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Employees: Prepare to be Reviewed
October 25, 2016


Your boss just told you it is review time, but there is no need to freak out! Most organizations conduct performance reviews, also known as evaluations, at least once per year for all employees. Timing may be based on your hire date, the yearly calendar or the company’s fiscal year. Employers may also conduct mid-year, quarterly or other periodic reviews as needed.

Why are you being reviewed?

It is an opportunity for positive feedback, and reinforcement of critical goals and objectives. Reviews support your employer’s reward and recognition programs and therefore salary and personnel decisions. Reviews also give you an opportunity to provide feedback to your manager, creating a mutual exchange of information.

There should be no surprises during a review! If done correctly, your manager has communicated both praise and constructive criticism throughout the year and isn’t saving it all for evaluation time.

The actual performance evaluation discussion might include:

  1. Self-Assessment
  2. Goals/Objectives Discussion
  3. Questions/Comments

So how should you prepare to be reviewed?

Your boss will schedule a meeting time. They may ask you to submit a self-assessment in advance of the meeting. This self-assessment consists of a summary of the results, outcomes and contributions related to your job expectations, development plan and goals.

Look back at your previous review if applicable. What goals and expectations were set for you, and have you accomplished them? Collect data to demonstrate your progress. If there are some gaps, have a plan to explain what you will do in the future to meet your goals. Be willing to take responsibility for your short-comings. Reflect on how you could have done something better; what is hindering your performance or is there some type of support you need? This discussion could be an easy opener for talking about continuing education opportunities.

Think about appropriate feedback you might provide to your manager if given the chance. It can also be a good time to share ideas or suggestions for the business. PREPARE QUESTIONS for your supervisor, such as:

  • How am I doing relative to your expectations since our last review?
  • Are there some specific areas I should concentrate on?
  • How can I help you achieve your goals as my supervisor?
  • Are there new projects I will be working on in the coming year?
  • How do you feel the company is doing overall?
  • What can I do to help the company achieve their goals?
  • Can you suggest any professional development books or blogs I should read?

If you do prepare a list of questions such as these, consider emailing them to your supervisor one to two days in advance of the review. Not only will this help in planning, it will demonstrate that you are an engaged team member and take the process seriously.

Some managers will even provide you with a hard copy of the evaluation prior to your meeting so you may review and prepare.

The Review

Go into the review meeting with a positive attitude and mentally prepare yourself for some constructive criticism. It is unrealistic to expect a perfect, glowing review. In preparing yourself for the evaluation, you’ve probably identified some areas with room for growth, and hopefully your manager has shared constructive feedback with you as the year progressed. View your performance evaluation as an opportunity for advancement. One of your manager’s responsibilities is to support your development and growth, and this includes sharing areas for improvement.

TAKE NOTES! Bring a copy of your self assessment, previous review and note taking supplies. Don’t bring your cell phone unless you are expecting an emergency call. In such case, let your supervisor know at the start of meeting.

It is important that you understand your manager’s feedback, so ask for specific examples or clarification if they are not given. If your manager gives feedback that you don’t necessarily agree with, try not to be defensive. Ask questions so you can better understand their point of view and hopefully allow for a candid and professional conversation. Don’t give excuses when asked to engage in a solution to improve performance. Getting defensive will not help your cause!

Refrain from trying to advance your image by comparing yourself to coworkers; try to avoid placing the blame on others. On the flip side, if there is a concern about equity of treatment, tread lightly about this during a review. Performance evaluations are really meant to focus on your performance, not that of others in the organization. Try to stay as professional as possible when discussing challenges and expressing concerns.

Don’t randomly mention pay unless it is brought up by your supervisor during the review. If you feel your compensation is inadequate, schedule a separate meeting and give your manager a heads up on the topic you want to discuss. You can then use examples of accomplishments from your review to demonstrate worthiness for a pay increase.

At the conclusion of the review meeting, genuinely thank your supervisor for their time, especially if you feel the discussion was productive and time well spent. A verbal thank you would be appropriate, but you may additionally follow up with an email thanks outlining any action items discussed.

Your manager will probably ask for your signature and date on the performance documentation before it is filed in your personnel file. They will also provide a copy to you—save this so you can refer to it when it is time for your next review.

Set aside some time at home soon after your review to update your resume and professional online profiles. It is the perfect opportunity to outline your accomplishments that were just discussed in your review.

Now get to work! Follow-up on action items and start working towards meeting and exceeding your goals! 

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