March 10, 2023
7 min read

12 Best Stay Interview Questions to Keep Your Top Performers

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The overall cost of voluntary employee turnover reached over $1 trillion in 2022. Great stay interview questions can keep great employees from seeking a new job. They’re an excellent method for using employee feedback to improve your operations. 

By the end of this article, you’ll know how these interviews help you prevent your best employees from quitting and you’ll have a solid stay interview program you can put to work immediately.

What is a stay interview?

A conversation between a manager and an employee focuses on learning what makes the employee stay at the company.

With the right questions, you’ll be able to access actionable feedback that will help prevent the employee turnover rate from rising.

Stay interview vs exit interview

These two types of interviews are similar in structure but different in motive. Both gather data critical for assessing employer brand image. 

The difference is this – exit interviews focus on damage control by interviewing employees leaving the company. In contrast, stay interviews focus on unearthing both pain points and why employees stay with you.

With the basics covered, let’s see why a stay interview is critical for your organization.

Benefits of stay interviews

Stay interviews help you learn how your high-performing employees feel about their current position, working environment, and the company culture. You can act proactively and meet their needs by understanding how they feel. Also, it’s much cheaper than recruiting.

Read on to learn why you should conduct stay interviews.

Employee satisfaction & engagement

When you conduct, properly analyze, and act on the results from a stay interview, the interviewed employees will have a greater sense of belonging because they’ll feel heard. Such employees are significantly more engaged than the ones feeling like cogs in a machine.
According to a study by Gallup, increased employee engagement leads to:

  • 18% rise in productivity
  • 23% rise in profitability
  • 81% drop in absenteeism
  • 18-43% drop in turnover

Better staff retention rate

Since these surveys can help you tap into employee morale, they’re an excellent preventive measure for any problems employees might have at the workplace.

According to one research, a company showing care and concern for its employees is the top predictor of employee retention. 

Valuable employee feedback 

If you have more perspectives on how the company can improve, you’re bound to find great ideas that can push productivity forward. Existing employees are a great source of that.

How to conduct stay interviews

Now that you know why stay interviews are essential for keeping top employees, you should learn to conduct them effectively.

Focus on your top performers

You can start small on your high performers first. They can get the hang of company culture and dynamics between team members and departments.

Make it regular

The ideal time frame is annual. That way, employees will give informed answers, improving the data around which you can build your staff retention strategy.

You should carry out additional stay interviews in case of major changes on an organizational level, such as a change in ownership, leadership, a merger or an acquisition of another organization.

You mustn’t incorporate stay interviews into the annual review because it might skew the results due to employees being overwhelmed with two vastly different evaluation processes.

Think about who’ll conduct it and when

Direct managers should lead the talks because they can ask more job-specific questions and understand the answers. Also, it’s an ideal opportunity for them to build rapport with colleagues and increase mutual trust. 

Schedule all stay interviews as close to each other as possible and not more than a few weeks apart to ensure a higher level of uniformity of responses. Conditions in the company might change if you take longer, which may leave you with irrelevant data.

Depending on your organization's size, it can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. A longer stay interview can affect the employees’ concentration, and a shorter one can adversely affect how employees feel about the whole process.

Encourage open and honest feedback

As an interviewer, you should limit your talking time to asking questions and expanding on the feedback you get, which shouldn’t exceed 20% of the interview.

Take notes so the interviewee can see that their input is taken seriously. Also, assure them that the entire interview is confidential. That way, you’ll encourage employees to leave open and honest feedback.

Analyze data & prepare an action plan

Gather all the data in one place and analyze it to find common grievances you can prioritize in your action plan. Acting on employee responses is crucial for its success. Otherwise, the next time you chat with a top performer, it might be during an exit survey. 

Stay interview questions to improve employee retention

Before making a list of questions, you should ask yourself why people are quitting their jobs in the first place. 

Here are the five most common reasons people quit their jobs according to Zenfit:

  1. Better pay or benefits
  2. Better professional challenges 
  3. Conflicts at the workplace
  4. Unhealthy work-life balance

Group questions into categories to make it easier to analyze the data.

Damage-prevention questions

1.What do you love about working here?

It’s good to start the interview positively and learn what you are doing well as an employer so you can do more of it.

2. What would make you quit your job?

When you know what could make employees leave, you can be proactive and prevent the situations they explain as deal-breakers.

3. What improvements you’d like to see from our end?

Asking the employees what they think could be better at the company is a chance to give them a sense of ownership and may lead to increased engagement. 

4. How do you feel about your remuneration and benefits?

According to a study, 37% of workers quitting their job in 2021 cited low pay as the main reason. Best if you ask your top performers if they think so too.

5. How do you feel about your career growth opportunities?

The same study by the PEW Research Center showed that 33% of the workforce quit their jobs because of lacking advancement opportunities. Even if you have clearly outlined the career path for your employees and provided ample professional development opportunities, it’s still advisable to ask for their perspectives.

Work-life balance questions

Workers whose financial and career needs are met can still be unhappy. They might be overworked or feel the job impairs their home life. Luckily, these questions will uncover potential grievances relevant to that matter.

6. How satisfied are you with the company's childcare policies?

81% of employees consider childcare benefits critical for choosing their dream job, so double-check what your top performers think of your childcare program.

7. How do you feel about the workplace flexibility the company offers?

According to one study, 64% of the surveyed workers were ready to leave their current job if it mandated office work. The same survey showed that 68-74% of workers would like more flexible working hours.

These topics are essential to modern employees and you best know how your employees feel about them.

8. How do you feel about the amount of workload you have?

If the answer is negative, ask the employees to describe a situation when their workload was excessive. You should detect employees experiencing burnout and prevent it.

Company culture questions

Answers to these questions will help you understand:

  • The state of your employer brand
  • Potential communication roadblocks within the workforce
  • The level of autonomy your employees have

9. How do you feel about the level of trust and collaboration and where do you see room for improvement?

If your company nurtures a collaborative culture within the workforce, answers to this question will let you know how well you’re doing in that respect. Uncovering communication roadblocks can pinpoint what department or team member might need retraining or what policies need strengthening.

10. How do you feel about the level of diversity and inclusivity within the company and where do you see room for improvement?

72-86% of workers want to work at a company that values diversity and inclusion. Furthermore, this question is important because diversity and inclusion are a big part of how potential new employees view your company.

11. How do you feel about your level of autonomy and what can we improve in that regard?

A lack of autonomy can be a sign of micromanagement at the company. As micromanagement is one of the three frequent reasons people quit, you best detect it before it’s too late.

12. To what extent does the company recognize your work?

People thrive on recognition. It is one of the key drivers of worker engagement, which is also one of the critical drivers of greater staff retention.


Since resignation rates are at a historic high, every company would like to conduct as few exit surveys as possible. A well-planned stay interview strategy can gauge employee satisfaction perfectly and keep turnaround rates at a minimum. Use our template to stay ahead of the curb.

FAQs: Stay interview questions in 2023

What questions are asked in a stay interview?

Questions that the interviewer will ask during this interview aim to get the answers that uncover what motivates staff to stay or leave the company. Common interview questions to ask are: 

  • What do you enjoy most about working here?
  • What would make you go to another company?

Is a stay interview a good thing?

It is. It helps you determine why top-performing employees stay at your company. It’s also an excellent method to prevent employee turnover by detecting issues in time and mitigating their consequences.

How do you handle a stay interview?

You plan it well, conduct it regularly, interview only the high-performing workers, ask open-ended questions (they keep employees engaged), analyze the data, and, most importantly, act on the results.

Why are stay interviews better than exit interviews?

Stay interviews are better because they act as a prevention, not a backtracking method of detecting problems. Gathering direct reports from employees allows you to increase their satisfaction.

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