Employee retention is crucial for the long-term success of any organization. 

Gallup, the renowned analytics and advisory company, estimates that “replacing an employee costs a business one-half to five times that employee’s annual salary”. And the recently released 2021 Hays salary guide predicts that high employee turnover may soon become an issue for Canadian companies. As reported by Hays, “49% of employees are seriously considering leaving their current role” and “21% of employees are anticipating to change jobs within the next 3 months”. 

One way to decrease employee turnover is by conducting stay interviews with employees you’ve identified as top performers or key individual contributors. Employees who are in line for a promotion are also ideal candidates for stay interviews. 

By interviewing your best current employees, you can learn what your company is doing right in terms of employee engagement and retention—and also identify areas where your company could improve. 

Related Reading: Employee Pulse Surveys: Why They Are Crucial to Your Workplace

As Hays reports, the most common reasons for employees wanting to quit are “expectations about compensation, lack of career growth opportunity and the types of benefits offered”. A stay interview can help you identify if or where your company is falling short when it comes to employee satisfaction. 

Continue reading to learn the right way to conduct a stay interview and some of the best stay interview questions to ask, including which question is the most important. 

What is a stay interview? 

Sometimes referred to as reverse performance reviews, stay interviews invite the employee to evaluate your performance as an organization. The purpose of a stay interview is to reduce the chances of your best employees leaving. 

Rather than asking “What made you quit?” at an exit interview, a stay interview gives you the opportunity to uncover potential issues while the employee is still in your employ. 

Related Reading: Employee Offboarding: The Best Exit Interview Questions to Ask

Stay interviews are best done one-on-one, between the employee and their manager (or a representative from HR). It’s important to make the employee comfortable and invite as much critical feedback as possible. The goal is for the employee to answer your stay interview questions with thoughtfulness and honesty. 

Engage with the employee and ask clarifying or follow-up questions rather than just recording their answers. By doing so, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the employee’s thinking process and learn valuable insights into what you can do to improve your retention rates. 

The most important thing to remember is that a stay interview is meant to be a conversation, not an interrogation. 

Stay interview questions for new employees

The purpose of a stay interview is to uncover chronic pain points within your organization, which is the kind of insight that new hires might not have. That said, if the role was particularly difficult to fill or is in high demand, you can ask new hires the same or similar stay interview questions as below: 

  • Has your perception of the company changed since you interviewed for the job? 
  • If your perception has changed, in what way has it changed?
  • What made you accept our job offer? 
  • What is the one thing that would make you look for another job? 
  • Is there anything you’d recommend that we change in our onboarding process? 

The best stay interview questions

The best stay interview questions are the ones that uncover the information you need. We’ve rounded up some of the most typical questions for stay interviews, but we encourage you to adapt them as needed and to foster a dialogue between you and the employee you’re interviewing. 

Related Reading: Decreasing Employee Turnover by Conducting Stay Interviews

The most important question to ask in a stay interview is: What would make you start searching for a new job? 

The answer can help you plan for the future. For example, if the employee answers “not having a lot of work from home flexibility”, you can use this information to help support and prioritize your remote work initiatives. 

Here are some other stay interview questions: 

  • Do you feel you receive enough feedback about your work? 
  • What do you think is the main reason people choose to leave our organization? 
  • What kind of flexibility would you want us to offer you? 
  • Do you feel our company culture has changed since you joined? 
  • What do you enjoy doing the most in your day-to-day? How about the least? 
  • What motivates you at work? What demotivates you?
  • If you could change one aspect of your job, what would you change?
  • Do you feel supported in your career goals? 
  • If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do with your time? 
  • Is there anything you’d change about your work or your responsibilities?
  • What would you say are our priorities as an organization? 
  • Is there anything else you’d like to bring up?


Enjoyed this article on the best stay interview questions to ask your employees? Share it with your network or others in your organization to help others improve their retention rates too. 

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