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employee self evaluations
5 Min Read

Unlock Better Performance With Effective Employee Self-Evaluations (With Examples)

Genevieve Michaels

Performance review. There are perhaps no other words in the English language that create so much stress for employees. (Well, maybe “we need to talk” is up there, too.)

But while performance reviews can be nerve-wracking, they help you bring out the best in your people—and there are ways to make them less stressful. One powerful strategy? Including self-evaluations in every performance review.

Employee self-evaluations can be created manually, or with dedicated tools like 15Five. In these evaluations, employees usually answer a few questions about their performance, their strengths, their weaknesses, and some of the highlights of the period you’re evaluating.

Let’s dive in to employee self evaluations and some examples.

The Purpose of Employee Self-Evaluations

Self-evaluations give employees a chance to participate in the process directly, instead of just receiving top-down feedback from leaders. 

At their core, employee self-evaluations fulfill these goals:

  • Allow employees to discover and share their strengths and weaknesses with their managers.
  • Give managers a sense of how an employee’s perspective on their performance aligns with their actual performance.
  • Encourage employees to find and formalize evidence of their value to the organization.
  • Give employees more ownership over their performance and its improvement.

Allowing employees to participate in their performance this way also makes it more likely that they’ll be receptive to its overall outcome. Bottom line, it helps employees be more self-aware and managers learn more about how their team members view themselves.

11 Examples of Employee Self-Evaluation Questions

To get a complete picture of your employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and overall performance in their self-evaluation, here are some questions to include.


  • What is your one-year goal within this company?
    • Encourage employees to shoot for goals just above what they think they can reach.
  • What about a 10-year goal?
    • For this question, it’s important to emphasize that they don’t have to see this as a goal that has to be within your organization—this should be a broader career goal.
  • What skills do you need to build to reach these goals?


  • What are your three greatest strengths in your current position?
    • You can push employees to be more creative than simply saying things like “my bug-fixing skills” if they’re engineers, for instance.
  • What’s one skill or strength you think you need to add to your repertoire?
    • Answers to this sort of question can help you set up or improve any internal training/education resources you have.


  • What do you think are the three things holding you back the most in your growth?
    • It’s important to encourage transparency and honesty here.
  • Can you share an example of a conflict or other situation that was caused (or made worse) by one of these weaknesses?
  • Is there a weakness you worked on improving this year? How successful were you?


  • Name one of the biggest projects or deliverables you worked on this year. How impactful were your contributions? Why?
  • Identify a situation, conflict, or project that didn’t go your way this year. How did it come about? What did you do to try and solve it? How did it end?
  • If you had to give your performance this year a rating out of 100, what would you give yourself?
  • How would you describe your work-life balance this year?
    • Making this a multiple-choice question can make it easier for employees to answer truthfully.

The Role of Peer Reviews in Validating Self-Evaluation

Even with the best performance management tools on the market, managers and other leaders can’t see everything going on with someone’s work. That’s where peer reviews—where an employee’s team members are encouraged to evaluate their performance—come in. You’ll get more data about that person’s performance and more perspectives, allowing hidden aspects of their performance to come to the surface. 

Here are a few ways managers and HR leaders can use these peer reviews:

  • Confirming or challenging any learnings that come from an employee’s performance review.
  • Highlighting aspects of an employee’s work that might not come through through the regular performance review process.
  • Finding gaps in your self-evaluation process.

Common Pitfalls in Employee Self-Evaluation

Surface-level questions

If self-evaluations are considered more of an afterthought rather than a key part of the performance review process, then the questions in them likely won’t be very useful. Create questions that encourage employees to dig a little deeper to generate useful self-evaluations.

Employee anxiety

You need to build a healthy amount of trust in your employees for them to answer self-evaluation questions as honestly as possible. But you’ll always get the occasional employee who’s naturally a little more anxious and needs extra reassurance that the things they say in their self-evaluation won’t be used against them.

Dishonest self-evaluations

Most people do a great job of evaluating themselves honestly, but there are always a few cases where evaluations seem overly glowing. If you ever have a nagging doubt that this is the case for a particular employee, take some time to compare what they’ve given you against feedback from their direct supervisor or their teams. You don’t need to show the self-evaluation, just use it as a reference.

Too much focus on performance

While you should be learning about an employee’s performance through their self-evaluation, it shouldn’t be the only focus. Consider this a chance to learn about how an employee sees themselves, what their ideal work-life balance is, and what their overarching goals are.

Get on the self-evaluation train

Employee self-evaluations should be an essential part of every performance review process. They’ll give you more insight into how the people on your teams view themselves and can guide you when suggesting growth opportunities—both for high-performers and people who are struggling a bit more. Take the time you need to build thorough and fair self-evaluations and fine-tune them as time goes on. You’ll be surprised by just how much you’ll learn!

Need a dedicated self-evaluation tool? Find out why 15Five’s performance management features fit the bill.