stay interview questions

Your Stay Interview questions are extremely important. But, with so many possible options available – where do you get started?

It’s important to get your Stay Interview questions right. Getting it wrong can mean that you invest your time, energy and resources into asking the wrong questions.

This can lead to poor retention data. If your data doesn’t tell you anything about why your employees stay – it’s a wasted opportunity.

At first, you will invest your time, energy and resources into figuring out which questions are most beneficial to your company. As a result, your data may be skewed for a short period of time. But, this investment will enable you to narrow down your questions to those which are most effective. It’s important to remember that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to the right questions to ask.

Download our e-book for more great tips on stay interviews and how they could help your business

Here at some tips to consider, when forming your set of perfect questions:

1. What do you want to do with the stay-interview data after?

First and foremost, this is a battle between qualitative and quantitative data.

Do you want to collate all of the data into a graph at the end? Then consider using questions that translate into quantitative data.

Do you want to file a report on all of the reasons why your employees leave or stay? If so, open and probing questions will deliver more qualitative data.

In our experience, a mix of both may be the best option. Qualitative data can take a long time to analyse. Our clients tell us that, if there is one thing they are guilty of, it’s not taking the time to properly analyse the results.

Similarly, too much quantitative data can generate simplistic evidence – it won’t explain everything in as much depth as may be beneficial.

retention interviews

2. Your company values

You would like to think, considering this individual has a job at your company, that they are familiar with your company values.

Better yet – you would like to think that, whilst they are at work, they live and breathe your company values.

Many companies have a set of core values. Consider incorporating your company values into yourStay Interview questions.

Try basing some of the questions entirely around your core values. This will, indirectly, allow you to get a feel as to how engaged the employee is.

retention interviews

3. Avoid questions that contribute to the ‘Company Ego’

Having reviewed hundreds of Stay Interviews, we know that questions such as “Why are we the best company to work for?” are, without a shadow of a doubt, to be avoided. However, they still crop up time and time again. You don’t want to give the impression to the employee that the ‘Company Ego’ is more important to you – especially not in their Retention Interview.

Asking these sorts of questions generates extremely biased data and feedback – meaning that it’s completely invaluable to you. If you ask questions with the obvious answer, don’t be surprised if the majority of people tell you about how amazing your company is.

Questions that go for an extra level of depth can be much more beneficial. Try one of our favourites – “If you were approached by an external recruiter about a new role elsewhere, what reasons would you give them for wanting to stay here?”

This type of situational question is more real-life. Your new hire will have time to reflect. This should allow you to elicit much better evidence about the new-starter experience.

The Stay Interview questions are just one piece of the puzzle – it must be right, but the questions must also align with how and when you conduct the interviews.

Are you finding you have high turnover and want to find out why your staff might be leaving? Click here to find out how Cohesion can help you. 

Conducting Retention interviews is an integral part of your employee experience

Conducting Retention interviews is an integral part of your employee experience

Conducting Retention Interviews is a necessary part of your employee experience. Retention data is important – our clients tell us that, without clear data, they cannot make reliable decisions on which HR initiatives are likely to have the most positive impact on why employees choose to stay.

Employee benefits; such as better pay, better training, and a better benefits package – all come at a cost to your company. So, it makes sense that clear and robust retention data helps HR teams to pinpoint which initiatives will have the greatest impact. Conducting Retention Interviews in the way most suited to your company is massively important.

Choosing how to generate good retention data is key – get it wrong, and you’re unlikely to find out any more than you already know. But, how do you go about choosing the right tool?

Your preferred option should satisfy two needs – high response rate, and honest feedback.

So, what are your options?

  • Face-to-face

Conducting Retention Interviews face-to-face would, arguably, generate the highest response rate. Think about it – you can’t ignore your line manager, or your HR team, if they’re right in front you, can you?

This approach might, however, have a detrimental effect in terms of honest feedback – new-starters are less likely to point out the negatives with their Manager, especially if they have an issue which is directly related to their Manager. Consequently, conducting Retention Interviews face-to-face may be limited in delivering honest feedback.

Dependent on the size of your company, and staff turnover levels, face-to-face methods can put a lot of pressure on your HR or Operational resources. If you are unsure on whether you will be able to commit the resource to manage this internally, face-to-face might not produce the right outcomes.

  • Telephone

Another option is to conduct Retention Interviews over the telephone.

Arguably, telephone interviews may produce a similar amount of unreliable feedback as face-to-face interviews. However, this can be mitigated by addressing the lack of anonymity. You can do this by having them carried out by someone other than their immediate line manager.

Again, if the manager or HR team cannot commit to consistently conducting these interviews, the reliability of your data will suffer. The amount of people that you can speak to is directly related to response levels. In our experience, conducting telephone interviews outside of working hours is an effective way of driving the response rate upwards.

If you’re not convinced you can commit resources to constant telephone interviews, then your data is going to be just as unreliable. Another option, however, could be to collaborate with an outsourced provider. This will guarantee anonymity for the new-starter, improving the quality of the data whilst also gaining more of it – allowing your HR teams to make more reliable decisions. But, this option comes at a cost. So, be clear about your likely Return on Investment, before you invest.

  • Online/email

A third option would be asking your new-starters to conduct the Retention Interview via email/online. The response for this approach, as you may expect, can be considerably lower than the other two. Think about it – how easy is it to ignore an email?

However, much like the telephone interview, it can offer some form of anonymity. Therefore, this approach may generate good levels of honest feedback.

Your internal HR team, by all likelihood, will face a limited impact once you’re all set up.

Whilst it’s important to approach your audience in the right way – the best Retention Interviews will align with 3 components; the way you approach them; when you approach them, and; the questions that you ask.

From the point-of-view of an outsourced provider, we’ve tried and tested all three of these methods. Telephone Retention Interviews achieved by far the greatest level of response (achieving over an 80% average across our client base). They also produce a lot of actionable and honest feedback. This is why we don’t do it any other way!

How will you approach your employees? We’d love to hear in our comments below!

Conducting Retention Interviews

There are positives for both Exit and Retention Interviews. But, which of these will work better for your organisation?

Businesses are well-versed in conducting interviews when recruiting for a vacancy. However, what many hiring managers and HR directors miss is the importance of conducting exit interviews and retention interviews. These could very well be the key to improving that all important retention rate and recruitment experience for your business.

Let’s break down the differences:  Exit Interviews vs Retention Interviews. 

Improving Employee Retention

Make it easy for your new employees to give feedback by conducting Retention Interviews

What are Retention Interviews?

Best conducted within 6 months to a year of a new employee joining your business, retention interviews are a strong measure of how well the induction process reflects the culture and values of the organisation. They are also an insight into whether their expectations of the role, management and work environment are being met.

  • Identify any core issues which could be resolved, as in turn, this may influence their job satisfaction – a deciding factor in whether a new starter is motivated to stay
  • Could provide you with an insight into how long an employee envisions staying within the role – allowing you to forecast potential demands for future recruitment
  • Listening to the needs of the workforce can be fundamental in improving morale and motivation levels across the organisation as well as increasing quality and output levels
  • Unless a solution is implemented or the employee feedback is actively taken on board, this could result in a lack of motivation since the employee feels their views and needs are being overlooked
  • Employees could be less likely to open up and be honest about their experience as a new starter, often in the fear that this could be perceived negatively by their manager
Implementing Exit Interviews

Exit Interviews can help you to improve your recruitment process and working environment

What are Exit Interviews?

Exit interviews are conducted to highlight reasons as to why the employee has left the organisation. Regarded as an opportunity to review the potential positives and pitfalls of employee engagement within your business. Understanding why employees are leaving your business could help you to improve the experience of current employees and others who may join.

  • Developing an understanding of why individuals are leaving can help you work towards creating a better working environment, as ex-employees are likely to be honest about their experience. This provides useful feedback for your business
  • Conducting exit interviews could provide you with a competitive edge once a resolution has been implemented, especially if reasons for leaving are due to market conditions
  • Employee retention is increased over time due to improved interaction and work environment
  • It is likely there will be trends in the responses from ex-employees, unless feedback is acted upon. Thus, rendering the process counter-productive.
  • Once employees have left, they are unlikely to correspond with their previous employer. The timing of the interview must be carefully planned in order to obtain honest and valuable feedback.
  • Exit interviews can be time-consuming. They need to be arranged and conducted as well as result in the implementation of an effective solution.

Exit and retention interviews can be a fantastic tool for improving the quality of your employees’ experience. This can be a determining factor of retention rates.


In-house vs Outsourcing: Exit and Retention Interviews

Exit and Retention interviews are both great ways of capturing reliable data and Management Information. As a result, Exit and Retention Interviews can shape the way you engage with your employees.


Exit interviews will give you the scope to understand why employees leave. Whereas, Retention interviews will give you an idea of what could influence people to stay. You will also receive feedback regarding what’s good about your on boarding and induction processes.

It’s likely that these kind of interviews would have the ability to make a positive impact on your business. But, how do you go about conducting them? And, is it better to outsource them or conduct them in-house?

  • Cultural understanding – The interviewee has the opportunity to express themselves to someone who has first-hand experience and knowledge of your business and its culture.
  • Quick resolve – Conflicts can be resolved and swift action can be taken to encourage the interviewee to stay.
  • Added control – You have influence over who conducts the interview, what its contents will be and how much time is spent conducting them.
  • Closure – In the context of an exit interview, an in-house experience can give the leaver closure.
  • Fairness – A third-party provider is impartial and the employee can remain anonymous.
  • Honest feedback – Due to the nature of an outsourced interview, feedback may be more honest and collect more meaningful data
  • Consistency – There will be a uniform process in place which will have a positive impact on the data that is collected.
  • Expertise – An outsourced provider will have knowledge and experience of conducting exit and retention interviews. Therefore, they will have a good understanding of what questions will work best for you and your business.
  • Data and Management Information – A third-party provider will have expert data analysts to interpret the data collected and present it concisely, focusing on areas that will create the most impact.
  • Savings –  You save money, resource and time by all interviews being conducted in one place.


Whether done in-house or externally, exit and retention interviews can make a real difference to your business. If done properly, with consistency and impartiality, the data generated can help to shape your business and improve retention rates.


Recruitment is the process of having the right person, in the right place, at the right time and it is crucial to organisational performance. According to a report from Oxford Economics the cost to employers of replacing a single member of staff is at least £30,000, so you need to get this right!  Ensuring your talent management strategy is up to scratch is vital for securing the correct candidates and ensuring they are respected and treated well in your organisation.

The last thing you want is to lose your top talent to other companies who may be offering a better work package and benefits.

In a recent survey Deloitte, HSBC, BT and Tesco, as well as the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, were among 127 employers to reveal that more than half were having difficulty filling vacancies and most will spend more on training to bring recruits up to standard. Therefore it is important that the top talent you have within your organisation are retained and are there to stay!

It is essential to understand exactly what Talent is and how Talent Management is being used today in organisations. According to the CIPD these are defined as:

  • Talent consists of those individuals who can make a difference to organisational performance either through their immediate contribution or, in the longer-term, by demonstrating the highest levels of potential.
  • Talent management is the systematic attraction, identification, development, engagement, retention and deployment of those individuals who are of particular value to an organisation

Many organisations are now focusing on evaluating their staff members; from this are able to develop their strengths and create training programmes tailored to each individual. The process is an ongoing loop from attracting, developing, managing, tracking and evaluating talent management – each part of this process in equally important in building a planned strategy to effectively measure the return on investment.


Within the managing talent category sits retention interviews, which are a one-on-one structured discussion between an interviewer (this may be a hiring manager, a member of HR or an impartial third party) and an employee within their employment. These interviews identify and reinforce the factors that might drive an employee to stay.

Retention or ‘stay’ interviews are a great way to find out what’s working well in your business and what might not be working effectively.

So the question is what works well and what can you do to ‘give back’ to your talented employees? Most businesses now offer flexibility, up front about working hours, actively promote good morale and offer plenty of training and development opportunities. Also, bonus plans are a great way to inspire and motive employees whilst rewarding hard workers and creating an overall positive office moral. According to Hubspot, innovative companies are now coming up with the idea that employees can suggest their own incentives allowing them to work towards rewards they want. Guess you need to get your thinking caps on!

Overall, you need to be forward thinking about talent management to ensure that your talent strategies contribute to your bottom line!

Written by Josephine Lester, Marketing Executive



exit and retention questions

Why conduct exit and retention interviews?

Properly conducted Exit and Retention Interviews can be extremely beneficial for any organisation. They help to collect important information regarding the turnover and retention of employees.

What can you do with exit and retention information?

The outcome will help to shape future decisions across all areas of your business. These include: selection, training and employee engagement and satisfaction.

Even though often gathered under the same title, exit and retention interviews differ slightly, however work towards the same goal of attempting to rectify any problems or to improve and make changes within an organisation.

Download our e-book for more tips on conducting the best retention interviews!

The difference between an exit interview and a retention interview

From one perspective Exit Interviews are designed to focus on the exiting employee, try and think of it more like environmental scanning in HR; to provide feedback on various elements about the organisation.

A Retention Interview would be a formal discussion between the employer/HR and the exiting employee. This discussion would mainly focus on retaining an employee who has resigned or is in the mind to. This could include offering additional pay package, perks etc…

A detailed look at exit and retention interviews:

Exit Interviews

Retention Interviews

To identify what your organisation is doing wellHelp to retain talent who are either in training and starting with the organisation or existing members who may be considering leaving
Pinpoint areas where you can improve in your organisationAssists employees to understand how they can contribute to the business and their importance and role
Confirm the skill sets, experience, and attributes needed for the jobMaintains performance and productivity and creates stimulation for key employees
Capture useful knowledge, contacts, tips, etc. from the exiting employeeIncrease company and employee morale
Understand why the employee is leaving and to say good-bye on good termsLowers turnover to create a Return on Investment (ROI)

Getting the most out of your exit and retention interviews

To gain the most out of your exit and retention interviews, timing is everything. Soon after an employee resigns, ideally, Exit Interviews should be conducted.

New employees are more likely to remain with the business, if Retention Interviews are completed during training time. Or, as soon as an existing employee expresses signs of leaving.

Would you like to know what makes your employees more likely to stay at your business, or why they may feel inclined to leave?
Click here to find out what Cohesion can do for you.