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    "Stay Interviews" Are Coming. Here's What Workers Need To Know

    It's the next big trend in the Great Resignation era.

    As the Great Resignation continues, many employers are starting to wonder what they can do to keep more people from leaving. Enter the "stay interview."

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    Don't worry — this isn't an interview where employees have to make a case for why they should stay in their jobs. Rather, it's about employers learning what experiences, benefits, and compensation will help them retain the people that they hope to keep on their teams. 

    To learn more about stay interviews and how you can use them as a time to negotiate for what you want, I reached out to Lily Valentin, Head of Operations for North America at the job posting search engine Adzuna. Here's what she had to say:

    1. First of all, stay interviews are generally more informal than, say, a job interview.

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    Valentin says that these types of interviews tend to be a bit more casual, so you don't need to freak out or get extra dressed up if your boss schedules a stay interview with you. "The conversation focuses on what is motivating an employee to stay, what they enjoy about their current position, what would improve their work experience, and their career development goals within the organization."

    "Though this can seem nerve-racking at first, the stay interview is an opportunity for every employee to share how they have been feeling, what they are enjoying about the company, and what can be done to keep them from looking elsewhere if they’re on the fence about their future."

    2. In fact, getting invited to a stay interview can actually be a really great sign that your boss wants to keep you around.

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    Being invited to a stay interview is pretty positive — it means that your boss recognizes your contributions and likely doesn't want to lose you. "At a time when employees aren’t short of choice, knowing their current employer cares about their experience, work situation, professional ambitions, and is eager to address any challenges, makes all the difference," Valentin says.

    3. So what kinds of questions can you expect to be asked in a stay interview?

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    A stay interview can cover a lot of ground. Valentin provided a list of some sample questions that you might get from your employer: 

    • How are you feeling in your role? 

    • What motivates you to “come in'' to work/log on every day? 

    • What are some of the challenges you’re facing that prevent you from delivering your best outputs, and what do you think the team and company can do to alleviate these challenges? 

    • Are you able to find a positive work-life balance, and if not, what can we do to help? 

    • Is there anything you really don’t enjoy working on, and is there anything you are looking to work on more? 

    • What are your longer-term career aspirations?

    4. And unlike a job interview, you can actually ask to see stay interview questions in advance and prepare your answers.

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    When it comes to stay interviews, Valentin says that it can be really helpful to ask for the questions in advance and prepare your answers. "A great way to ensure there is no miscommunication on the objectives is to ask what questions will be asked in advance and have bullet points for each one. This is especially important if your chat is with a member of the executive team or even the CEO."

    Bringing in your bullet points (including relevant stats about your work) will make the meeting so much more productive than trying to wing it on the spot. And doing a bit of prep will really come in handy if there's something you want, like a raise, the option to work from home, or another new benefit.

    5. It's important to be honest when you're giving feedback, but not ~too~ honest.

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    "As cliche as it sounds, honesty is the only policy," says Valentin. "Otherwise, it defeats the purpose of a stay interview. Employers won’t know how a worker is feeling, so it’s the responsibility of the employee to be open and honest in order to get the most out of the experience." Your boss can't read your mind, so don't miss out on this chance to share your thoughts. 

    But Valentin warns that you'll want to be tactful about any criticism you wish to share. "If you really dislike something in your role, you can get your point across without needing to swear, etc. This is an informal conversion, but it’s still professional." So instead of calling the last couple years "an absolute clusterfork" (even if that's 100% true), you might say it's been "a challenging time." You get the idea.

    6. And if there's something that would definitely make you quit, it may be best to find a less-direct way to address it.

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    "Unless your employer directly asks what would force you to leave, this can be a difficult boundary to communicate," Valentin says. It's understandable — giving ultimatums can damage any kind of relationship. "Instead," she suggests, "try creating a series of career milestones with your manager where you set out different goals that you want to achieve."

    So what might that look like? "For example, if you’re gunning for a promotion, discuss a timeframe and what you need to do to get there. The implication is then that if your career aspirations and day-to-day job reality aren’t complementary, you will look elsewhere." This way, you're building a plan together that helps you reach your goals.

    7. A stay interview can also be a time to mention that you're interested in getting a raise. If so, do your homework on salaries for similar roles before the meeting.

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    Whenever you're negotiating for a raise, it's a good idea to research similar salaries. "When an employee intricately understands their skills and the value they bring to the table, an employer will be more likely to acknowledge it," Valentin says. "Using a tool like Adzuna’s ValueMyResume is a great place to start, as well as researching competitors, how much they pay, and what incentives they’re offering."

    8. And come prepared with concrete examples of your achievements to show them why you should be getting paid more.

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    While it would be nice if your manager would just say, "Here's money — go!" you have a better shot at actually getting a raise if you can point to specific things you've done. And they don't all have to be big projects or huge wins for the company. "For instance, if an employee increased their value by learning new skills or by working toward a certification, it’s crucial their employer is aware because it shows career ambition and a desire to learn and advance," Valentin says.

    "In addition," she continues, "employees should highlight what their collaboration, timeliness, and communication have been like with the team. Coming with examples of success and dedication will help an employee have a strong case when asking for a raise."

    9. But if you do ask for a raise, be wary of these three don'ts.

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    First, even if you happen to know that another coworker is making more than you, Valentin says don't compare your pay in your negotiations. "This can create awkwardness and can distract from your key arguments. It’s better to focus on your own value and achievements."

    And don't mention your financial situation during a negotiation either. "Things like wanting to get a dog or needing to upgrade your car, though, could be very honest reasons for wanting a raise, but aren’t a compelling reason for deserving higher compensation," Valentin explains. As someone who made this mistake at one of my first jobs, let me tell you, they did not care, and it did not work. 

    Finally, don't rush the process. "It may take a little time for any raise to be signed off on internally, so don’t expect immediate action. If necessary, ask your employer for a follow-up conversation to discuss the outcome. In the meantime, remember to thank them for their time."

    10. You can also use a stay interview to talk about benefits you'd like to see, like a more flexible schedule or remote work.

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    If there's a benefit you want, use the stay interview to let your manager know. You can prep for bringing this up by thinking about the cost and benefit to your employer if they gave you what you want. "Use the same approach as when asking for a raise and justify the value of the benefit to your employer," Valentin says. "This could be by demonstrating how paid training or a change of work schedule will help you do your job more effectively, or it could be about how a benefit will help your health and well-being, improving your work performance."

    11. Finally, you can also use a stay interview as a time to ask questions about the past year and the year ahead.

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    If you have specific questions, Valentin suggests sending them ahead of time so your manager can prepare. And if you're not sure what to even ask, she provided a list of sample questions to help you get started: 

    • How has my performance been this past year? 

    • What do I need to work on in order to be applicable for the next position in my career?

    • Is it possible for me to work on other projects that I am more passionate about?

    • What are the benefits and perks that the company will be implementing next year? 

    • Will there be more flexibility regarding work hours?

    • What do I need to work on in order to be applicable for the next position in my career?

    • Is it possible for me to work on other projects that I am more passionate about?


    Have you been in a stay interview? Share your experience in the comments!

    And for more stories about work and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts