generally be considered a good thing because they demonstrate that management cares about staff experiences in the workplace.

  3. After your stay interview, you may begin to see company-wide changes. 

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