University of Michigan
Retention Toolkit:  Resources for Retaining Valued Staff

Estimated Time to Complete: 30-45 MinutesSTEP 3

Prepare for and conduct retention interviews.

“Retention interviews can identify issues and concerns, so that negative issues can be addressed and positive factors can be reaffirmed and replicated

Diversity Blueprints Task Force Report

(March 2007)


Once you have determined which staff members may be considering leaving the University, you are ready to begin the retention interview process. A face-to-face conversation can be an extremely valuable tool for both you and your staff member(s). Consider incorporating it into your existing performance review or career development discussion cycles.

The staff interviews suggested here can be very valuable for both you and your staff members. They are designed to:

  • Help you strengthen your relationship

  • Get effective ideas about how you can help him or her a better experience on the job

  • Guide them toward future career growth, if desired

  • Retain a valuable staff member

Plan to allow about 30-45 minutes for each interview. Focus your interviews on those individuals identified as having the highest retention risk (Box 4 on the Retention Risk Matrix). Conduct additional interviews with lower risk individuals (Boxes 2 and 3) as needed.

The retention interview provides a foundation for a positive dialogue to determine if career expectations are being met and whether an action plan is necessary. The discussion also provides an excellent way to reinforce the University’s commitment to diversity by providing an opportunity to engage in one-on-one conversations with staff members from under-represented population groups.

Properly conducted, the retention interview is a powerful tool for assessing staff member commitment and identifying his or her specific retention issues and concerns.

Once you’ve completed the interview, you can move on to the next step in the process — developing a retention action plan.


Interview Tools for Supervisors

Complete the “Supervisor’s Pre-interview Worksheet” below before conducting the retention interview.  Use the “Supervisor’s Interview Form” to conduct the interview and record your notes.
The“Sample Interview” below provides an example of a typical retention interview conversation.  


Career Reflections Questionnaire for Staff
Step 4To help the staff member prepare for and frame the retention interview, the following questionnaire provides a useful foundation for discussing career aspirations. Give a copy of this questionnaire to each of the staff member(s) you plan to interview in advance of the interview to help them prepare for the discussion.