Article by Matthias Schulmeister


Annual Appraisal 2.0 - Are you already asking these 14 questions?

It's that time again: the annual staff appraisals are coming up. They are actually a good instrument to exchange ideas with each other in peace and quiet. But many people associate them with tense discussions rather than open and constructive conversations. In this article, we will show you what a successful appraisal interview can look like and present 14 questions that will help you achieve one.


Annual Appraisal 2.0 - Are you already asking these 14 questions?

[Translate to English:]

What are the objectives of an appraisal interview?

Annual appraisals are an important part of human resource management in many companies. They offer employees and managers the opportunity to discuss performance, development and goals in a regular and structured way. As a manager, you naturally pursue different goals than your employees: 

From the manager's point of view: 

  • Performance appraisal (often the basis of performance-related pay) 
  • Ensure the optimal deployment of staff 
  • Improving cooperation and communication 
  • Employee retention and job satisfaction 
  • Reflect on further development along different areas 
  • Information flow and transparency about developments 
  • Recognising and targeted promotion of potential and strengths 

From the employees' point of view: 

  • Receive qualified and constructive feedback 
  • Recognition and appreciation 
  • Reflect on development opportunities and targeted support 
  • Building trust and communication with the supervisor 
  • Transparency regarding relevant changes and developments 

Three phases in the annual appraisal

The basis for a motivating and positive annual appraisal is thorough planning on the part of HR and the supervisor. Also, do not forget to give your employees an overview of the topics and the structure of the interview. This way, both parties can prepare, know what to expect and there are no surprises.

How can an annual appraisal be structured?

  1. Reflect - successes and challenges of the last year
  2. Current situation - Analyse tasks and work situation
  3. Outlook - discuss goals and development options

Checklist: Are you already asking these 14 questions?

How successful your next appraisal interviews will be can be controlled quite simply by asking questions. Phrases like "What were the biggest successes and challenges this year?" are used by - and they are important . However, more innovative questions can be more insightful because they are more thought-provoking.  


  • What "new" things have you learned in the last year? 
  • Which project/ task has put you to the test in the last year? 
  • What have you learned from our corporate values and visions in the last year and how do you implement them in your daily work? 
  • Which tasks do you already do in your sleep and where do you still need professional support?  
  • If you had to give your past year a grade today, how would you rate it? 

The last question, for example, would be a good transition to the current situation: In order to evaluate the next year even better, to move from a 2 to a 1, what would have to change in concrete terms? 


  • What is the potential for improvement in terms of cooperation and communication within your team? 
  • How is your work-life balance and what do you need to improve it even more? 
  • What is the current status of your resources ? 
  • What would make your work more efficient (e.g. software)? 


  • What do you need from me as a leader to achieve your goals - what can I support you with in concrete terms? 
  • What skills or knowledge would you like to learn or improve in the coming year? 
  • What more or less do you want from me as a leader for the coming year?  
  • If you could give the coming year a motto, what would you choose? 
  • Nobody is perfect: Choose one characteristic of yourself that you would like to develop further in the coming year and on which you would like to focus. For example, choose punctuality or more transparent communication. Do you have a role model for the target result that you can use as a guide or someone you can ask for support? 

It is important that these questions are asked openly and invitingly so that staff can express themselves freely. This way you can find out what motivates them and what their goals and ambitions are, and then help them to achieve them. TIP: Give employees the necessary time to think about the question - patience is a virtue ;)

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Conclusion: A badly conducted conversation has consequences

For many employees, work is an important part of their lives and it is important that they feel good in their job. It is not for nothing that we take our Passion Statement "making your life work better by making your work life better" very seriously. 

Therefore, it is even more important that the interview is successful, because if annual reviews are not conducted well, employees leave the meeting disappointed and demotivated. Other consequences can be reduced work performance, less commitment or a negative working atmosphere. So-called "sham talks", which are only held as a pretext and in which one cannot speak openly, also lead to a loss of trust and credibility. 

Through annual appraisals, you as a manager can find out how satisfied your employees really are and, if necessary, uncover potential for improvement and frustrations. This way you avoid an increased risk of staff turnover and resignations and make a sustainable investment in your team.