Stay Interviews and Exit Interviews: Know Before They Go

ExitInterview.BLOGGetting honest employee feedback about your organization can be difficult. Many organizations fail to foster a receptive culture that allows employees to talk freely and openly about their problems with work. Even when organizations encourage that type of conversation, leadership doesn’t always act on the information. All too often, key talent becomes frustrated and walks out your front door for a more promising opportunity. 

What if you were able to identify problems before they cost you valuable talent? You can. It starts with talking to your employees and encouraging honest feedback about company culture and work-related problems. This conversation often comes in the form of a stay interview.

Stay interviews occur before employees even consider leaving the organization. They focus on why employees continue to work for you so the organization can reinforce those factors. The best practice is to conduct stay interviews periodically with key employees. Stay interviews do not need to be conducted with all employees: most organizations are only interested in what makes their top performers stay. 

Questions should focus on factors that drive employees to stay and on those that lead them to consider leaving. Managers will use the information gleaned to engage and develop employees and to help retain key talent. Keep in mind that employees may identify different things that motivate them. Managers can then share the data they collect with HR, which can add it to the data it collects from other sources—employee opinion surveys, for example—and create an overall picture of what really helps with employee engagement.   

Unfortunately, not all key talent will stay with your organization, which brings us to the exit interview, where HR (not the employee’s manager) asks the departing employee what led him or her to decide to leave. These interviews can be a valuable opportunity for information-gathering.   

So which interview is best? Each has a role in your organization. Only the stay interview allows the organization to identify and address potential problems before a key employee decides to quit. However, employees may be more open and honest in an exit interview. 

Which type of interview is right for you? Base your decision on your culture and commitment to acting on the data. Both types of interview can be impactful and yield valuable insights regarding the perspectives of key employees.