Conducting successful performance reviews requires you to do much more than simply have a one-on-one discussion with your employee. Successful performance reviews require Human Resources to work in conjunction with managers to gain insight into performance. This requires performance reviews to be structured, it can’t just be a free for all conversation. And structure requires asking the right questions.

Part of the ultimate goal of the conversation should be to uncover what an employee feels their strengths are and then align them with the mission of the company. This helps to empower the employee to develop continuously. But to do this there are some essential questions that you will need to ask of your employee.

When conducting a good performance review, steer clear of mediocre or generic questions such as how would you rate your performance? Or are you happy in your current role? These questions don’t really help to structure the conversation in any beneficial way for an employee. Really, you’re just gauging how they view their own performance rather than helping them grow, learn, and strive for better.

Instead of asking these types of generic questions, you want to ask questions more along the lines of:

  • Which goals did you meet? Which goals fell short?
  • What made to boots you to get your job done?
  • What can we do to make your job more enjoyable?

Of course, during the performance review, you want to ask a lot of questions of your employee. You need to get a very good and well-rounded idea of where they think they are, where they’re going, and how happy they are with their role in the company. Asking the right types of questions and framing them in the right way is critically important because the wrong questions will yield the wrong answers. The above questions are examples of good overall questions to ask in a performance review, but if you really want to get down to the nitty-gritty and the more detailed questions, and the reasons why you should ask them, keep reading.

employee performance review questions

Ask Questions to Uncover Strengths

Performance reviews should always be focused more on the strengths of the employee than their weaknesses. You never want to go into a performance review with a negative mindset and talking about weaknesses is one way to get your employee defensive and feeling down. Of course, there will be a time to address things that they can improve, but the primary focus should be their strengths. Helping employees to recognize their own strengths is often correlated with overall higher performance. Once you start to delve into talk of what an employee thinks they do well, you may notice that it’s very common for them to have difficulty identifying their strengths. In order to address this, you can ask questions specifically targeted towards getting the employee to determine what their own strengths are. By finding out what the unique strengths of each employee, is you can then leverage them to your advantage. Try asking questions like:

    • What do you believe are your best strengths and how does your role help those strengths show?
    • Since your last poor performance review, what are some of your proudest achievements and why?
  • What do you enjoy the most about your role and what parts could be better?
  • What are some strengths that you would like to improve before your next performance review?

Use Questions to Align the Employees Goals with the Company’s Mission

It’s great if your employee has their own goals, but if they don’t align with the company’s mission overall, it’s not really going to benefit you. A lot of employees feel very deeply connected to the company they work for and they strive to make an impact within that company. This means that many employees will be intrinsically motivated to work hard and further their careers within the organization. One of the best ways to align employee goals and create intrinsic motivation is to connect your employees’ individual passions with the purpose of the company. If the employee feels personally invested and like their work makes a difference, they are much more likely to strive for the best. Try asking these questions in your performance review:

  • What are some personal goals that you strive for outside work? What are you most passionate about within the company?
  • Before your next performance review, what type of accomplishments would you like to achieve that will impact the company?

Help Employees Identify Their Ideal Career Path

Employees are more likely to stay with the company in the long term if they feel that that organization is invested in helping them. You may not be able to personally craft individualized experiences for every employee, but you can help create a personalized performance review for them. During that performance review, you can help employees to map out what their dream career path would be and also empower them and motivate them to work towards that career path. To do this, try asking questions such as:

  • What are your long-term and short-term career goals?
  • What’s something that you could focus on in the short run that will help you get closer to achieving your ideal career?
  • What’s your ideal job title and what responsibilities would it entail?

Performance reviews are no easy feat, particularly doing them successfully. If you’ve ever undergone a performance review or conducted one yourself, you know how daunting they can be. Going into a performance review, however well intended, without structure and without asking the right questions of your employees won’t give you the best results. Performance reviews should be largely future-focused, should focus on an employee’s strengths, and should help them map out their goals within the company and their future career. Ultimately, you want to focus on ways that you can align the employee’s personal goals with the mission of the company to help them develop continuously and strive towards accomplishing their best work.