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The top 4 phases of an annual appraisal interview

by Lexie Holmes
annual appraisal interview

annual appraisal interview

A source of apprehension, the invitation to the annual employee interview is sometimes not welcomed by the employee. You don’t have to be worried. For this meeting to be a success, there are a few simple rules to follow.

What is the annual appraisal interview?

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As its name indicates, it is an interview that takes place every year. The objective is to review the past year and to discuss the perspectives for the coming year.

It is more than a list of actions, it is your interview. Opportunities to discuss yourself, from a professional point of view of course, with your manager are not so frequent, so take advantage of them! To do this, prepare yourself. Ideally, two weeks before.

If it is your second interview, try to have the minutes in front of you, it is a good start to make your own analysis.
If it’s your first, ask your manager for an outline, or anticipate by preparing your own assessment.

The different phases of an annual appraisal interview

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There are 4 main phases in an annual appraisal interview: the welcome, the analysis of the past year, the setting of new objectives and finally a summary of the meeting. In what precisely do each of these phases consist?

This formal and privileged moment between a manager and his/her employees must be carefully prepared to maximize its success. Conducted by the direct superior of the appraisee, this exercise – sometimes delicate – requires a minimum of know-how and interpersonal skills, both in its preparation and its conduct.

There are four main phases to the meeting itself: the welcome of the appraisee by his/her manager, the assessment of the past year where each person expresses his/her vision of things, the mutual commitment to new objectives, and the summary of the exchanges that have taken place, which will serve as a basis for the next appraisal.

Welcoming the employee

The success or failure of the meeting depends on this first step. This is the moment when the manager must, from the very first minutes, be able to establish a climate of trust and fully welcome his collaborator. Closed room, away from prying eyes and/or ears; instructions not to disturb, except in case of emergency; deactivation of smartphone or other notifications; comfort of the place; serene climate; etc.

It is also during this phase that the manager recalls the overall objective of this meeting as well as the way it will be conducted (points discussed, follow-up, etc.).

Once the conditions of the meeting have been explained and the rules and objectives of the meeting have been reiterated, the manager will ensure that the appraisee is given the opportunity to speak.

Reviewing the past year

This involves taking stock of the past year in terms of successes, possible pitfalls, difficulties, expectations, feedback, satisfaction, support, etc. The evaluation itself is based on an evaluation grid previously established and given to both parties, so that each one can take note of it and fill it in (the evaluated person evaluates himself). This is done as objectively as possible.

This step is essential, particularly in the context of bonuses paid according to individual results.

Evaluation of the employee in his/her position

The objective is to verify that the appraisee is doing his/her job correctly, in the best possible conditions, and that he/she meets the expectations of the position he/she holds. It is also a question of highlighting any shortcomings or weariness in the mission in order to remedy them as adequately as possible and to discuss areas for improvement.

  • Measurement of the results obtained in relation to the objectives set during the last appraisal interview: the appraisee presents his or her self-assessment to his or her superior, who lets the appraisee express himself or herself before giving his or her own view of things. In case of disagreement on certain points, the two protagonists put the situation into context and conduct an analysis based on precise facts, thus avoiding any judgment or erroneous perception.
  • Measurement of the skills required for the position: at what level is the appraisee situated with regard to the tasks assigned to him/her (“Priority point for improvement”, ” Under the expected level”, ” Attainment of the expected level”, “Above the expected level”, “Excellence”)?

Overall assessment of the employee

This involves evaluating the employee’s behavior within his or her team, department, or even the company, and revealing any tensions, detecting the beginnings of an employee burnout syndrome, etc. The questions are of the order of: Is the appraisee well integrated in the company? Does he/she have a good relationship with his/her colleagues? Is the job in line with his/her skills? Does the appraisee show signs of stress that should be taken into account? etc.

Fixing new objectives and action plans

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For the manager and the appraisee, this phase – also called the commitment phase – involves defining new objectives together, finding ways to improve and/or means and actions to implement in order to improve the “weak” points identified, improve performance, develop talents, etc.

It is very important that the employee can express himself on the subject and it is preferable to give him the possibility to find solutions by himself, to make proposals or suggestions rather than to impose them: training, coaching, regular meetings to acknowledge progress, etc.

How to set objectives?annual appraisal interview

limit the number of objectives: focus on the most important and motivating ones to avoid discouragement and dispersion.
Define SMART objectives – simple, measurable, ambitious, realistic and time-based: they must be clear, precise, adapted to the employee’s position and qualifications, understandable, attainable while being motivating, and defined in time.

Set quantifiable objectives in terms of results: the evaluation must be objective and measurable. It is based on results and not on the means used to achieve them.

Determine stable objectives for the year: in case of temporary difficulties linked to the market or the economic situation, they can be revised.


The interview is closed with a summary written by the manager of everything that was said and decided during the meeting: evaluation, positive points, points for improvement, mutual commitments, possible future meetings agreed upon. The employee is also asked to give his or her impression of this exchange.

This report, which includes a contract of objectives, is written and signed by both parties. It will be used as a basis for the following year’s annual meeting.

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