How to Nail a “Stay Interview”

With a large number of employees changing careers, employers are scrambling to find ways to cope. Some solutions they’ve kicked around are signing bonuses, lowering qualifications, inviting former employees to return, and devising a better understanding of the reasons that make people want to stay.

Today, I’m talking about the latter – the stay interview, which is not only beneficial to your employer; it’s a chance for you to voice your wants and needs.

What to Expect from a Stay Interview

Generally, stay interviews are meant to be informal and conversational. A skilled manager will show vulnerability and a genuine interest in knowing what you enjoy about your work – and what could be better. In this case, the manager is looking for a two-way dialog. He or she is probably not coming with a long list of specific questions to drive the exchange. Additionally, this is not a performance review or a time for status updates. It is a conversation focused on why you like your job and what you’d like to see improved.

How You Can Benefit from a Stay Interview

If your employer is conducting a stay interview with you, it’s most likely because they’re experiencing attrition and want to put a plug in it. You can leverage this to your advantage by preparing ahead of time. Things to think about:

  • Communication: How is the flow of communication? Are you happy with the level of transparency? Do you feel comfortable sharing your concerns with your boss?
  • Career Growth: Do you have a clear professional development path? Do you understand what you need to do to obtain new titles and raises? Is coaching and mentoring available?
  • Flexibility: Do you have the right level of flexibility in your job? Can you take off when your kid is sick? Can you work from home? Is that important to you?
  • Responsibility: Do you feel the company is adequately utilizing your strengths? What areas of your job would you like to focus on more? Or less?

Create a list of things that are going well and things that could be better. For the most critical items, you might even offer the option of further discussion to help implement positive change. Be polite and respectful, but use this as an opportunity to enhance your workplace happiness and wellbeing. It’s your supervisor’s job to convey your feedback to the larger organization and implement positive change where possible.

How to Request a Stay Interview

If your employer doesn’t offer stay interviews and you’re feeling brave, you can request one on your own. You might say something like, “I’ve seen other employers conducting stay interviews to help employees drive positive change in their organizations. How could we implement that idea here? I would love to share some ideas.” Keep in mind you might be met with resistance, but if things aren’t great at your workplace, this is one avenue to facilitate improvements.


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