Conducting the Appraisal Interview

Appraisal Definition: 

An appraisal is the act of assessing an employee or a member of a team. These are normally taken place within an interview and are a terms of analysing the performance of that employee. From the analysis employees are normally given advice on how to improve, which they can use to make aims and objectives to build upon until the next appraisal interview occurs.

Step 1: Prepare

Preparing for the interview is very important, having a prepared interviewer will make the interviewee more confident that the review of their performance is being done properly and this in turn will make them more likely to listen to advice given.

To prepare for an appraisal the interviewer needs to make sure there are no distractions, by removing the phone etc., make sure the room is set up so that the person being reviewed is comfortable, both mentally and physically.

As well as this its important that the last appraisal done with this person is looked at, so that objectives which should have been achieved can be checked and its then possible to easily build upon what has already been covered over the years with this employee. It also means that the person being reviewed will be more confident that the reviewer is trying to do everything properly. Information should also be gathered from any of managers supervising this person.

The most important aspect of being prepared is that both sides of the appraisal know what the point of the meeting is, what will be happening and why it will benefit them and the organisation. A good way to get to know what will be happening in a specific appraisal is to get both parties to fill in a form and then exchange them so that issues and talking points can be identified and some more preparation can be put into the interview.

Step 2: Clear Communication

Appraisals are all about clearly communication within an organisation, getting across the point of objectives and then reviewing them when the time comes.

Although most of the time senior management decide upon objectives, appraisals are a good time to discuss what objectives to be. This allows management to get an idea of what employees think they will achieve and in turn it allows them to see how they can push their staff so that they achieve greater heights.

During appraisals individuals need to engaged in the thinking, meaning that the reviewer needs to use appropriate language and techniques to try and come across in the best light and find out the information that they need.

It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it

This quote tells us that it is the communication which needs to be watched, not the actual content of the review. Obviously the content is the ultimate goal in this situation, but to get to that we need to concentrate on getting that content out of people, which is done by communicating in the correct way.

For example, managers need to lead people into in the answer, and don’t really give them an leeway to deviate. The following are some examples to good questions to allow the reviewer to ask the reviewed without getting short sharp answers.

Opening Questions

  • Tell Me About…
  • What Happened When…

Probing Questions

  • What Happened After?
  • How Did You Achieve This?
  • You Say This Happened, How?
  • Why?

When you need quick answers which get to the point, the following questions can prove to be very useful;

  • What Time Was That?
  • How Long Did You Spend on it?
  • How Many People Helped You?

Another good way to get information out of people is to ask them a question which gives a choice;

  • Do You Prefer This, Or This?
  • How Do You Like to Approach The Task, Logically, or Jump-in?

Questions which should be avoided are ones that lead people into the answer, as this can get them out of situations or lead to a response which isn’t what you were looking for, it also may be untruthful or misleading. As well as this multiple questions should be avoided as it means that the first one, or few, are often forgotten and therefore don’t get asked. You should always ask a question  and then base your next question on the answer to the previous one.

  • I Suppose You Looked Into This First? – Gives the impression that they should have.
  • I Take It You Are OK With This? – Implies they should be.

Step 3: Interviewing Based on the Person

Another important aspect of doing an appraisal interview is to make sure that you interview the person in a way which is relevant to them. For example, most appraisals will be done with people who have been in the department for a while, and know what’s going on, therefore they have more to say and the appraisal should be done in a two-way, equal way.

On the other hand if the person is new to the department, and doesn’t know much at the current moment in time, then they wont have as much to say and therefore the interviewer needs to take more of a centre role.

The interview also needs to be conducted in-line with the way the organisation is run. If the culture of the organisation is Power then the interview needs to be more direct and set up so that people don’t get suspicious, if you suddenly start being very open then employees may wonder why the culture has changed.

If the organisations culture is Task then it may be the employee doing more talking, as they are in-charge of tasks and are just meant to get on with them, showing that they should be quite aware of themselves.

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Key Learning Points

To keep it in you head whilst you move onto reading other sections of the website, answer the following questions about this topic;

  1. What is the Definition of an Appraisal?
  2. What is the Definition of Performance Management?
  3. What are Four Important Reasons to Use Appraisal Interviews?