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Top questions to ask during your next performance review

10 Jul 2023

Having some questions to ask at your performance review will benefit you as these meetings are your chance to have an honest discussion about your work.

In case you’ve never had one or don’t know what they are, a performance review is meant to be a conversation between yourself and your employer or boss about your strengths, weaknesses and areas where you might feel you need a bit of extra support.

Typically employers will organise formal performance reviews at regular intervals throughout the year. If you’ve been doing your work to the best of your ability you should have nothing to fear. The performance review is one-sided in that it is an evaluation of your performance at work, but it is also your opportunity to flag any issues or concerns you may have that could be affecting your performance.

Whoever is on the other side of the table will want to hear what you think about your own working habits, so the two of you can carry out an honest assessment. That means they are honest but it also means you are honest. It also means that you’re expected to interact and engage in the evaluation process for your own benefit. Having some thoughts prepared on your own end is a good idea, as is having some questions, or talking points if you aren’t sure what exactly you want to ask.

Here are some of the questions you might want to consider asking at your next performance review meeting.

What am I doing well?

This is about your strengths, and it’s always a good idea to start (and finish) the conversation on a positive note unless something is drastically wrong on either end. You can talk about what you think you are doing well and respond to what your employer has to say on the topic. If there are areas of the job you enjoy mention them and say they play to your strengths. It helps both parties when your boss knows what you like about your job.

Is there anything I can do differently?

Even if you are told you have no weaknesses at all, it is still advisable to ask a question like this because 99pc of the time there is something small that you could perhaps change. This question is also useful if you are given a lot of negative feedback because it can turn criticism into an opportunity for constructive feedback which is what will help you work on your weaknesses in the long run.

What kind of skills should I work on?

Skills-related questions can provide an opportunity to get granular and dig into your role in a more forensic way than the standard strengths and weaknesses questions. You might find that you and your boss are both on the same page when it comes to the kinds of skills you need to learn, or you might be surprised by the direction the conversation goes. It’s a future-focused question so there might be areas you hadn’t thought of that your boss recommends for you to upskill in. Don’t be afraid to ask how the organisation can support you as you learn these skills and how learning them will benefit you.

What is expected of me going forward?

Find out whether you are expected to keep going as you are in your current position or whether you could be getting additional responsibilities. If the latter, what will these additional tasks entail and will you receive any extra benefits for them?

How is the organisation doing and how can I help?

Showing initiative and a willingness to get stuck in will make everyone at the table feel positive about the meeting. Don’t be afraid to ask about the company and how things are going as these details affect you just as much as they affect your boss and the C-suite staff members.

If things are going well, then figure out how you can benefit from this uptick in good fortunes and be sure to tell your employer that you are willing to contribute and be a team player so you can all reap the rewards together.

Likewise, if things are going badly from a sectoral or company point of view, there might be job cuts or pay cuts on the horizon that you deserve to be warned about. You can ask if your job is safe if you are worried about it.

Are there opportunities for career progression?

Learning, upskilling and progression opportunities are all on the agenda at a performance review. This question is different from the other questions about skills and promotions or raises as it is more holistic. Leave it open-ended and see what your boss has to say in terms of what they can offer and where they see you going in your career based on your current trajectory. Then you can bring in your own wants and needs and upskilling aims based on what they say.

Can I get a promotion/raise?

One-on-one formal meetings with your boss are perhaps the best opportunities you will get to ask for a promotion and/or a raise if you feel like you are owed one. Be polite, be firm and stand your ground if you believe you deserve some additional recognition. You are well within your rights to ask for appropriate remuneration and support.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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