Episode #111 – The Importance of the Stay Interview for Employers

Samantha: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive recruiter Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary companies hire top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that improve their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the importance of what’s called the stay interview for employers. Hello, Stacy, and that you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Samantha. As always, I’m glad to be here.

Samantha: Stacy, first of all, what is a stay interview? Can you define that for us?

Stacy: I certainly can. But first, I want to discuss the exit interview, which we’ve discussed before on our podcast. In fact, the exit interview was the topic of podcast #79. The exit interview is the interview that an employer conducts with an employee when that employee gives their notice because they’ve accepted a position with another organization. In that situation, the employer is attempting to gather information from the soon-to-be former employee that will help it to improve in the area of retention going forward.

But a stay interview is different from an exit interview.

Samantha: How’s that?

Stacy: First, a stay interview is conducted with an employee while that employee is still working for the organization and has not given their notice or decided to take a position with another organization. The benefit of the stay interview is that it’s not too late to do something with the information that you gather from it, at least in terms of the employee. With the exit interview, on the other hand, the employee is leaving and any information gathered during the interview can’t typically be used to keep the employee from leaving. The employee is leaving, regardless.

Samantha: It sounds like the stay interview is kind of like a performance review or performance evaluation. Is that the case?

Stacy: It’s a little different because in a performance review, the emphasis is on the employee’s performance and the value that the employee is providing to the organization. In a stay interview, the emphasis is on what the organization can do for the employee and the value that the organization can provide to the employee. Specifically, it’s about the value that the organization can provide to the employee in order to convince the employee to stay. That’s why it’s called a stay interview.

Samantha: What is some of the information that employers are trying to gather during a stay interview?

Stacy: There is some basic information that the organization is attempting to gather. This includes the reason or reasons that the employee likes their job, including what they look forward to when they come to work. On the flip side of that, the organization also finds out what the employee does not like about their job. This allows it to tackle two problems at once.

Samantha: What problems are those?

Stacy: First, if there are things that an employee doesn’t like about their job or their employment situation, the organization can take steps to remedy the situation so that the employee does not leave for another employment opportunity. Second, the organization can take the feedback and use it to make the experience of the other employees better so that they also stay. This helps to increase the retention rate across the board, which is ultimately the goal of the stay interview, especially when it comes to top employees.

Samantha: That leads me to a question, Stacy. Does an employer conduct stay interviews with all of its employees?

Stacy: An employer can conduct stay interviews with whichever employees it wants. Obviously, an organization wants to retain its top employees, so those are the ones that the organization usually interviews first. If an employee is providing a tremendous amount of value, the organization wants them to continue providing that level of value.

Samantha: What are some best practices for stay interviews?

Stacy: There are a number of them. First, an employer needs to schedule them ahead of time and let the employees know what they are and they will consist of. If the organization has both performance reviews and stay interviews, make sure that they’re not scheduled close together.

Also choose a setting in which the employees will feel comfortable. You want them to feel comfortable to be completely honest and tell the truth about their experience with the organization.

Samantha: Is that more difficult with a stay interview as opposed to an exit interview, because the employee is staying and not leaving?

Stacy: Yes, it can be. When an employee has already given their notice and will soon be working for another organization, it’s easier for them to say what is really on their mind. That’s because they have no fear of repercussions. With a stay interview, on the other hand, the employee isn’t going anywhere. They’re going to continue working for the organization once the interview is over, so it might be more difficult for them to be completely honest when answering the question. Even if they like their job and they feel comfortable, it still may be difficult for them to be completely honest.

Samantha: What are some of the questions that are asked during stay interviews?

Stacy: There’s a variety, but they all hit on pretty much the same themes. Some of them are rather easy to answer, but some of them are rather challenging.

For example, one of the questions could be, “What do you look forward to each day when you come to work?”

Another question is “What can the company or organization do to make your employment experience better?”

Samantha: I can see why those questions are rather easy to answer. What are some challenging questions?

Stacy: One such question is, “Have you ever thought about leaving the organization? If so, when was that and under what circumstances was it?”

Samantha: That would be a challenging question! Especially if the person is going to continue working for the organization.

Stacy: Yes, but it’s an important question and one that really helps an organization do what is necessary to find out exactly how to retain its best employees. If an employee is 100% honest with their answers to the questions in a stay interview, the organization can accomplish that.

Samantha: Stacy, are stay interviews more effective with the younger generation?

Stacy: That’s a great question, and yes, by and large, stay interviews can be more effective with the younger generation. And when I say that, I do mean Millennials, and there are now more Millennials in the workforce than any other generation. As we’ve discussed before on our podcast, Millennials put a large premium on company culture and liking where they work. They also want to know that their work is being recognized and that they have a career path at their employer. If they don’t know these things, then they’re going to believe that they’re not recognized or valued and that they don’t have a career path. That’s why these interviews are so important for the younger generation, but they are really important for any generation.

Samantha: Stacy, are stay interviews and the issue of retention even more important in light of the current candidates’ market?

Stacy: Yes, absolutely. It’s more important than ever for Animal Health and Veterinary companies to retain their top employees. With the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession hovering around 1%, it can be difficult to identify and hire top talent in the marketplace. That’s why employers need to take the steps necessary to improve retention, and that includes with the stay interview.

Samantha: We’ve mentioned this in previous episodes, but you have a certification called the CERS. That stands for Certified Employee Retention Specialist, is that correct?

Stacy: It does.

Samantha: What does that mean, exactly?

Stacy: It means that I’m certified to help employers become better at retaining their employees in order for them to have a competitive advantage in the marketplace, which as we’ve discussed, is highly competitive at the moment.

Samantha: Stacy, thank you for joining us today and for this great information regarding the stay interview. I’m looking forward to our next episode.

Stacy: You’re very welcome, Samantha, and thank you. I’m also looking forward to our next episode!