Interviewing for Talent Retention

May 2024
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In an ideal world, the relationship between an employee and their manager would be a two-way street. There would be consistent and productive dialogue outside of the standard review cycle conversations. The employee would feel comfortable sharing their challenges, aspirations and motivations. The manager would be able to identify opportunities for their employee’s growth and ensure that they feel valued while doing their best work. 

It’s a highly competitive job market, and the PR profession isn’t any different. Hiring managers are vying for the top talent and recruiters are turning over every rock to find the best of the best. Just think of all the valuable time (and money) that goes into filling an open role, not to mention the pain of being short-staffed. 

Wouldn’t it be better to conduct a stay interview with that top performer rather than an exit interview when they have already decided to leave your company? Yes, absolutely!

What is a stay interview, and would it help me with retention?

A stay interview is conducted with employees at all stages of the employee life cycle. Essentially, you are gauging if they’re happy in their role and identifying any potential roadblocks that might lead to an untimely resignation. These conversations, which are more hands-on than the “employee satisfaction survey,” lead to healthier work environments. 

On that note, you should keep the conversation informal. The employee’s feedback is so important, and you do not want them to be anxious about the potential implications of their genuine feedback. You should aim to create a safe space. The stay interview is a commitment to fostering continuous growth by allowing your employees the space to be seen and heard, and it shouldn’t be considered a performance review. 

By increasing employee engagement through stay interviews and identifying areas for improvement, learning, development and need-specific programs, you will be directly improving retention within your organization. You will also be improving the experiences of staff in the future as you adapt and innovate based on the needs of the workforce. 

What are some questions that are asked during a stay interview?

Looking at this conversation as one being held between an employee and their direct manager, here are some solid conversation starters to consider:

  • What do you look forward to when you begin work each day?
  • Are there aspects of your role that you find challenging or frustrating?
  • How do you feel about the support and resources available to you?
  • What do you need more of, or less of, from me? 
  • How do you best receive recognition at work?
  • How do you see your role evolving in the future?
  • What might tempt you to leave, and what would keep you here?
  • What have I not asked that we should talk about?

When asking your employees these questions and discussing anything else that comes up in the stay interview, it’s essential to listen actively to the responses and ask for more details, too. Only take notes to recall top-line details. Outside of that, aim to be fully present and unbiased — and please, do not get defensive. Promote respect, show empathy and make transparent decisions. 

Sometimes, a pain point might be addressed simply, such as by providing upskilling opportunities or internal mobility. If it’s more complex, then at least you are now aware and can make a plan of action based on the feedback your employee has disclosed to you. Keep your employees updated on any changes being implemented, and if a particular concern cannot be addressed, then explain why. 

The stay interview is one of many things that can truly improve talent retention and reduce turnover by shaping a workforce that is happier, motivated and more loyal. 

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