How to Recruit and Retain Top Talent in 2022 with Stay Interviews

Casey Conway

by Casey Conway

5 min read
How to Recruit and Retain Top Talent in 2022 with Stay Interviews
Managing Teams Guides
Asking current employees the right questions can supercharge your efforts to hire top talent and improve your company’s ongoing work culture.

With the unprecedented competition for talent in 2022, an increasing number of employers are choosing to add stay interviews to their toolbox. Stay interviews are designed to—you guessed it—help you keep your best people on the job. The benefits are twofold, however, because what you learn from conducting a stay interview can enhance both your employee recruitment and employee retention strategies.

How Do Stay Interviews Differ from Other Recruitment and Retention Tools?

Employee engagement surveys assess the connection employees have to your organization by addressing things like company values and communication on a larger scale. Exit interviews help you discover why an employee is leaving and possibly what your competitors have to offer. Stay interviews, on the other hand, provide employees with an opportunity to feel heard and valued as individuals before they choose to leave. And studies have shown that employees who feel their voices are heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work. Feeling heard translates into higher engagement and reduced turnover, so you can see how using a combination of these tools can better serve employees.

When Should You Do Stay Interviews?

Stay interviews should be conducted once or twice per year between performance reviews. This guarantees a scheduled one-on-one touchpoint with each employee, which is particularly important as more people pursue remote jobs.

Who Should Conduct Stay Interviews?

Direct managers are the best individuals to conduct stay interviews. In doing so, they show their employees that company leaders support and value them.

Managers should schedule a one-on-one meeting with employees. In the invitation, specify the purpose of the interview and the questions to expect. Employees deserve time to think through their responses.

How Do You Effectively Interview Current Employees?

Speaking of questions, you can’t jump into a stay interview without a strategy. Your human resources team should train managers on what questions to ask. Managers should also be encouraged to set aside uninterrupted time, listen more than they respond, and take notes. As hard as it may be, you need to prepare managers to hear answers they might not like. Now is the time to leave egos and assumptions at the door so you can find out how employees really feel.

What Questions Should You Ask in a Stay Interview?


Stay interview questions include topics similar to those covered in engagement surveys and exit interviews. The real difference is that the questions should encourage employees to provide details that will help the company improve their work experience.

Questions about the day-to-day aspects of the role:

  • What do you look forward to about your workday?
  • Do you feel challenged in your current role? Why or why not?
  • What kind of work would you like to do more of and why?
  • What kind of work would you like to do less of and why?
  • Do you feel like you understand your goals and objectives in this role, or could they be clearer?

A study by OfficeTeam showed that employees spend 10.5 hours of their workweek bored, and two out of five employees consider boredom a reason to quit. Furthermore, only 60 percent of workers are sure what is expected of them.

Questions about the work culture:

  • Do you feel like part of the team here? If not, is there something you feel I can do to facilitate a more inclusive environment?
  • Do you think our team does a good job of recognizing one another? If not, what could we do better?
  • How do you feel about your current work-life balance?

A recent study published by MIT revealed that a toxic work culture is 10.4 times more powerful than compensation in predicting attrition. If the Great Resignation has taught us anything, it’s that money isn’t everything.

Questions about leadership:

  • As your manager, what can I do to make your experience here better?
  • If you were in my position as manager, what would you do differently?

A 2022 GoodHire survey indicated that 82 percent of American workers would potentially quit their jobs due to a bad manager, so addressing issues with leadership is crucial.

Questions about the future:

  • How do you feel about the growth and development opportunities for you here?
  • Do you see a future for yourself at this company? Why or why not?
  • Would you recommend the company to a friend? Why or why not?
  • How do you feel about the outlook of the company?

Recently, a Pew Research Center survey found that 63 percent of employees cited no opportunities for advancement as their reason for leaving a job. Additionally, a 2021 Glassdoor survey reported that a negative future business outlook causes employees to consider leaving. You need to know how your employees feel about the future—today.

Questions about leaving the company:

  • When was the last time you thought about leaving and what prompted it?
  • Why have you stayed at the company?

Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index survey showed that 43 percent of people will likely consider changing jobs in the next year. These questions may be a little uncomfortable for both managers and employees, but the insight gained from asking them (and being prepared for all answers) can be a game changer.

What Do You Do With Information Gained in Stay Interviews?

After you’ve completed stay interviews, you have to show employees you’ve listened and are taking action. The Heard and the Heard-Nots report by the Workforce Institute at UKG and Workplace Intelligence polled more than 4,000 employees from 11 countries and found that 40 percent of them don’t feel their feedback leads to actionable change.

Your HR team should set aside time to discuss the results with department managers. Look for common themes and use the results of your engagement survey and exit interviews for that particular department as supplemental information.

Pro tip:
Pay close attention to the language your people use when speaking positively during stay interviews. You can use trending keywords to help improve recruitment communications.

Although every employee should be given a stay interview, you know who your best performers are, so factor that in when considering making any changes. Focus your efforts on changes that will have the greatest impact on retaining top talent. For example, if you learn that some of your top performers are pleased overall but see no growth or development opportunities within the company, the manager should circle back to those employees to discuss opportunities for training and promotions. To prevent future problems like this, consider developing career path materials for new hires and managers. Train managers to discuss career paths and additional growth opportunities regularly.

What is the End Game with Stay Interviews?

Using this formula has the potential to impact both retention and recruitment because you have addressed a major issue for your current employees while simultaneously working toward solutions that will impact future employees.

Stay interviews are here to stay (pun intended)—and it’s clear to see why. When conducted effectively and combined with other data, these interviews can play an integral part in your company’s strategic growth and long-term success.


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