45+ Best Performance Review Questions To Ask

Performance evaluations and reviews are critical for fostering employee growth, development, and engagement. Research shows that employees are three times more engaged when they receive daily feedback from their managers than those receiving feedback once a year or less.

If you want your employees to feel that you support them in doing their best work, celebrate their strengths, and can provide constructive feedback to help develop areas for improvement, you need to know how to ask the right questions. But performance conversations aren’t always easy.

In this article, we’ll tackle how to ask effective performance review questions and offer a comprehensive list of questions covering a number of categories, including overall performance, employee strengths, areas of improvement, professional growth, company culture, and teamwork.

By the end of this article, you’ll better understand how to approach the performance review process and the types of questions you can ask to foster growth and development within your team.

How to ask good performance review questions

Over 90% of employees said they’d like to receive feedback more than once a year. Conventional annual performance review cycles are unable to meet the changing expectations of the modern workforce..

To help adapt to this shift, managers need to learn how to ask the right performance review questions to promote employee development and engagement. The best questions for an employee performance review can help employees reflect on their strengths, areas for improvement, and overall performance.

To ask the right employee evaluation questions, focus on the primary goal of promoting employee development. By fostering a constructive and open environment, you can encourage employees to reflect on their strengths, areas for improvement, and professional growth. When asking performance review questions, aim to balance closed and open-ended questions to gather comprehensive feedback and insights.

Closed questions help gather specific data points and confirm understanding. In contrast, open-ended questions allow employees to elaborate on their experiences and bring up new ideas and opportunities.

When asking performance review questions, remember to:

  • Be clear and concise. Ensure your questions are easy to understand and focus on specific aspects of the employee’s performance.
  • Stay relevant. Ask questions relevant to the employee’s role, responsibilities, and professional and personal goals.
  • Encourage self-reflection. Phrase your questions in a way that encourages employees to reflect on their performance, identify areas for improvement, and provide growth opportunities.
  • Foster open communication. Regular check-ins and follow-ups are an important part of the review cycle. Create a comfortable work culture where employees can honestly share their thoughts and concerns.
  • Address both strengths and weaknesses. Discuss the employee’s achievements and areas needing support or improvement.
  • Be prepared. Review the employee’s goals, achievements, and past feedback before the meeting to ensure your questions are relevant and well-informed.
  • Focus on the employee’s perspective. Ask questions that encourage employees to share their thoughts and feelings about their performance—this can provide valuable insight into their motivations and areas for improvement.

Importance of asking the right questions

Regular feedback can help employees feel more engaged at work. Engagement is the key to unlocking personal growth and company success. Companies in the top quartile for engaged employees are 23% more profitable and experience 18% less turnover than their bottom-quartile counterparts.

Performance appraisals are an opportunity to compare an employee’s performance against expectations and gain insights into the employee’s perception of their performance. By asking the right questions, you can effectively evaluate your team and learn more about their professional development needs. This, in turn, can help you support their growth and contribute to the company’s overall success.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider:


  • Do ask open-ended questions. Encourage employees to share their thoughts and feelings by asking questions that prompt elaboration, such as “How do you feel about your progress this year?” or “Can you tell me about the biggest challenge you faced and how you overcame it?”
  • Do focus on the future. While you’ll need to address past performance, ask questions about the employee’s goals, ambitions, and plans for professional growth, such as “What new skills would you like to learn?” or “What do you see as your long-term career goals?”
  • Do listen actively. Give your full attention to the employee’s responses, take notes, and ask follow-up questions to show that you value their input and genuinely want to understand their perspective.
  • Do be specific. When discussing performance, use concrete examples and data to clarify your points and help employees understand the context of your questions.
  • Do provide a balanced perspective. Address the employee’s strengths and areas for improvement, and discuss opportunities for growth and development.


  • Don’t ask leading or loaded questions. Avoid questions that might prompt a specific response or put the employee on the defensive, such as “Why do you think you failed in this area?” Instead, use neutral language to encourage open discussion.
  • Don’t focus solely on negative aspects. While a performance appraisal should address areas of improvement, make sure to highlight the employee’s achievements and positive contributions.
  • Don’t rush the conversation. Allocate sufficient time for the performance review, allowing for thorough discussion and reflection on the employee’s performance and development.
  • Don’t make comparisons to other employees. Focus on individual performance and growth rather than comparing them to colleagues.
  • Don’t forget to follow up. After the performance review, summarize the key points discussed, including action items and agreed-on goals, and schedule regular check-ins to monitor progress and provide ongoing support.
Asking the right questions

Effective questions during the employee performance review

The following sections list sample questions in various performance management categories.

Overall performance

Overall performance refers to an employee’s ability to carry out their job responsibilities effectively and contribute to the overall success of the team and organization.

When conducting an employee performance review, you’ll need to assess various aspects of their work, such as their productivity, ability to meet deadlines, teamwork, and adherence to company policies and values, to get the full picture of their overall performance.

Here are some questions you can ask to gauge an employee’s overall performance:

  • How well do you feel you met your goals this year?
  • What were the obstacles you faced in achieving those goals?
  • What were the biggest lessons you learned this year?
  • Can you provide examples of how you contributed to the team’s success?
  • How have you taken feedback and incorporated it into your work?
  • How did you prioritize your tasks and job responsibilities throughout the year?
  • How do you feel your overall performance impacted the organization or department?
  • Are there any areas where you feel you could have done better? If so, what steps will you take to improve in those areas going forward?

Employee strengths

Employee strengths refer to an individual’s abilities, qualities, and skills that allow them to perform their job effectively and excel in their role. These strengths include technical skills, such as programming or design, or soft skills, such as communication, leadership, and problem solving.

During an employee performance review, managers typically evaluate an employee’s strengths to identify areas where they can use their abilities to achieve individual and team goals. Managers can also help employees develop their strengths and acquire new skills to increase their effectiveness and contribution to the team’s success.

Some questions you can ask in this area are:

  • In what areas have you consistently demonstrated high performance, and what led to this success?
  • How have you used your strengths in your current role?
  • What skills have you yet to showcase in your role?
  • What do you think your colleagues value most about your work?
  • How can you leverage your strengths to help the team achieve its goals?
  • What are your most important goals, and how have you worked toward achieving them?
  • Can you provide examples of how you have used your strengths to overcome challenges or obstacles in your role?
  • How can you further develop your strengths to contribute to the team’s success?

Areas of improvement

Areas of improvement are the specific skills, behaviors, or knowledge gaps an employee needs to work on to enhance their performance and effectiveness in their job role. During an employee performance review, managers can help identify these areas to provide feedback and support for professional development.

By working with employees to identify areas of improvement, managers can help create a plan for skills development that can lead to increased job satisfaction, better performance, and growth opportunities.

For instance, employees may need to improve their time management skills to prioritize their workload and meet deadlines. To address this area of improvement, the manager can provide feedback and support, offer training and development opportunities, or provide tools or resources to help the employee improve their time management.

Check out this list of sample questions you can ask to learn more about an employee’s areas of improvement:

  • Which projects or deliverables were you least proud of?
  • What were the areas where you felt you struggled or needed improvement?
  • How will you actively work on those areas in the next year?
  • What kind of support do you need to improve in those areas?
  • Are there any tools or resources you need to improve your own performance?
  • Have you identified any patterns or trends in areas where you need improvement? If so, what are they?
  • In what ways have you sought feedback from colleagues or supervisors to identify areas for improvement?
  • Have you pursued any training or development opportunities to address areas where you need improvement?

Professional growth

Professional growth is an employee’s ongoing development and acquisition of new skills, knowledge, and experiences to enhance their effectiveness in their current job role and achieve their long-term career goals. Managers can help identify and support employees’ professional growth by discussing their career goals and providing feedback and guidance.

For example, an employee may be interested in pursuing a management role within the company. The manager can discuss potential career paths, provide feedback and guidance on areas of improvement, and offer support in acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge to achieve their career goals.

Here are some sample questions managers can ask:

  • What are your career goals for the next year?
  • How do you see yourself progressing within the company?
  • What new skills or knowledge do you want to acquire?
  • What type of support do you need to achieve your career goals?
  • How can the company support you in achieving your professional development goals?
  • In what ways do you believe your current role is helping you work toward achieving your long-term career goals?
  • Do you know the potential career paths that are available to you within the company, and how do they align with your career goals?
  • Have you discussed your career aspirations with your manager or supervisor, and if so, what was their feedback or guidance?

Company culture

Company culture is the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that shape the working environment and the interactions between employees and management. During a performance evaluation, managers can assess the company culture and solicit employee feedback on how it impacts their work experience.

Examples include how the company values employee well-being, fosters inclusivity and diversity, and recognizes and rewards good performance. For instance, an employee may feel the company values don’t align with their values, or they may have suggestions for improving the work culture to support employee well-being and work-life balance. The manager should provide a platform for open communication and feedback and work to address any concerns raised.

These questions can help managers gather information on how the employee views company culture in their workplace:

  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • Do you feel the company values align with your values?
  • Are there any changes you’d like to see in the work culture?
  • How can the company improve employee engagement and retention?
  • Do you feel the company provides adequate recognition and rewards for good performance?
  • How well do you feel the company supports diversity, equity, and inclusion, and what more can be done to foster a more inclusive work environment?
  • How have you seen the company culture evolve or change during your time here, and how has it impacted your work experience?
  • In what ways do you feel the company could better support employee well-being and work-life balance?


Teamwork is working together effectively and efficiently toward a common goal. Effective teamwork enables employees to collaborate and communicate effectively with their team members.

This can include sharing information and resources, providing feedback and support, and resolving conflicts and disagreements constructively and respectfully. For example, an employee may have suggestions for improving communication and collaboration within the team. The manager can work with the employee to identify areas for improvement and provide support and resources to help them improve their communication and collaboration skills.

Here are some questions regarding teamwork and collaboration you can ask:

  • What strategies have you used to collaborate effectively with your team?
  • Have you received adequate support and resources from other team members to complete your tasks?
  • Do you feel your team communicates effectively and transparently?
  • How has your team handled conflicts or disagreements that have arisen?
  • Are there any areas where your team could improve its collaboration or communication?
  • What steps can you take to improve teamwork within the team?
  • What steps can the team take to improve collaboration and communication?
  • How do you think team members can better support each other in achieving shared goals?

Get performance review help with Upwork

Asking the right questions during a performance review is crucial to evaluate employee progress and promote professional development.

However, developing effective performance review questions can be challenging. That’s why businesses often work with performance appraisal specialists on Upwork to help them develop review questions that align with their goals and values.

A performance appraisal specialist creates and implements effective performance review processes within organizations. They deeply understand employee evaluation, goal-setting, and professional development strategies. Their primary role is to design and develop performance review questions and frameworks that align with a company’s goals and values.

If you’re looking for work helping to create effective performance appraisals, Upwork can help you access job opportunities from businesses looking to improve their performance review process. With the demand for performance appraisal specialists on the rise, joining Upwork can be an excellent way for freelancers to expand their skill set and increase their earning potential.

Get started on Upwork today.

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45+ Best Performance Review Questions To Ask
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