July 1, 2022
10 min read

What Questions to Ask In a Performance Review

In this article:

Companies usually rely on performance reviews questions to receive relevant feedback about their employees' performance. However, some managers lack knowledge about supporting a performance conversation.

But before jumping to what performance review questions are the most suitable for effective professional development, let's get some deeper insights into how personal goals and employee engagement affect one's ability to do their job effectively.

In this article, we share 32 of the best performance review questions to ask, along with potential responses to expect.

Performance Review Questions: Basic competencies

The list of essential competencies for this particular position usually includes very technical skills for software engineers. For example, their current role may include Python knowledge, Java coding skills, and FrontEnd development responsibilities. These employee strengths should be the primary focus during the performance review meeting.

Getting valuable and actionable feedback will significantly help your employee to enjoy a smoother career path, as well as align them to your company's mission. Performance management is crucial for career growth and organizations working with juniors have a lot of stress on their shoulders. Offering quality improvement plans for their employees is usually its most significant challenge.

Finding out the best performance review questions you can use during the performance review process requires an in-depth understanding of your employee's core responsibilities. Suppose your software engineer is expected to Create and optimize information systems by creating, framing, and installing software solutions, but they make complex software that is not optimized. In that case, you can mark their core responsibility as Partially completed.

Some of the most effective employee review questions to ask during the next performance review session to help your company succeed and make your job easier are:

  • Does the employee completely fulfill their core responsibilities?
  • Does the employee follow deadlines?
  • Does the employee deliver effective and optimized code blocks?
  • Does the employee stick to the customer's main intention?
  • Does the employee forget about the Tweaking phase and deliver bugged content?

Performance Review Questions: Interpersonal skills

Communicating with other people involved in your work life effectively helps employees get to the optimal results faster and pave their way towards the next position. As responsibilities change from time to time, employees must communicate with their managers about the important goals of their job. Having them get a detailed explanation of how they should improve their performance and personal strengths.

Communication skills are also crucial for getting valuable insights from a manager or conducting informal conversations with other team members to get more insight. All professionals operating in the HR field know the importance of interpersonal competencies that help any employee achieve their ideal working conditions inside a team.

Depending on the current role your employee performs in, the most effective performance review questions you should ask when aiming at efficient professional development are:

  • Does the employee proactively reply to the business-related announcements?
  • Does the employee make sure people in charge understand when they run into a bottleneck?
  • Does the employee suggest workarounds when coming into a problem?
  • Does the employee effectively communicate identified issues?
  • Does the employee have trouble discussing business-related aspects with stakeholders?

Performance Review Questions: Additional effort

Any performance review should include a section called Additional effort. Many employees seek professional growth opportunities by going the extra mile and enhancing their performance on the job. Regardless of their current role, these employees do additional work to make your job easier as a manager.

This is something you want to discuss during the performance reviews in the next quarter. When it comes to performance management, extra effort should always be rewarded, as long as it is efficient instead of time-consuming. Managers rewarding effective employees might generate a mass movement among other team members.

For example, people seeing that others are rewarded based on their extra effort will usually develop an unconscious desire to get socially recognized during the performance reviews in the next quarter. Therefore, some of the most effective performance review questions to include in any future feedback  are:

  • Does the employee volunteer for additional tasks?
  • Does the employee get involved in company-wide activities (such as recruiting)?
  • Does the employee help new hires get comfortable with their job and focus on what matters?
  • Does the employee react to feedback offered by their direct manager?
  • Does the employee discuss their professional perspective (hope, desires, objectives)?

Performance Review Questions: Improvement suggestions

Any manager offering feedback to their employees should focus on future actions to improve their performance. Coming up with only a list of negative things your subordinates do and forgetting about the most crucial part of performance management will only result in lower engagement among your employees.

After analyzing all the performance review questions, you must identify ways your subordinates can improve their effectiveness and efficiency at work. Maybe there is a course they can attend during the next quarter or perhaps they should come up with a relevant follow-up question after receiving feedback.

Any manager should focus on the future aspect of their company instead of remaining anchored in the previous mistakes their subordinates made. However, identifying improvement methods may take you a lot of time and thorough research and understanding of your engineers' situations.

Some of the suggestions you can include in the subsequent performance evaluation of your team include:

  • Technical competencies courses (Java, Python, C#, etc.);
  • Interpersonal and communication courses;
  • Career courses;
  • Management training.

Performance Review Questions: Productivity

One of the key aspects of any performance review is to determine the touchpoints that can be improved or fixed to boost employee’s productivity. This can depend on individual qualities or teamwork. In such a case, it is crucial to have some core questions directly linked to the factor of productivity:

  • Describe the expectations that you had for this person over the performance period. To what extent did they meet these expectations?
  • What are 1-2 things this employee could do to increase their impact?
  • What could this person do differently to be more impactful in the future?
  • What’s an area in which you’d like to see this person improve? Please provide examples from the last X months.

 

At this point, the questions above establish a particular threshold between what is expected of an employee and what happens in reality. Moreover, when going over the expectation part, one should focus on the employee’s performance in a particular period of time with an emphasis on how well a person meets the goals set on the job. To do that, use the following performance review questions:

  • To what extent did this person meet their performance goals in the last X months? Please provide examples.
  • How well did this person manage their workload in the last X months? Please provide examples.
  • How well did this person adapt to changing priorities in the last X months? Please provide examples.
  • Overall, how would rate this person's performance over the past 6 months (Below expectations, Meets expectations, Exceeds expectations, Greatly exceeds expectations, Truly outstanding)

 

The final segment of productivity-related performance review questions is all about strengths and weaknesses. Namely, it is important to understand why an employee underperforms and why in certain situations or areas they show great performance. To figure that out, consider these performance review questions:

 

  • What are 2-3 things that this person can start or stop doing in order to be more effective, or help make them more successful?
  • What are 1-3 things that this person should continue doing?
  • What is the most valuable thing you have learned from this person in the last X months?
  • What are some things [Name] does well?
  • How could [Name] improve?
  • Looking back over the past 6 months, what have they excelled at, and in addition, how did they contribute to the team's success?
  • Looking back over the past 6 months, where do you think are their areas of improvement
  • What are 1-2 strengths this employee demonstrates that positively contribute to the company’s success?
  • What are 1-2 things this employee could do to increase their impact?

 

Keeping these questions in mind, you can cover all the areas linked to productivity. It starts with the expectations, proceeds to the employee performance in a particular period of time, and ends with strengths, weaknesses, and points of improvement. These are key to unleash employee’s productivity.  

Tips for the performance review meeting

When it comes to conducting a performance review 1-on-1 meeting, several factors will increase the overall quality of the feedback. First things first, you should always address aspects gradually. Do not just skip to numbers. Try to create an organizational background and integrate your employee's work into it.

Addressing salary-related issues is also quite important. Having a happy employee paid according to their performance is a crucial aspect you should be aware of. What is more, an underpaid employee will spend more time looking for a well-paid job rather than focusing on their tasks for your company.

FAQ: Questions to ask in a performance review

What questions should I ask in a performance review?

When conducting a performance review, there is no set of specific questions you should ask. However, depending on the field your company is operating in (such as Software Development), you might want to opt for some subject-specific questions. For example, you should include questions similar to Does the employee deliver optimized code?

What questions should I ask during my annual review?

The annual review is part of the 360-degree review. Many companies take advantage of the 360-degree review approach. Such an approach offers the most effective type of evaluation, offering the opportunity to improve your employee's competencies and determine the most critical improvement areas. If you are the reviewed peer during a specific feedback process, some questions you might want to ask are:

  • What expectations am I meeting and what expectations am I not meeting?
  • How are you measuring my personal progress?
  • What competencies should I develop to help the team grow?
  • What can I do to make your job easier?
    What should I discuss during the performance review?

 During your performance meeting, you should discuss work and individual goals. It is best to address the business things first and then switch to individual ones. Try to integrate your employee's accomplishments into the organizational workflow. What is more, discuss factual aspects, such as percentages and the reasons behind the numbers.

What should I ask my manager during the performance review?

When asking your questions during the performance 1-on-1 meeting, make sure you address all the individual issues. For example, if you want to discuss a potential rise in your salary, this is the perfect time to do just that. Also, make sure to address the numbers that summarize your performance - how many projects you delivered during the review period, how many of them were marked as Great by your customers, how you increased your performance from the last evaluation period, and so on and so forth.

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