Interview_Love heart lock on a bridge

How to prepare for a stay interview

Stay interviews can be a great tool to improve retention and ensure that employees are happier and more secure in their role. An important part of the employee lifecycle, just like onboarding and offboarding processes, stay interviews have a slightly different focus, and it’s important that every employee is prepared to get the most value out of the experience.

What is a stay interview? 

Stay interviews, much like job interviews or exit interviews, are a chance for employees to have their voices heard by their employers. 

Instead of at the beginning or the end of their time with an organisation, a stay interview is conducted in the midst of someone’s current role. It’s a chance for employers to take the temperature of an individual’s career and understand what’s motivating them to stick around, or get a feel for whether they’re looking elsewhere for new opportunities. 

Organisations usually conduct stay interviews with those employees they consider 1. to be their ‘best and brightest’ or 2. those who are difficult to replace. The job market is tight and it’s important that organisations do everything they can to avoid the costly and time-consuming task of replacing key employees. 

For employees, stay interviews can be a valuable exercise in expressing what you love about your role and, if an organisation is worth their salt, they will make changes to ensure that the future of the company is shaped by your insights. 

Be honest in your stay interview

Remember that in stay interviews, employees are in a position of influence – perhaps more so than in any other interview situation. Organisations want to know what’s working and what they can change to make sure you stay for as long as possible and so that they attract more talent like you. 

The only way they will get their insights is if you are honest. What do you love about the organisation? What’s not working? If you’re looking elsewhere for a new opportunity, what kinds of things are you looking for? 

Stay interviews aren’t for oversharing, but ensure that anything you do share is accurate and honest – organisations will get better insights and, hopefully, make changes to ensure you are happier and more secure at work. It’s a win-win situation where there’s very little to gain from concealing the truth. Interviews_Love lock bridge in Paris

Keep an open mind 

While good organisations should make changes according to your feedback and insights in your stay interview, remember that changes might not happen overnight and it’s impossible to control what will happen next. 

Keeping an open mind throughout the process will ensure that you can see stay interviews for what they are, rather than pinning all your hopes on the experience. 

Know the limitations of your stay interview 

Stay interviews aren’t a magical fix for things you would like to change within the organisation. 

If your current role ticks all your boxes, but you would like better remuneration, stay interviews can be a great time to bring this up – it’s important for organisations to know about the reasons you might leave – but stay interviews aren’t the right place to expect a resolution on the spot. 

While, as an employee, you may be in a position of power in stay interviews, holding your employer to ransom isn’t an effective strategy. Plus, the person conducting the interview – whether it’s a third-party or your manager – is unlikely to have the authority to act on your feedback within the stay interview itself and, if they do make promises, it’s likely that they might need to go back on their word later.

Advocate for better stay interviews 

When managers conduct stay interviews, it can compromise the integrity of the exercise. Employees are more likely to feel comfortable and be honest when there is a third party conducting the interview. A third-party can also help to establish limitations – employees might expect a manager to act on their feedback straight away but with a third party, it’s understood that there may be a process before feedback is put into action.

If you’re getting ready for a stay interview, it’s worth asking your organisation who will be conducting the interview. Request that a third-party provider is involved and remind them of the benefits this can have for the outcome of the stay interview – it will become a more valuable experience for employees and employers alike. 

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