How to Get the Most out of Employee Interviews

For many of you, interviewing employees is nothing short of nerve-wracking. You might end up hearing some pretty unpleasant things. Think about the last time someone resigned from a job at your company. Did you ask them what it would take to get them to stay at the company? Did you simply let them walk away? In the future, you can get the most out of employee interviews by asking “stay” questions versus “leave” questions. Try the following five steps that can help you shape your “stay” interviews so that you can get the most out of them.

1. Be Prepared

Always go into an employee interview feeling well-prepared. Have a brief list of key questions prepared, but go off-script when necessary. You don’t want to come off as being stiff and hyper-critical. Instead, keep the discussion focused on retention. Also, the discussion can be informal, so you don’t have to practice asking questions beforehand like you’re trying to read a script for an audition.

2. Make Engagement Matter

Use this opportunity to expand upon employee engagement. Open with an explanation of why you’re conducting the interview and let your employee know that you value their ideas and opinions. The whole reason you are doing this is so that you can figure out how to best meet your employees’ diverse needs. Once the interview questions have all been asked, give your employee more time to chime in. Allow them to ask you questions, and do your best to answer them honestly. This sets the stage for better engagement in the workplace.

3. Questions to Avoid

You might feel like asking employees if they’re happy at their jobs or if they think they’re making enough money. Don’t! Closed-ended questions don’t give employees much of an opportunity to provide constructive and helpful feedback. These questions can make employees feel like they’re being backed into a corner and either have to lie to keep their jobs or tell the truth and fear getting fired. Instead, ask open-ended questions that provide more room for engagement. This creates a heightened sense of employee engagement and allows more opportunities for contribution.

4. Ask “Stay” Questions

The bulk of your interview will be asking “stay” questions. Ask your employees about what kinds of self-improvement opportunities they would like to have and what skills of theirs you can maximize that you haven’t already. You might also want to consider asking them about the contributions they feel they have already made while at the job, what type of feedback they would like to receive in the future, and what type of feedback they would like to provide on how the company is doing. Focus on the positives rather than the negatives and allow employees enough time to give their honest answers.

5. Annually Conduct “Stay” Interviews

Conducting these interviews on an annual basis with your high-performing employees can help you retain and optimize their talents and skills. Select different employees every year, but don’t forget about the employees you have already interviewed! Find some time to casually catch up with them and engage them. This doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process, and even interviewing a select few employees can provide you with a lot of helpful feedback.

Employee interviews don’t have to be a nightmare for you or your employees. Asking a few open-ended “stay” questions and avoiding closed-ended “leave” questions can help you grow your company. Your employees might feel more appreciated and incentivized to stay if they see that you care about their development and contributions.


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