Filling out a self-assessment in a few easy steps

Zoomed photo of a male employee writing on a piece of paper
Zoomed photo of a male employee writing on a piece of paper

It’s the beginning of the year, and for so many companies that means performance reviews are coming soon, or already underway. For employees, that means completing a self-assessment, a task which so many feel lost and confused completing. Here’s some tips to make the process easier for you.

Get your last performance review out for reference

You don’t want to be sloppy about filling out a self-assessment. That means that whatever previous goals and ratings you received are an important reference point for what you’re about to fill out, and you don’t want to write them from memory and make a mistake.

If you don’t have your last performance review, you can always ask your boss or Human Resources to provide it for you. It’s a little embarrassing, but it’s not as embarrassing as making a hash of your self-assessment. If you haven’t had a review yet and you’re unsure what your goals are, it’s time to have a chat with the boss.

Check your notes from coaching

There’s an old saying that there should be no surprises in a performance review. Whatever you’ve discussed with your boss throughout the year is going to be the meat of your upcoming assessment, so use those past discussions to help inform what you write about.

Cheer your achievements, and be honest about your shortcomings

Nobody should know your actual performance better than your boss, and he’ll be able to accurately judge how honest you’re being with yourself. But at the same time, a year is a long time to analyze, so help remind him what you’ve achieved through the year by listing out all the stuff you’ve done.

At the same time, don’t pull the usual cliché trick of saying one of your weaknesses is “giving too much time to your job,” or something ridiculous like that. It could be true, but you either have something you aren’t good at, or something you could be better at. Don’t be afraid to be a little humble.

Always be specific

In your past achievements, offer specifics of exactly what you did: results can’t be denied. List off metrics if you can, or list projects you completed or took part in. It’s better to say “I sold $100,000 worth of product and completed the rollout of the Apollo mission,” than to just say “I completed all required deliverables”.

You’ll probably be asked to offer some goals for the upcoming year as well. Try to find out what your organizations overall goals will be, and design your own specific goals based on that. If your company has a goal to boost a specific set of metrics for the next year, think of what you can do to help that and set your goals accordingly.

This should be easy

Since there should be no surprises in a performance review, your self-assessment should be as easy as rehashing a year’s worth of coaching sessions. If you find its harder than that, then you need to consider if something is not going well in your coaching sessions, or if you’re just overthinking the whole process.

If you’re really having trouble, once again, go to your resources. Have a chat with your boss, maybe chat with a colleague, and work out the nerves before opening that self-assessment form again.