Organizational Wellness

Amazing Employee Review Questions That Drive Performance

Feb 14, 2023
Last Updated Jan 18, 2024

Did you know that employees who get accurate and consistent feedback feel more fulfilled in their jobs? Or that reviews can help employees feel more than four times more empowered to do their best work? 

Yeah, employee reviews are a pretty powerful and a valuable piece of your performance management strategy. 

But here’s the age-old problem: what questions do you ask for employee reviews?   Discover what makes them effective and get some great questions you should be asking your employees in their next review. 

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What Is an Employee Review? 

An employee review, also known as a performance review, is a formal assessment of a staffer’s work, including their strengths and weaknesses. And reviews are about more than feedback — they are also an opportunity to jointly set future performance goals. 

Many companies hold annual reviews, but more and more companies are moving toward quarterly, reviews, or even weekly reviews. When done well, performance reviews help employees, managers, and the company see what’s going well and where there are spots for development. These frequent check-ins can enable faster improvements or adjustments.

There are a variety of review structures to choose from, including self-assessment, upward feedback and 360 reviews. The type of performance review you choose will determine who’s involved in the process but, typically, a review includes the employee, their manager, peers and/or customers. 

Whichever format you pick, the ultimate end goal is the same: to help employees grow and the organization to improve. 

What Makes an Effective Performance Review?

As we mentioned earlier, employee reviews can drive growth, development, fulfillment, and empowerment when done well. And that’s the key: an employee review improperly handled will fail to deliver the potential benefits. So how do you make sure your performance reviews are great? Here are a few things to consider: 

  • Specificity. Both the questions posed and answers given during a review need to be specific to be effective. Vague questions are hard to answer, and indistinct answers rarely lead to measurable action plans. Deploying the SMART framework (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timed) can help you craft useful inquiries and responses. 
  • Include the constructive. Positive feedback is great, but constructive criticism is also important—especially when growth is your goal. When constructive feedback is given with a growth mindset, where both context and action steps are provided, it can actually help build trust
  • Avoid comparisons. A manager comparing two employees can pit them against each other, which is never the point of a performance review. Employees should be measured against company standards and their potential, not each other.
  • Keep it structured. Off-the-cuff isn’t an ideal review approach. This can happen when protocols are unclear, or if a particular reviewer doesn’t know what they should be doing. Either way, it’s important to keep employee reviews structured, such as having set questions and an institutionalized process, to help everyone get the most out of it. 

Areas for Discussion in a Performance Review

What areas should you focus on in a performance review? Here are a few ones we consider key: 

  • General performance. How is the employee doing in the big picture? 
  • Strengths of the employee. What aspects of the job are they really knocking out of the park?
  • Recommendations for improvement and areas for growth. Recognizing opportunities for improvement is the step in increasing performance, but delivering this feedback must be done with sensitivity.
  • Relationship with manager. How do the manager and employee get along? How is communication? 
  • Current position and requirements. Are all the expectations of the role being met? 
  • Goals and plans for the future. Take the time to create a development plan that aligns the employee’s goals with the company’s needs. 

Employee Review Questions: What to Ask

Okay, that leaves us with one final aspect to address: the questions to ask during an employee review.

To start, here are a few things not to ask, and why they don’t work:

  • What are your goals? (Way too vague)
  • Are you happy with your job? (A little loaded and very vague)
  • What’s something you’ll do differently next quarter? (Again, vague)

You’re probably picking up on a theme here. Vague questions are not going to cut it. So now let’s look at 25 good questions you could use on your next employee review:

25 Employee Review Questions 

Questions about the employee’s overall performance:

  1. Which goals did you meet? Which goals fell short?
  2. What experience, project, or action are you most proud of since the last review?
  3. What are your ideal working conditions to be the most productive?
  4. What motivates you to get your job done?

Questions about the employee’s strengths:

  1. What personal strengths help you do your job effectively?
  2. What makes you the best fit for your position?
  3. What skills have you not been able to use in this position?
  4. What kind of work comes easiest to you?

Questions about areas of improvement:

  1. What goals/deliverables were you least proud of? 
  2. What will you do differently moving forward?
  3. Which areas do you want to focus on to grow and develop in the next [period]?
  4. What can we do to help you meet your goals?

Questions about an employee’s current role:

  1. What would you change about your role? 
  2. How do you think your role helps the company meet its goals?
  3. What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
  4. Do you feel that your productivity is maximized in this position?

Questions about future growth:

  1. What are your most important goals for the next quarter?
  2. What is the next position that you would like to have? Why do you think you would be a good fit for that position?
  3. What professional growth opportunities would you like to explore to get there?
  4. What is the biggest challenge you are likely to encounter in the near future? How can we support you?
  5. What type of career growth is most important to you?

Questions about the manager-employee relationship 

  1. What do you need from me or the company to support your performance and development?
  2. What is it like working with your team? (This is a great way to gauge work environment)
  3. What concerns, if any, do you have when it comes to giving me feedback? How can I alleviate those concerns?
  4. What are two or three things I could do differently to manage you better?

These questions will allow you to recognize employees for their contributions. An effective review can also help you give feedback that identifies growth opportunities. Then, together, you can create an action plan to accelerate their personal and professional development.

Conducting Effective Review for Employee Wellbeing

Ultimately, employee review questions like these are designed to help you carefully craft employee reviews, so performance reviews can be a powerful tool your company has at its disposal. The end goal, of course, is employee development. Seventy percent of employees would consider quitting their job to work with someone invested in their development. 

Looking for more ways to boost your employees’ success, development, and wellbeing? Offering wellness programs that are tailored to your unique population is another way to support your employees on and off the clock. 

Talk to a wellbeing Wellhub specialist to build a successful wellbeing program!

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Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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