Whatever happened to Lisa Loeb? Yeah, I don’t care either….

“You say I only hear what I want to”

– Lisa Loeb, Stay (I Missed You)

Question for you: Do you do “Stay Interviews?” If you aren’t in HR (and maybe if you are), you may not know what I am talking about, so let me explain.

You’ve heard of Exit Interviews, right? Those moments right before someone leaves when HR sits down with a soon to be former employee and asks for feedback. They are a valuable tool, and can provide you a good deal of information, but the problem I have with them is simple – they happen when the person is leaving; often just moments before they exit the building. I will be the first to admit that I have conducted an exit interview or two with a tinge of glee, but I have also done plenty that I wish I hadn’t had to do. And therein lies the rub: in the case of good employees at least, Exit Interviews are too late.

Enter the Stay Interview.

As the name implies, a Stay Interview is conducted while someone is still with you. Ideally, someone that you would like to stay with your organization.

The nice thing about Stay Interviews is that not only are they great for gathering feedback, but they also send a clear message to the person you are sitting with, specifically: “I want you to stay. That is why I am having a Stay Interview with you.” Work with me here, this ain’t rocket science.

I have done Stay Interviews myself, and there is some merit to that since I can control the message and maintain a level of consistency. But as I think on them I am coming to the realization that they really should come from the employee’s immediate supervisor or their supervisor. I believe this because let’s be real here – no one really cares if HR wants you to stay or not. The person they care about wanting them to say is their BOSS.

So, how to conduct a Stay Interview?

I don’t know that there is a true formula, other than the 80-20 rule: they do at least 80% of the talking and you keep your mouth shut and listen. Other than that, think about what you are looking to accomplish. A few questions I like:

  • What do you like most about your job? What could you do without?
  • If you had a crystal ball, what would have been helpful to know before you started with us?
  • Since starting, what has surprised you the most about our culture?
  • How do you like to be recognized for a job well done?
  • Forget what our mission statement, or anything else says, what do you think this organization truly values?

Another option that I have used recently with some success is a simple “Start, Stop and Continue.” I simply kick the interview off by saying I have essentially three questions for them:

1. What is one thing we, as an organization should start doing?

2. What is one thing we, as an organization should stop doing?

3. What is one thing we, as an organization should continue doing?

Regardless of what you decide to do, just do it! Don’t wait until they exit to solicit feedback.

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