Talent Management

Stay Interviews: 20 Possible Questions You Should Consider Asking

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Second of three parts

Note: Part 1 of this series was The Many Benefits That Come From “Stay” Interviews

There is no required standard set of questions that must be used in stay interviews.

Ideally however, you want to limit the number of questions that you select so that you finish the interview within one hour. I have broken the type of questions to select from into four different categories.

A) Introductory questions

1. Approaching the employee – Approach the targeted employee during a lull period and use an introductory statement something along this line. “I want you to know that both I and the firm appreciate your commitment to the firm and the great work that you have been doing.

If you have a few minutes, I would like to have an informal conversation with you to ensure that we fully understand the factors that make you loyal and that keep you here, and any possible actions that we can take to bolster your job experience and to keep you happy.”=

2. Starting the interview – Start the interview with a simple introductory statement like the following. “Thanks for taking the time to have this discussion. As one of our key employees, I want to informally pose some simple questions that can help me to understand the factors that cause you to enjoy and stay in your current role.

During the interview I will also use a series of questions in order to identify any factor that could possibly frustrate you to the point where you might even begin to consider other job opportunities.”

B) Identify factors that make the employee want to stay

3. Positive stay factors – Tell me specifically, what factors cause you to enjoy your current job and work situation (including people, job, rewards, job content, coworkers, management etc.), and as a result, they contribute to your staying at our firm as long as you have? Help us identify the factors that make you more passionate, committed, and loyal to your team and the firm.

4. Reasons you give to others – If you have ever been asked by a close friend or have been contacted by an external recruiter, can you tell me what reasons you gave them for wanting to stay at our firm?

5. “Best work of your life” factors – Do you feel that you are currently doing “the best work of your life?” Can you list for me the factors that could contribute to you” doing the best for your life?” (Note: this is the No. 1 key retention factor for top performers)

6. “Job impact” factors – Do you feel that your work makes a difference in the company and that externally it has a noticeable impact on customers and the world? Do you also feel that your coworkers think that you make a difference? (Note: this is the No.2 key retention factor for top performers.)

7. Fully used factors – Do you feel “fully utilized” in your current role? If so, can you identify the factors that make you feel fully utilized? Are there additional things that we can do to more fully take advantage of your talents and interests?

8. Are you listened to and valued – Do your colleagues and teammates listen to you and do they value your ideas, inputs, and decisions? How can that area be improved?

C) Identify actions that might increase loyalty and commitment 

9. Better managed – If you “managed yourself,” what would you do differently (in relation to managing “you”), that I, as your current manager, don’t currently do?

10. More positive elements and fewer less desirable ones – Can you make a list of the elements or motivation factors in your current role that you like best and that you would like “more of? What factors would you miss most if you transferred you to a completely different job? What things do you really miss from your last job at the firm?

Can you also make a list of the less-desirable elements or frustrations in your current role that you would like to do “less of?” Are there any frustration factors that keep you up at night, that enter your mind while driving to work, or that cause you to dread having to come to work at all?

11. Dream job – If you were given the opportunity to redesign your current role, can you make a list of the key factors that you would include in your “dream job?”

12. Where would you like to be – Can you help us understand your career progression expectations and let us know where you would like to be in the organization two years from now?

13. Challenge factors – Can you list for us the most challenging but exciting aspects of your current job situation? Are there actions that we can take to further challenge you?

14. Recognition – Can you highlight any recent recognition and acknowledgment that you have received that increased your commitment and loyalty? Are there actions that we can take to further recognize you?

15. Exposure – Can you highlight the recent exposure to executives and decision makers that you have experienced? And are there ways that we could increase or improve that exposure?

 16. Learning, growth, and leadership – Can you highlight for me your positive experiences in the area of learning, development, and growth? And are there ways where we could increase that growth? The employee should also be asked if they desire to move into a leadership role, and if so, what are their expectations, their timetable, and their concerns?

D) Identify “triggers” that may cause employees to leave

Triggers are occurrences or events that driver loyal employees to at least begin considering looking for new job.

17. Identify possible retention triggers – If you were to ever begin to consider leaving … help me understand what kind of “triggers” or negative factors that might cause you to consider leaving? Please include both job and company trigger factors.

18. Recent frustrations – Think back to a time in the last 12 months when you have been at least slightly frustrated or anxious about your current role. Can you list for me the frustration factor or factors that most contributed to that anxiety? Can you also help me understand what eventually happened to lower that frustration level?

19. Others made you think – If you’ve had conversations with other employees who have considered leaving or who have actually left our firm, did any of the reasons that they provided for leaving cause you to at least partially nod in agreement? If so, can you list those factors and tell me why they seemed to be at least partially justifiable as a reason for leaving to you?

20. Past triggers – What are the prime factors that caused you to leave your last two jobs? Are there factors from your previous jobs that you hope you will never have to experience again at our firm?

Tomorrow: 4 Stay interview Formats You Really Should Consider

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations. He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of Talent Management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations / organizations in 30 countries on all 6 continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR and the Financial Times. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring”, Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics” and SHRM called him “One of the industries most respected strategists”. He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked #8 among the top 25 online influencers in Talent Management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ERE.Net. He lives in Pacifica, California.