7 Stay Interview Questions to Ask Your Employees

Manager asking her employee a series of stay interview questions.

A stay interview is when you speak with current employees to get feedback on what they like about their job and working at your company—and what could be improved. If you successfully implement what you learn, insightful stay interview questions will help you retain top talent and fine-tune your recruitment process.

Think of this as an exit interview for employees who haven’t handed in their two weeks’ notice. It’s beneficial to have stay interviews with each of your direct reports once a year. (You may want to have them and at the three- and six-month mark for new employees to make sure they’re happy.)

Like any meeting, you’ll get the most out of it if you prepare in advance instead of winging it. Consider asking these seven questions, making sure you give employees the space and confidence to answer them honestly (even if the answers sting a bit).

1. Is There Anything I Can Do to Be a Better Manager?

There’s a saying that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. You’re likely to get constructive criticism that can help you improve as a manager. For example, if you learn that it would be helpful to give feedback more frequently, you could have short one-on-one meetings every week or biweekly.

Remember, the goal here is to get useful, actionable feedback and what you receive may not be so flattering. If you have a strained relationship with your direct report, they may be more comfortable answering these questions honestly with someone from HR.

2. What do You Like Most About Your Job? Why?

This question will help you understand the types of projects and responsibilities your direct report enjoys. People usually prefer the tasks they are the best at, so it can also help you determine their strengths. This is sure to make them happier and more successful.

If you give them more of these types of projects and responsibilities, you’re likely to increase employee engagement, which can boost retention and performance for your entire team.

3. What are One or Two Things You’d Like to Change About Your Role?

It’s probable that the things they’d want to change would be a factor in searching for a new job. You may be able to accommodate some of the changes, whether it’s improving work-life balance or delegating some of their responsibilities, so they have time for higher-level tasks.

If they have a long list of things that can’t be changed and you can’t accommodate them, it might be a sign that they would be happier at another job.

4. What are Your Short- and Long-Term Goals?

You are likely to lose top talent if you don’t have a clear career advancement path for each employee. Your team members will think they need to leave to get a higher title and salary, even if you’re willing to prepare them for new responsibilities and an eventual promotion.

Answers to stay interview questions like this will help you set up and clearly articulate a career development plan for your direct reports so they know the goals and skills they need to get a raise and promotion. This will have the added benefit of increasing employee morale, engagement, and retention (not to mention recruitment).

5. What Resources and Support Would Help You Achieve These Goals?

You’ll discover actionable ways you can help them stay motivated and achieve their goals so they can advance. If you see a pattern in the requests, see if you can implement new career advancement initiatives.

For example, you could create new skills training programs and mentorships. If there is room in the budget, you may want to provide professional development stipends that can be used to attend conferences, one-off classes, and certification courses.

6. What do You Like Most About Working Here?

This is one of the revealing stay interview questions that has the added benefit of helping you with recruitment. Include some of the positive responses in your employer branding to attract candidates. For example, you could mention some of the benefits in your job descriptions, on the career page of your company website, and at interviews and recruiting events.

If there is a long pause or they shrug their shoulders and say, “the free coffee,” it might be a sign that they are unhappy. However, there’s still time to make changes that will help you retain high performers.

7. What Would Improve the Company Culture?

The answer to this question will help you make your company culture even better, which will increase employee retention, productivity, and employee morale. Candidates want to work at an organization with a strong company culture, so these improvements are likely to help you attract top talent.

For example, you may find out that there is more you can do to increase diversity and inclusion. If that’s the case, you could focus on reaching diverse candidates, writing more inclusive job descriptions, and showcasing your diversity and inclusion initiatives in your employer branding. If you don’t already, you may want to establish Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) so team members at all levels can connect and support one another.

Leverage Your Stay Interview Questions Into Better HR Practices

These questions will help you recruit and retain the talent you need to make your company successful. Receive more HR tips, data, and news from Monster experts, so you can spend less of your time searching for advice and more time making it a reality.