7 types of performance review questions that work (and why they do)
As a small business, you can't afford to run performance reviews just for the sake of it. Short on time and resources, you need performance reviews to have a real impact on your team's growth and development.
In my experience, it all boils down to one thing: asking the right performance review questions.
Let's uncover seven types of performance review questions that I've been using since I started as Chief of Staff at Charlie, and see why they're absolute game-changers.
Why are performance review questions so important?
Having regular one-on-one performance reviews with your team members helps ensure that your organisation's goals are aligned. Thoughtful, well-crafted performance review questions help unlock professional growth opportunities and enable your team members to do their best work and keep them engaged with your organisation's values.
This post will break down the different types of performance review questions, and give you some examples of what to say in a performance review.
7 different types of performance review questions
Not all performance review questions are made equal, and each kind serves a different purpose.
A good performance review question has focus and intent and should be made to serve a specific purpose and achieve a certain business goal. They can otherwise be a waste of both your and your team member's time.
Here are some of the different types of questions you may consider building into your performance review process.
1. Goal-oriented questions
Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Goal-oriented questions help make sure that each team member, as well as the team as a whole, stays on course to fulfil your organisation’s goals.
You can think of these questions as a compass or a map, plotting your team members towards the North Star of success, both yours and theirs.
Goal-oriented questions give your team members a target to shoot for, so that they stay motivated, driven, and determined to succeed. Questions like:
- "What were the most significant goals you achieved during this review period?"
- “Which goals were you unable to meet, and why?”
- “What obstacles did you encounter in achieving your goals, and how did you overcome them?”
- “What resources or support could have helped you better achieve your goals?”
- “What are your goal priorities for the next review period?”
2. Rating scale questions
At the end of the day, an employee’s performance in your business ultimately comes down to how they contribute to growing the company’s ROI. Rating scale questions are useful because they’re a quantifiable measure of your team member’s performance that can be measured in terms of numbers in a clear, objective way.
Use rating scale questions as a barometer of your employees’ strengths, skills and potential areas for growth and improvement. They're also useful to you as an HR professional to objectively measure your team member's skill levels concerning their performance.
Consider using these performance review sample questions in your next review:
- “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your communication skills?”
- “How would you rate your ability to meet project deadlines?”
- “On a scale of 1-10, how effectively do you manage your workload?”
- “How would you rate your ability to work in a team?”
- “On a scale of 1-10, how effectively do you handle constructive criticism?”
Just keep in mind: while it's helpful in many ways to assess your team member's performance numerically, it's equally as important to understand the reasons behind each score - and how it can be improved.
3. Competency-based questions
Questions that inquire into the team member’s competency evaluate their ability to do their jobs using their existing experience and skill set.
Competency-based types of questions allow you to critically assess whether the employee you're reviewing can do well in their role, delving into any skills related to their job and identifying potential areas for improvement.
These kinds of questions are also good for providing targeted, constructive feedback and provide a pathway for upskilling and professional development. This way, both you and your team members can highlight what they do well, find actionable ways to improve, and set clear, fair expectations.
Some of the best questions look like these:
- “How effectively do you demonstrate problem-solving skills in your role?”
- “Can you provide an example of when you demonstrated leadership skills?”
- “How well do you adapt to new situations or changes in the workplace?”
- “How effectively do you manage your time and prioritize tasks?”
- “Can you provide an example of a time when you demonstrated strong initiative?”
4. Developmental questions
A team member who feels stagnant in their role is one who is likely looking towards the door.
When an employee or team member doesn’t feel as if their role aligns with their long-term professional and personal goals, their job can quickly become just a paycheck to them.
Developmental questions help align what your team member wants for themselves, and what the company's goals are. They put focus on the future areas of improvement, and open up a dialogue with the employee about their own career path and aspirations, and how your business can help fulfill them.
In this way, developmental questions are a powerful retention tool to help you hold onto your best talent, put your L&D to good use, and a great way to boost employee engagement.
Consider implementing these questions in your next performance review to help your teammates think of their roles as a career they can grow in, rather than a job they clock into:
- “What skills would you like to develop in the next review period?”
- “What kind of training or support do you think would help you improve in your role?”
- “What are your career goals for the next year?”
- “What steps do you plan to take to achieve these goals?”
- “Is there a particular project or responsibility you would like to take on?”
5. Behavioral questions
Soft skills are equally important as hard skills.
An employee may be the best in the business at what they do, but if they don't work well well with others, have big egos, or toxic personalities, or prioritise their career ambitions at the expense of the team, their presence at the organisation may ultimately do more harm than good. That's what behavioural questions help you decide.
Behavioural questions probe deeper than a team member's ability to do their job and assess how well they work under pressure, their teamwork and interpersonal skills, and how well they fit within your team's dynamic and company culture.
Here are some behavioural questions to consider using in your next assessment:
- “Can you provide an example of a time when you effectively managed a conflict in the team?”
- “How do you handle stressful situations or tight deadlines?”
- “Can you provide an example of a mistake you made and how you rectified it?”
- “How do you handle constructive criticism?”
- “Can you provide an example of a time when you went above and beyond in your role?”
6. Self-evaluation questions
Self-knowledge and a clear, undistorted view of who you are and what you are good at is as valuable a trait as any skill you could put on a resume.
Self-evaluation questions reveal any discrepancies between the employee's performance and how they seem themselves. They help team members measure their perceived value and self-confidence against their professional accomplishments and achievements. Questions like these encourage self-analysis and point out areas where the team member being reviewed may believe they need to do better.
Here are some self-evaluation questions to try:
- “What do you believe were your most significant achievements during this review period?”
- “What areas do you feel you need to improve in?”
- “How do you think you contribute to the team and the wider organisation?”
- “What goals would you set for yourself for the next review period?”
That fits perfectly into a strategy of continuous performance management as well – read our guide to find out more.
7. Employee feedback questions
Employee performance reviews are never a two-way street. This isn’t just about you telling the employee what you want from them, but it’s also an opportunity to learn from the people who work alongside you.
The performance review process offers your employees a chance to voice their perspectives on the organisation, on the manager, or in their team. This helps to foster a company culture of transparency and open communication.
This is your opportunity to hear how you can better enable your employees to succeed, how your team members see themselves contributing to the company’s success, and show your team that you’re listening to them.
You can accomplish all of that by asking questions such as:
- “What changes would you suggest to improve our team’s effectiveness?”
- “How could I, as your manager, better support you in your role?”
- “What do you enjoy most about working in this team and company?”
- “What aspects of the company culture do you find most valuable, and which areas could be improved?”
- “What suggestions do you have for improving communication within the team or company?”
Opening the floor to feedback in a meaningful way validates your employees' opinions and shows them that they’re being heard. Make sure you follow-up and try to action at least some of the feedback you receive.
Ramp up your performance reviews with CharlieHR
Unless you're asking the right questions, performance reviews can quickly feel like time-consuming drudgery. You'll make the most out of both your and your employees' time if you ask the right questions, for the right reasons.
When you use performance review software like Charlie , you can create ready-made, expertly-crafted performance review templates specifically made for small businesses.
All of our templates (such as our 360 review template) come with an out-of-the-box set of questions you can customise to fit your needs and business goals, to automate the repetitive slog of running regular performance reviews.
Try CharlieHR for free today, and create the perfect performance review questions so your teammates perform at their peak.
Want to find out more about what is performance management? Have a look at our resources: