Assessment interview: new style, sparking with questions

by Danique Geskus | Sep 27, 2023


Chart low and high performers with objective evaluations

In 2015, the Volkskrant featured the article “Abolish the appraisal interview. That year, HR professors and progressive organizations tumbled over each other on TV and radio programs, arguing that the appraisal interview should be abolished. We are seven years on and have appraisals really been abolished?

The answer is no. Perhaps more conversations, planned and unplanned, formal and informal, are being held than ever before. Not only are the names (GROWTH conversation, FIT conversation, The GOOD conversation, Compass conversation, continuous dialogues, et cetera) different, so are the approaches. In more and more organizations, engaging employees on their strengths is commonplace (reinforce what works!) as well as dialogues on increasing their job satisfaction (fun makes it run!). In preparing for dialogues on these topics, questions prove their value.


Sparks with questions

In the conversation with the manager, the team, based on the strengths of employees, agreements are made about the work to be divided. Not a one-sided conversation in which the manager ticks off the talking points, but sparking dialogues based on questions. To get a sharp(er) picture of their strengths, employees can use the following questions.

  • When do I go home (or to work) whistling? So what have I accomplished and what strengths am I putting to use?
  • What do I consider an important success from recent times? What did I do that contributed to the success? What does this say about what I am good at?
  • What do I often get compliments on? So what strong point are we talking about?


360 degree feedback

The sparking with questions is continued throughout the year and with the answers of colleagues, but also clients, project staff, customers, et cetera to the questions below, the employee has leads to further improve his performance:

  • Above all, what should I continue with?
  • What should I show more often?
  • What should I stop doing?

Another variation is giving tops and tips. Below are two sample questions:

  • Do you want to give me a top? ‘Do you do well, appreciate in your behavior and attitude, should you do more, more often, longer.’
  • Do you want to tip me off? ‘I miss this, this takes too long, too short. This is a point of improvement’.

Development and making progress really makes employees happy. Experiencing growth is the happiest moment of the workday according to research.

(Kilian Wawoe, assistant professor of Human Resources Management at VU University Amsterdam)



Using the questions below, employees can hold up a mirror to themselves and improve their performance:

  • Have I done the right things and am I doing the right things well? Where does that show?
  • What went well last period and where does it show?
  • When have I exceeded expectations from a client, colleague?

Instead of a one-sided assessment interview in which the supervisor uses a tot-like form (quality, oral expression skills) to rate employees’ performance with letters (A = poor and E = excellent), employees themselves, with or without input from others, evaluate their performance and make continuous improvement agreements with themselves and/or their supervisor.


Bucket list for A Good Conversation on Work Happiness


I challenge you to create a bucket list for greater work happiness. Here’s a tip: You won’t become truly happy by paying attention to your shortcomings and working hard on them. This is classical psychology in which the emphasis is always on the negative. That doesn’t generally make people feel better. You can start to feel better, though, by figuring out what your qualities are and using them for something bigger than yourself. While musing, consider the answers to the following questions:

  • What do I get energy from?
  • What would I like to do more often?
  • What do I actually want to stop doing?
  • What change will I make first for more job happiness?


Want to know more?

Want to know how to revamp the appraisal interview? Also read our blog “The appraisal interview and The New Appraisal: tips and examples.

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