The performance appraisal period isn’t one that’s largely enjoyed by employees or managers alike. While a performance review should be structured as a constructive conversation, it’s not uncommon for your manager’s questions and comments to come across as harsh criticism or confrontation.
If you’re wondering what to say in a performance review, you’re not alone. According to Harvard Business Review, only 42% of employees trust their managers, so it’s understandable that you might be concerned about your manager using your comments against you. And, with 74% of employees saying that the performance review process isn’t helpful, it’s not surprising that you wonder whether your employee evaluation comments matter at all.
Performance Management should focus on strengths & help employees develop these, rather than weaknesses.
Unfortunately, the performance appraisal process will always be here to stay. Whether that’s in an annual, quarterly, or even monthly appraisal system, it’s worth looking at employee review questions and answers to understand how best to present yourself and your accomplishments during a performance review.
With that in mind, here are some tips to help you craft some employee performance appraisal sample answers.
Preparing for Your Performance Review
Many employees think that they don’t need to prepare any materials ahead of time for their performance review, which usually leaves them struggling to come up with an answer for even the most common performance review phrases.
When you know your performance review is coming up, it’s worth getting together any supporting documentation you can think of that will help you to present your performance and achievements over the last review period.
These could be:
- Emails from colleagues, managers, or people from other departments giving you positive feedback
- Statistical information gathered from company software about how well your projects have performed
- Comments gathered during presentations or other reviews
It’s also worth having your previous review documentation in hand, so you can use previous comments and goals to demonstrate your progress.
Check Your KPIs/Goals
Almost every organization that has a performance review process uses KPIs, goals, or some other metric that tells employees what their performance will be evaluated against. Depending on previous experience with performance reviews, you may or may not already have an idea of what questions you’ll be asked.
Either way, it’s worth reminding yourself of your KPIs, goals, and company expectations for your job role before your review. That way, you’ve got time to look at some performance review examples and employee review questions and answers to prepare yourself for common and organization-specific questions.
Perform a Self-Evaluation
If your organization has a list of company goals and KPIs that you’re measured against, then this puts you in a great position to self-evaluate your performance. Not only can this help you to come up with answers for your performance review ahead of time, but it’s also a great way to show your boss that you’re proactive about your development.
During your self-evaluation, it’s important that you’re critical of your own performance and honest about areas you need to improve on. It’s understandable that you may want to explain away your shortcomings with reasons that demonstrate you had little control over the situation, but you should also be honest with yourself about if there was anything you could have done better.
Things to Avoid in Your Performance Appraisal
When you’re preparing for your appraisal and you already have some employee self-evaluation sample answers in mind, you need to understand that there are some key things to avoid during your performance appraisal.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to simply say things like “my project performed above expectations”. When you’re discussing your performance with your manager, you need to be specific, both about your behavior and the outcome.
So, a more specific answer would sound like “During the project I worked closely with manufacturing. So the product was designed with our tooling processes in mind. This meant that we ended up producing x amount of product ready for launch, which is x% more than our original estimations.”
Comparing Yourself to Other Employees
If your behavior has come into question, then it can be tempting to defend yourself by comparing your behavior to that of your coworkers or other employees. However, not only does this look bad on you, but it can also create a rift in your team or department.
Always remember that during your performance review, it’s your performance that’s being discussed and no-one elses.
Examples of Great Performance Appraisal Answers to Common Questions
Below, we list out six examples of common performance appraisal questions and answers that are strong, well-structured, and help managers get a better understanding of employee contributions. Take a look, or jump to a certain question using this list:
- What was your greatest accomplishment during the last review period?
- What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
- What are your long- and short-term career goals?
- Which goals didn’t you meet, and why?
- Which part of your job is your favorite?
- How could you contribute more to the company?
1. What was Your Greatest Accomplishment During the Last Review Period?
As part of the appraisal process, your manager will always want to know what you consider to be your biggest achievement since your last performance appraisal.
The biggest mistake most people make with this question is they assume that their manager remembers not only all of the projects that the team are working on, but everyone’s individual involvement. Regardless of if you’re in daily contact with your manager or you rarely see them, it’s best to make sure that your answer to this question contains enough context for them to understand how your behavior led to a success or accomplishment.
Project: Last year, our team started work on a project to design a new range of activity books for children.
Goal: During our initial design phase, we knew that we wanted to focus on a cut-out-and-stick activity, as this isn’t something that was currently in our range.
Problem: However, previous feedback from parents showed that they wanted activity books that they could complete with their children, which is something we knew our previous range didn’t encourage.
Proposed solution: So, I suggested that we design this range to encourage cooperative play. We came up with a design that bundled child-safe scissors and non-toxic glue with books of themed scenery – like a farm, or a zoo – with simple shapes to cut out in a separate book.
Result: Since launch, we’ve received positive feedback from parents who love these activity books, their educational value, and the time they get to spend together with their children.
Statistics: Compared to our previous launch, we sold 20% more units in the first weekend, and sales remain consistently ahead of previous ranges.
2. What was the Biggest Challenge You’ve Faced?
This question gives you a great opportunity to ask your manager for additional support in your job, provided that you frame your answer to this question well. The chances are that your manager is already asking this question to find out what areas you need to improve on, so make sure to use this to highlight what you want to work on.
With this, you should always remember not to point the blame on other employees, compare yourself to your coworkers, or generally appear to be “passing the buck” in anyway. While some circumstances may be outside of your control, you should always discuss what you can do to improve.
“When Jane was let go three months ago, I was tasked with ordering the office supplies in her stead. However, I’ve found it challenging to fit this responsibility into my schedule alongside our department’s tight deadlines, and on multiple occasions, I forgot to reorder items that were requested. I think the process of restocking office supplies could be organized better with an online request form, but unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to explore this option myself”
3. What are Your Long and Short-Term Career Goals?
Once you’ve mapped out your performance goals for the next review period, your manager might ask you what you want to achieve in your career or during your time with the company. This gives you the chance to highlight the areas you personally want to improve on, whether that’s learning a new skill, taking a new qualification, or working towards a promotion.
When you answer this question, make sure you emphasize how important your development will be to the company. So, if you want to pursue a new qualification, you could mention that you think there’s a skills gap in your department.
“In 2021, I’d like to take an advanced qualification in IT management. Of the 20 people in our department, only one other person has this qualification, so I think I can help to fill that skills gap by taking this exam”
4 Which Goals Didn’t You Meet, and Why?
This question isn’t just asking you to be accountable for falling short, but it also helps your manager to identify any gaps in your knowledge that they need to support you with. It’s your manager’s job to support you, so it’s important to answer this question honestly, and emphasize any areas that you need additional support in.
There are a wide range of reasons why you might not have met a goal, all of which can range from personal circumstances to company-wide changes that you have no control over. If you’re comfortable with talking about the reasons behind why you didn’t achieve your goal, it’s best to be honest. This demonstrates not only that you want to hold yourself accountable, but also that you know when to ask for support when you need it.
“I didn’t meet my goal of closing 100 tickets this month because I received multiple tickets that were outside of my current knowledge base. While I closed those tickets eventually with support from my colleagues, I think I would benefit from taking a course in IT support so I have the knowledge to handle complex tickets”
5. Which Part of Your Job is Your Favorite?
Most of the time, this feels like a trick question. However, managers genuinely want to know what their employees are passionate about and interested in, so in the future, they can assign you work that they know will work to your strengths.
It’s important to answer this question honestly, but it’s entirely possible that you’ve lost some passion for the tasks you used to enjoy. In this case, you can mention to your manager that something used to be your favorite, but changes in the company means that you no longer have any passion for it.
“I used to love solving tickets for the Accounting department because I have a background in this type of software. However since the IT team changed so we don’t have set departments that we respond to, I don’t get to use my software expertise to close tickets”
6. How Could You Contribute More to the Company?
This question gives you the chance to approach your larger career goals, even if that involves taking on a role in a different department. Whether you want to take on a set role in your team or want to discuss a career change, this question opens the possibility to discuss that with your manager.
Plus, if you’ve spotted a business need for your skills and want to demonstrate your proactivity, then this question gives you the ability to talk about how you can help your company in the future.
“Given that I have a background in SaaS, I’d like to help the company explore options for creating SaaS software that compliments our products and services. I believe that our clients would greatly benefit from this, and I already have some ideas as to how I could lead this project”
Performance Appraisal Answers: In Summary
While it’s not always clear-set which questions you’ll be asked in your performance appraisal, there are certain questions that will commonly arise during your meeting. Knowing the right way of answering these questions can help you stand out in the workplace and impress your manager, as well as demonstrate your proactivity and professionalism. It’s a good idea to prepare answers to these questions ahead of time, as this can help you to avoid feeling anxious and flustered during your performance appraisal.
Profit.co’s Performance management
Once you have prepared for your performance appraisal, you can feel confident that you’ll be ready to answer all questions your manager asks. Before COVID, performance reviews would commonly be conducted in-person. Given the remote and hybrid nature of modern business, however, it’s likely that your manager will send along a performance appraisal using a performance management software.
Profit.co’s OKR management software and performance management software supports completely customizable performance reviews, including question-and-answer based reviews, skill or competency-based reviews, as well as peer reviews.
Depending on the type of information your HR team wants to collect, you’ll get a review that is conversation and feedback-based, or rating based. Conversation and feedback reviews, referred to as standard reviews in the Profit.co software, allow HR administrators to customize a collection of open-ended questions. The reviewed employee has ample time and space to answer these questions, and can offer up specific examples or notes on their performance. This written component can be incredibly helpful to the employee as they think through the projects they have participated in throughout the review period.
On the other hand, affinity-based reviews are reliant on competency rating scales to help quantify employee skills and attributes. This type of review is commonly used when conducting a 360-degree review that includes peer reviewers. Employees can complete their self-assessment and leave specific comments beneath each rating to remind managers of specific instances where they demonstrated their skills. Peer reviewers and managers then complete their own evaluation of the employee’s performance, offering multiple perspectives.
Performance reviews in Profit.co are organized, detailed, and beneficial for all team members involved, from HR administrators to review employees.