What Are Stay Interviews? Questions, Tips, & More For Today’s People Leaders

Posted by Trakstar • February 7, 2023 • 6 min read

Stay interviews are a controversial topic for many. Some people love them, and some people hate them. There are good reasons for both sides of the argument, but hiring costs a lot, so more people are thinking about them. Most often, putting in the extra effort and encouraging someone to stay might be your best bet.
No matter how you’ve felt about them in the past, they’re an essential tool in your talent management and retention plan. If you’ve run them before, you might wonder why they aren’t working.

What Are Stay Interviews?

If your first question is, “What is a stay interview?” You aren’t alone! Many organizations don’t use the stay interview as a retention strategy. A stay interview is when someone within your organization, likely someone in HR or a manager, sits down with an employee they fear may be a flight risk. They ask questions about things employees value in their jobs, what could make them stay, what would make them leave, and what the worker believes could be improved.

Think of a stay interview as an exit interview, but it is done with someone who may only be at risk of leaving. It’s important to note that stay interviews work best if they happen before someone expresses a desire to leave. Once they’ve vocalized their intentions, it is harder to change their mind. Even if you aren’t able to change minds (or you didn’t have to change their minds in the first place), stay interviews can help you:

  • Increase communication and trust between C-Suites, managers, and employees
  • Get a pulse of specific departments or performers in your organization
  • Provide an understanding of what motivates employees
  • Determine any changes you need to make to improve employee happiness
  • Gain an understanding of individual employees and how they think
  • Find out if there are organization-wide issues that need to be addressed
  • Engage with employees

The results of these questions can help form your talent development and management plans, determine succession pathways, or even make staffing decisions. However, you need to do more than have stay interviews. You must follow stay interview best practices, ask better stay interview questions, and utilize a stay interview toolkit.

Rocket divider

Stay Interview Best Practices

Conducting stay interviews is a sensitive thing. To be successful, you need to have a stay interview action plan template that you follow each time. When you first start, you may make some mistakes or have some things that don’t work as well. That’s okay! Learning and growing within your role is essential. Start with employees who aren’t at immediate risk of leaving and then work from there. Once you have your stay interview template figured out, then you can move to at-risk employees.

In general, you want to follow these best practices:

  • Pick a group of people to conduct stay interviews with and do them around the same time.
    • This will allow you to collect information and measure the impact of your actions.
  • Ensure that your employees know they have a stay interview. Tell them that they are not in trouble, nor is there a reason to be concerned.
    • During the interview, be aware that some people will still have anxiety. Try to quell those fears by being friendly, offering coffee, or keeping things casual.
  • Stay interviews should be between 15-45 minutes.
  • It’s okay to have a conversation if someone feels uncomfortable or uneasy. 
  • Do not combine stay interviews with something like a performance review or during promotions.
  • Use this as a time to praise your employee on their work.


When should you run a stay interview? It is best if they happen before someone is getting ready to leave the organization. Once a new employee has settled into their job, the 90-day review is a great time to work on some stay interview questions. This can help with turnover as new employees are the most likely to leave. It can also help to correct the course of your employee if they are going to be at risk before your next review, which often happens at six months or a year.

After that, you want to work questions into every conversation you have. Maybe you do annual reviews. Ask questions about issues, motivations, or concerns they have. Deal with them as soon as you can. If you hold manager 1:1s every week, ask a new question every time to keep your finger on the pulse. 

You can also have stay interviews as needed. If you notice that someone is particularly disengaged, reach out to them and have a quick stay interview.

Stay Interviews: Questions To Ask

When we talk about stay interviews, there’s a lot of focus on stay interview questions and answers, but we encourage you to focus less on those questions and answers and more on just doing the interview. Showing that you have an appreciation for what someone else is going through is important.

Your first questions should always be pretty basic:

  1. How are you feeling?
  2. Are you being fully utilized on your team? In the organization?
  3. What would make your job more satisfying?
  4. How can you be better supported?
  5. Are you recognized for your input?

But what if you want to be a little different?

Unique Stay Interview Questions

The problem with unique stay interview questions is that you have to be careful in how you word them. 

Some unique questions might be:

  1. What makes you want to come to work every day?
  2. Who makes you want to come to work?
  3. What makes you a better employee?
  4. Who challenges you?
  5. What do you dread about work?
  6. If something were to make you leave, what would it be?
  7. Have you thought about your future with our company?
  8. Would you recommend our company to friends?
  9. What part of your job do you love?
  10. What part of your job do you hate?
  11. Where would you like to grow?
  12. Do you feel we are setting clear goals for you?
  13. Do you have “enough” to do your job?
  14. What software do you think we need?
  15. What software should we eliminate?

SHRM is a great source of unique stay interview questions as well.

Rocket divider

Stay Interview Alternatives

Not interested in stay interviews, or are your stay interviews not working? We have some alternatives! Running a pulse survey or an engagement survey can help you poll your workforce. 

Using Trakstar Perform, you can send out engagement surveys automatically to your entire workforce, specific departments, and even select employees. To find out more, schedule a demo today.

Ready for Action? Take Off With Trakstar

How engaged are your employees really? Suppose you want to regularly check the pulse of your workforce and get actionable data and feedback from them. In that case, Trakstar Perform is one of the best ways to make stay interviews and engagement part of your retention strategy. With Trakstar, you can routinely ask important questions and find out what’s going on in your workforce.

Trakstar was purpose-built to enable HR leaders, managers, trainers, and the C-Suite to have better interactions with their employees regarding performance, training, recruiting, hiring, and engagement.

To invest in your HR department, your employees, and your organization, click here to schedule a demo of Trakstar.

Don't Miss Out on More Great HR Articles!

Subscribe to get the latest, greatest HR and Talent Development content straight to your inbox.