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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

30+ Questions That’ll Help You Get the Most Out of Your Performance Review

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Bailey Zelena; SDI Productions/Getty Images

What are you hoping to get out of your next performance review? A raise—or maybe a promotion? Glowing reviews and a perfect five-out-of-five ranking on every category HR asked your manager to review you in?

Well, sure. But even if you have regular one-on-ones with your manager, you likely don’t get the chance to sit down with them, get a brain dump of feedback on your performance, and discuss your longer-term goals very often. So make sure you’re using your review to your maximum advantage by coming prepared with questions.

If you’re not sure what to ask, here are some topics you might want to talk about in your performance review with 34 sample questions.

Performance review questions to ask about what you’re doing well

Hopefully, your manager gives you positive feedback without you having to ask for it, but if they don’t—or if you want to get feedback on something specific—you can always ask about it. This information will not only help you in your current role, but might also help you in your next job search when you need to talk up your strengths and achievements.

Here are a few questions you might ask:

  • “What do you feel I’ve done well in the past year [or however long it’s been since your last review]?”
  • “What do you think my strengths are as a [role]?”
  • “Have you seen improvements in [area your manager asked you to work on in the past]?”
  • “Does anything stand out to you as one of my biggest successes or achievements since our last review?”
  • “You praised [something you’ve worked on since your last review]. What specifically do you think made it successful?”
  • “Is there any unique skill or perspective that you think I bring to the team?”

Performance review questions to ask about your growth areas

Yes, an all-around glowing review will make you feel good and give you a nice ego boost for the day. But even if you’ve done nothing but kick ass at your job all year long, nobody’s perfect, and that means that there’s a “next step” for you. So ask about it: Whether it’s management training, learning a new technical skill, or taking on higher-profile projects, there is almost certainly something you still need to do to grow professionally and move forward.

Truthfully, naming your “growth areas” can be a tough one for managers. If your boss does have critical feedback, it’s not always easy to deliver well. And if you’ve done a great job, they might be content to give you the “great job!” review, and not have thought through what constructive advice they can also give.

Some questions you might ask are:

  • “Are there specific skills where you feel like I could be stronger?”
  • “Are there any new skills you think I could develop?”
  • “What skills do you feel I’m excelling at? Is there any way I could use these skills in a new way or to help the team?”
  • “Are there any stretch assignments I could take on in the coming months to hone my skills or develop new ones?”
  • “What do you see as the next steps in my professional development?”
  • “How would you suggest that I approach learning [new skills] and applying it to my role?”
  • “How do you think I could better contribute to our team?”
  • “How could I be making your job easier?”
  • “Are you happy with our current level and style of communication? Is there anything I could change to make things better for you?”
  • “Do you have any additional feedback for me outside of what we’ve gone through already?”
  • “Is there anyone else it would be valuable for me to check in with and get feedback from?”

Performance review questions to ask about your goals for the future

In addition to figuring out what skills you should be working on, make sure you’re crystal clear on the concrete goals your boss wants you to meet in the next month, three months, six months, and/or year. After all, you can’t meet or exceed your boss’ expectations if you don’t know what they are.

Also, when your next review comes around, it’ll be helpful for both of you to have specific goals to look back at, so you can evaluate your success.

  • “What would you like to see from me by our next performance conversation?”
  • “How are you planning to measure my success or progress in the coming months?”
  • “In the future, I’d like to [professional goal you have]. What do you think I need to do to get there?”
  • “I think that I’ve made progress in [skill]. Are there any assignments or projects I could take on to use my new skill?”
  • “Are there any projects or initiatives where I may be able to take on a leadership role?”
  • “Would now be a good time to discuss a new idea I had for [a new process, project, initiative you’ve thought about]? If not, can we schedule some time to talk about this?
  • “I’m interested in learning more about [another area of your company or team’s work]. How could I go about doing this?”
  • “Are there any resources available to help me with my goals?” (For example, a budget for taking courses or attending conferences.)

Performance review questions to ask about the timeline for raises or promotions

Unfortunately, your review isn’t always the time for a raise or promotion—but it is the time to ask about next steps toward getting there. Use your review as an opportunity to let your boss know how committed you are to your growth within the company—and, once you’ve talked about your goals and performance, to ask about a specific timeline for getting to that next step.

  • “Is now the appropriate time to discuss my compensation?”
  • “Are there any opportunities for growth within the company from my current position?
  • “What can I do to make myself a candidate for a promotion?”
  • “What can I do to make myself a candidate for a raise?”
  • “What timeline are you thinking about in terms of raises or promotions, and what would you like to see from me during that time?”

Performance review questions to ask about your next (formal or informal) review

When it comes to tracking your growth at work, your annual performance review is helpful—but it isn’t enough. Ideally, you should be meeting with your boss quarterly (if not more frequently) to discuss your performance and how you’re progressing towards your agreed-upon goals.

If your next touch point is more than six months out, you could ask for an informal check-in sooner. You want to make sure you know how you’re doing in your boss’s eyes, and give yourself plenty of time before your next review to improve on any areas where you could be doing better. Plus, these sorts of informal conversations can also be a great launching point for taking on new projects or responsibilities mid-year, which will only help when your next review comes up.

  • “What timeline did you have in mind for our next informal check-in or formal review?”
  • “A year is a long way out—could we schedule a check-in sooner? I’d love to make sure I’m on the right track throughout the course of the year.”
  • “Can we schedule regular check-ins about my progress and goals throughout the year outside of our usual one-on-ones?”
  • “Is there any way we can check in about my progress outside of the company’s formal review system?”

Yes, your performance review is the time for your boss to tell you how you’ve done in the past year, but it’s also the time for you to plan for success in the future. So use it to your advantage—and make sure you come out of it knowing what you need to do to get to the next level.