Originally posted on EvaDelRio.com. Q: I was taken by surprise when one of my top performing employees –who’d been with us over two years- resigned out of nowhere. I later learned they went to one of our competitors, which makes the loss even more regrettable. Is there anything that I can do to prevent employees from leaving? Especially to the competition?A: It’s possible that you may have avoided this situation if you were doing periodic “stay” interviews with your most valuable employees, the MVEs you don’t want to lose.Stay interviews are a pro-active way to avoid an exit interview and might have been helpful in your case. Because they’re an opportunity to have a conversation with your employee about what’s working, what’s bugging them, whether you can do something to improve their experience, you might have learned the employee was unhappy and have been able to do something.The stay interview usually starts out with easy questions and builds up to the more sensitive ones. Some of my favorite ones include:What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?Do you feel valued for your contributions?If you were to win the lottery and resign, what would you miss the most?If you could, what would you change about your job?Do you have suggestions on how to make this a better place to work?Have you ever considered leaving the company? If yes, what caused it? Why did you decide to stay?What might entice you away from the company?If you decide to give stay interviews a try, here are some tips:They should be conducted by the direct manager.The tone should be conversational, informal and sincere.Listen patiently, don’t interrupt, or trivialize or get defensive. The conversation should be a positive experience, the employee should walk away feeling valued.Don’t mix performance evaluations with a stay interview. They serve completely different purposes and should remain separate.I encourage you to try the stay interview concept. They are effective, build trust and strengthen work relationships because they communicate to the employee, “You are important”; “You are valued”; “I’m interested in your thoughts and opinions”.And that would make anybody want to stay.