Is It Art or Science?

The following is an excerpt from the second chapter of “Hello Stay Interviews, Goodbye Talent Loss” by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. In their follow-up to “Love ’Em or Lose ’Em,” the two authors arm managers with tools to check in with their people – before it’s too late. To be successful with a “stay interview,” a leader must be tapping into his or her EQ (Emotional Quotient) – it’s more than just following a script. Read below to find out just how to conduct a “stay interview” and why bringing your authentic, real self is key.

Is the stay interview an art or a science? It’s both. The best stay interviews are a perfect blend of two things:

  1. The person you bring to it. That’s about your authenticity, attitude, and mind-set.
  2. The process, tools, and action steps you use. We’re giving you some of those in this book.

Great stay interviews require your genuine caring and curiosity. They also involve creating just the right questions, given your style and the employee’s. They require anticipating what your talented employees might ask of you and carefully preparing for any hard-to-deliver-on requests. And they include listening artfully as people tell you what matters most to them.

A Stay Interview by Any Other Name

You might be thinking that this sounds like the once-a-year conversations you’re required to have with your employees. But is it really? Or is that annual (often mandatory) conversation actually a performance appraisal? You know, where you list what they’ve done well, where they’ve fallen short, and what you hope they’ll do differently next year.

Or perhaps it’s an individual development planning discussion. These conversations focus on what your employees want to learn next.

Or maybe it’s a career discussion? Chats about careers are often about employees’ career goals. It’s a discussion about next steps.

The stay interview might include components of every one of these types of conversations. When you ask a questions like “What will keep you here?,” the answer might prompt a discussion about career performance, or learning opportunities. But the dialogue often goes well beyond those topics. It could include discussions of work/life balance concerns, or how to manage conflict with a teammate, or what your employees really want and need from you.

business people talking on meeting

“What will keep you here? What might entice you away?”

These are the most powerful stay interview questions, the granddaddies of them all. Until you try them, you won’t believe the positive impact they can have on the talented people you hope to keep on your team. And you’ll be amazed at the new information you’ll receive.
Beyond those questions, there are are dozens of other terrific queries you can use, depending on variables such as your relationship with this person, the organization’s culture, the situation at hand, your goals for the conversation, your comfort level, and your experience with stay interviews.

To read more, click here for book details.


Dr. Beverly Kaye, founder of Career Systems International, is recognized internationally as one of the most invested, knowledgeable, and practical professionals in the areas of career development, employee engagement and retention, and mentoring. She has spent years researching corporate strategies for developing, retaining, and engaging knowledge workers. Her Love ’Em or Lose ’Em: Getting Good People to Stay, co-authored with Sharon Jordan-Evans, has sold over 600,000 copies in 25 languages and has reached Wall Street Journal and Amazon bestseller status. Their companion book, Love It, Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work, suggests that employee engagement is also the responsibility of the individual contributor. Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want, co-authored with Julie Winkle Giulioni, was published in 2012, and Hello Stay Interviews, Goodbye Talent Loss (with Sharon Jordan-Evans) is her latest book. These books are the foundation for Career Systems International’s successful practice in career development, employee engagement, and retention. Visit the website at

Sharon Jordan-Evans is a pioneer in the field of employee retention and engagement. She serves as a prominent speaker for numerous conferences and works with Fortune 500 companies such as American Express, Boeing, Disney, Lockheed, Cheesecake Factory, Monster, MTV, PBS, Sony, and Universal Studios. In addition to Hello Stay Interviews, Goodbye Talent Loss, Jordan-Evans is also co-author, with Beverly Kaye, of Love ’Em or Lose ’Em: Getting Good People to Stay and Love It, Don’t Leave It.

Sharon has a master’s degree in organization development and is a Professional Certified Coach, coaching the leaders companies can least afford to lose. She also serves as a resource for a number of national media, including Business 2.0, Chief Executive, CIO, Harvard Management Update, Working Woman, Investor Business Daily, Business Week, and the LA Times. Sharon lives in Cambria, California, with her husband, Mike, and has four grown children, all on the West Coast.