59 Best Performance Review Questions to Turn Your Employees into Peak Performers
Performance reviews are critical for identifying employees' strengths, weaknesses, and development opportunities.
But without the right questions, the performance review process can feel like a waste of time.
Bluntly put, your performance review will fail if the questions aren't relevant – no matter how motivated your team is.
But do you struggle to identify the right questions to ask? If so, you're not alone.
We've got you covered with this article. You'll learn the best performance review questions and, most importantly, why you should include them in your process.
Find 59 of the best performance review questions to help you turn your employees into peak performers and make your performance review process more impactful and rewarding.
📏 What should you measure in a performance review?
There are four essential qualities to measure in an employee performance review.
Skills: This area measures the employee's capability to perform their tasks. It also includes "softer" values like communication skills.
Strengths: Measures the employee's performance more generally than skills. For example, the ability to meet deadlines and problem-solving. Teamwork also falls under strengths.
Behaviors: Reliability is essential – do their actions match their words? Can you trust them? Also, what is their attitude toward change and challenges? Finally, how do they treat their colleagues?
Outcomes: This category focuses on the results of the work. Is it well done? Is it efficient?
⚖️ For even more insights, check out our in-depth resources for measuring employee performance and evaluating manager performance.
❓39 Performance review questions for your next evaluation
Here's our vault of performance review questions. Enjoy!
🆚 Scaled vs. open-ended questions
The opinions differ on whether to use ratings/scales or stick to open-ended questions. The latter requires more effort and can make it harder to compare employees.
Scaled questions have the advantage of fairness and simplicity but lack the clarity comments can give.
At its worst, questions with scale can be discouraging and confusing.
Our learning scientists recommend the scientifically developed Likert Scale Response Options, where the different scales are tailored to fit different types of questions.
For example, "my beliefs," "level of importance," and "frequency of use." We recommend sticking to 5 options per question. The questions in our performance review software are based on the Likert Scale.
📊 Overall job performance questions
- How did you contribute to reaching the current company goals? (For example: closing more sales, launching a new marketing campaign)
- How well did you meet deadlines?
- How would you estimate your time management skills and their impact on your overall performance?
- Do you have what you need to perform at your best?
- What do you hope to achieve before our next performance review?
💪 Employee strengths questions
- What's one example of when you contributed positively to the team culture?
- What type of projects do you excel at?
- What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
- What among your various tasks comes easiest to you?
- What skills do you think makes you a valuable employee?
Focusing on strengths gives a positive touch to performance reviews. However, research also shows that focusing on strengths will improve performance more than focusing on weaknesses.
💪 Learn how to run strength-based performance appraisals and why your entire organization will benefit from this approach.
🧐 Questions for areas of improvement
1. Considering your role, your strengths, and our team goals, what should you focus on the most in the coming months?
Motivation: This is a more positive way of highlighting where there's room for improvement. Since it includes the word "my strengths," it is more motivating than focusing on what went wrong.
2. What are you committed to doing differently during the coming evaluation period?
Motivation: By focusing on change and forward movement, this question creates awareness around necessary behavior changes in a more positive way.
3. Which goals fell short and why?
4. How can we support you to help you reach your goals?
🔮 7 Current and future career outlook questions
1. Are you happy with your current role? Do you feel motivated?
Motivation: A question that assesses job satisfaction and how lack of motivation could be tied to daily tasks.
2. What do you like the least about the job responsibilities in your current role?
3. What would you change in your current position?
Motivation: To pinpoint areas of employee enablement and potential new career paths.
4. What would you want your next position in this company to be? How would your responsibilities change?
Motivation: To check their desired career path and what support and training they'd need to get there.
5. What are your personal and professional goals?
Motivation: It can be easy to assume everyone wants a promotion. Some employees may be happy with learning a new skill, joining a project, or getting a mentor – something this question will help clarify.
6. What do you hope to do in the company a year from now? Five years from now?
7. What do you hope to accomplish during the coming year/evaluation period?
👨💼 Questions on the manager-employee relationship
- What concerns do you have about giving me feedback? How can I alleviate them?
- What's your preferred way of receiving feedback/getting acknowledged for your work?
- What do I do that helps you perform better? What could I change to support you further?
- What suggestions do you have for me to evolve as a leader?
💬 Employee feedback, mentorship, and training questions
1. What training do you wish you had/would you like to have?
Motivation: This question can be instrumental in evaluating your future training needs.
2. [Directed at managers] What career options do you see for this employee based on their strengths and career goals?
Motivation: Something an employee can ask their manager to explore suitable options. Note: This is a question we've borrowed from Cisco.
📡 Copy Cisco's feedback process – we offer you a step-by-step guide.
3. What would colleagues or clients say about their recent interactions with you?
4. Do you feel the team is collaborating well?
5. Do you trust your team members?
6. What do you enjoy the most about working at our company?
🏢 Questions about the company culture and values
- What company values do you embody?
- Is your manager a good representative of the company's values?
- How well do you adhere to the company culture?
- Would you change something about the company culture? How?
- What is the company's definition of success?
😔 Employee weaknesses questions
1. What impact do you believe your development areas have on your current work?
Motivation: A diplomatic way of connecting the dots and showing how the development areas may reduce overall performance. Note: this question comes from Cisco's performance review process.
2. Where do you think there's room to improve?
3. What can you do differently in the future to avoid repeating mistakes?
🏆 9 Best performance review questions you can't miss
1. What motivates you to get your job done?
Motivation: This question encourages employees to become aware of how motivation contributes to their performance.
2. What accomplishments are you most proud of during the last evaluation period?
Motivation: Instead of asking, "are you happy with your performance" this formulation invites reflection and asks employees to come up with concrete examples to motivate their response.
3. [Peer-to-peer or Employee-Manager] What unique strength have you noticed in your peer?
Motivation: People tend to be unaware of their strengths and need them mirrored back to fully leverage them. This question helps build self-awareness.
4. What strengths do you feel you haven't got to use yet in your role?
Motivation: With this question, you'll identify untapped potential benefiting your employees and company!
5. [Peer-to-peer] How would you describe your peer to a friend?
Motivation: Sometimes, more "casual" questions can help remove pressure and have employees speak more freely.
6. [Upward feedback] How do you evaluate your manager's capacity to listen, make decisions, and motivate the team?
Motivation: These are some of the essential qualities of a manager.
"You just need to equip your managers with effective questions that remove the personal element and get to the heart of what high performance looks like.
Here are my personal favorite:
1. Is my direct report ultimately freeing up my time or making my job harder?
2. If I were to open the role today, knowing what I know now about my direct report’s performance and ability, would I hire them again?
3. What would happen if my direct report turned in their resignation today? Would I panic or be relieved?" Melanie Naranjo, VP of People at Ethena.
💼 13 Best performance review questions for assessing managers
Is your manager present, attending meetings, and modeling strong work ethics? Please give examples.
Motivation: Research on what makes great or terrible managers has shown that employees view these qualities among the most important for a competent manager.
Are they enthusiastic and passionate about the work?
Motivation: A team is only as motivated as its manager. One of the manager's duties is to lead by example and motivate the employees to do a great job – from within rather than imposed.
Are you satisfied with the amount of feedback you get? If not, how would you like it to change?
Motivation: Many times, employees might want more feedback. At the same time, managers are prone to reduce feedback to allocate time to productive work. So, clarifying your people's expectations over receiving feedback is important.
Does your manager clearly communicate team goals?
Motivation: Clear communication is another crucial quality in a manager.
What are the top 3 things your manager could do to make your work easier and more fun?
Motivation: Fun is one of the greatest motivators! This question requires a concrete answer, which provides invaluable feedback for the manager to improve.
When have you observed your manager at their best? Under what circumstances?
Motivation: This question can be a confidence boost encouraging employees to do more of what they're good at.
How well does your manager adapt to changing priorities and business goals?
Are they seeking to stay objective in conflicts and get more information before jumping to conclusions?
Do they reward and celebrate employee wins?
- What would you recommend your manager keeps doing?
- Any tips on how your manager could improve?
- Give an example of a specific situation your manager handled well.
- Give an example of an area where your manager could improve.
- Does your manager show kindness and compassion towards others?
💼 Check out our additional feedback questions for leadership for more inspiration.
🕵️♀️ What kinds of questions should you include in your performance reviews?
A well-rounded performance review contains a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions. Collecting qualitative data gives a more comprehensive assessment of an employee's performance. Plus, it strikes a balance between feedback related to profit and people – the hard and soft skills.
More specifically, qualitative data helps to identify specific behaviors or skills that may contribute to a particular area of success or difficulty. Plus, quantitative data can help indicate how significant the problem or opportunity is regarding overall performance or impact on the organization.
A great example is Netflix – they run performance reviews with a performance-driven focus. They don't measure performance for measurement's sake but to learn and take action.
In addition, employees are encouraged to "give [qualitative] feedback to as many colleagues as they choose at any level in the organization - not just direct reports, line managers, or a few teammates who have invited input." Reed Hasting, No Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention.
The kinds of questions you should include in a performance review are:
Self-review questions. Self-evaluation is a crucial element in any performance review. It helps increase self-awareness and promotes individual accountability and responsibility.
Some example categories:
- Overall performance
- Personal strengths
- Ares of improvement
- Current role fit
- Future perspective
Questions for downward feedback (manager-employee). Downward feedback is probably what most people associate with performance reviews.
Feedback from managers to employees is relevant since it is a foundation for promotions and salary negotiations.
- Company values: How well the employee complies with company values and models the mission statement.
- Core competencies
- Alignment with goals
- Personal growth
- Quality of work
- Problem-solving skills
Upward feedback (employee-manager). As the saying goes, good employees leave bad managers.
Upward feedback is thus a crucial part of the performance review process. Learning what people think about their managers can help you take proactive steps toward reducing employee turnover.
Peer feedback. Peer feedback helps understand how well the employee collaborates within the team. Colleagues often have more accurate insight into each other's daily work performance, communication, and collaboration skills than managers.
Consider mixing open-ended questions with rating-based ones for a comprehensive picture.
💡 7 Reasons why asking the right performance review questions matters
Why the right performance review questions matter to employees
Ensuring fairness and objectivity are crucial for your performance reviews. Asking the right questions can ensure that.
You need to ensure employee evaluations link to their performance – not their relationship with the manager or colleagues, how much they talk, or who has the bubbliest personality.
The right questions help employees self-reflect and uncover opportunities for improvement. That's why we recommend frequent reviews that illuminate problems early and help guide the necessary actions.
Employees may feel more motivated to do a great job when they know the questions in the performance review will illuminate their results.
Why the right performance review questions matter to managers
When you have the right questions to ask in a performance review, you can quickly discover the strengths of the reviewee – which your teams can use to their benefit.
For example, someone with mentorship skills can become a new-hire mentor.
However, without proper performance reviews and relevant questions, it can be easy to miss this valuable insight.
The right questions help ensure transparency and align employees with company goals.
Performance review questions for employees reveal professional growth opportunities and training needs.
For example, if many employees score low in an area, you might want to prioritize group training. Or, if one employee gets constructive feedback from multiple people about one particular aspect, you'd consider arranging individual training. Pro tip: an employee enablement platform makes it easier to tailor your training programs to support the professional growth of each employee!
Why the right performance review questions matter to organizations
Successful performance reviews are a way of investing in your people.
Nowadays, people are the real estate of businesses. If you don't care about your employees, they will leave for your competitors.
When you ask the right performance review questions, your people feel seen, valued, and motivated to perform better.
The proper performance review questions can positively impact employee retention, morale, engagement, and productivity.
➡️ Drive high performance and growth with Zavvy
The right performance review questions can turn your evaluations into turbo fuel that transforms employees into motivated peak performers.
But creating review forms and selecting the right questions can be tedious.
That's where Zavvy enters the picture!
Zavvy helps drive performance in your workplace and simplify your key people processes.
Our performance review software enables you to create custom reviews that strengthen your workforce and drive business results.
Schedule your demo to see all the benefits you can enjoy and all the time you can save.