Preparing for your individual annual interview: tips and tricks

Préparer son entretien annuel individuel : conseils et astuces


The annual appraisal interview offers a privileged exchange between the employee and his/her manager. It allows for an evaluation of the work accomplished and the results of the past year, but also for the establishment of new objectives. Very much appreciated by companies, it is however necessary to prepare the individual annual appraisal interview well in advance, both for the manager and the employee. Discover our advice to master this crucial meeting!

📌 To remember

According to the APEC website, about 71% of the employees surveyed who have done their annual review believe that it is useful to them and 64% of them say that it allows them to address sensitive issues. On the other hand, only half of them say they prepare for it.

Preparing for your individual annual interview … on the employer’s side!

The annual performance review is an exercise that can be difficult, even for the manager. However, it is essential to take stock of the past year.

💡 Evaluating results, studying areas of improvement, or listening to everyone’s requests: all of these elements make it possible to improve the quality of life at work and the performance of everyone.

1. Review the previous annual review to prepare for the annual performance review of your employees

Unless the employee in question is brand new to the company, it is easier to start with an old report. You can review what was said and make a list of the results according to the previous individual interview. It’s a bit like avoiding the blank page: you will always have something to say thanks to this technique. 

2. Make a list of topics to discuss

With the previous step, you can make a few notes to list the topics you want to discuss. Classic topics include the employee’s performance, professional development, skills and training needs. You can even go further by discussing more personal issues such as:

  • Quality of life at work: does he or she feel good in the company? 
  • Work-life balance: does he or she need to work flexible hours, a few days of telecommuting or special arrangements for children?

👉 These two points are not essential. Nevertheless, negative feelings towards their colleagues, a complicated schedule or a bad atmosphere can affect an individual’s productivity.

3. Do active listening

Don’t be the only one talking and let the other person speak. Ask your questions calmly and listen carefully to the answers while taking notes. Anything your team can say about working conditions, job performance or even assignments is important. 

👉 For this, we recommend: 

  • Avoid closed questions; 
  • Avoid judgmental questions; 
  • And to personalize your interviews to each employee.

💡 In this way, the employee becomes an actor of his annual evaluation and will be more confident to talk and review the past year. 

4. Highlight the work done and the progress of your employees 

The challenge of the annual individual interview is also to value the work of your employees. Indeed, work recognition is important. If they feel that you appreciate what they do, they are likely to redouble their efforts. 

💡 Feel free to write down two or three situations in which your interviewer excelled.

5. List areas for improvement and new objectives

After highlighting the assets, you will have to move on to the areas of improvement and the new objectives. To do this, you can use evaluation grids (like for job interviews) and then propose new challenges to be accomplished. 

💡 If possible, avoid using the words “negative points” that will make your collaborator feel like a failure.

6. Schedule time for your teams’ requests

During the conversation, always take a moment to listen to the requests of your interviewers. Whether it’s about raises, training, office equipment or telecommuting, it’s important that your employees feel heard.

Preparing for your individual annual interview … on the employee’s side! 

The annual interview is always more delicate and stressful on the employee’s side. However, you should not forget that it is a great opportunity to show the value of your work, to propose objectives that motivate you or to make special requests. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be about the outcome of this meeting!

1. Take stock of your year to prepare for your individual annual interview

The first step is of course to make an assessment of the past year. This should contain, for example, a list of your successes, your results and your obstacles. This will allow you to take stock and possibly ask for a promotion.

👉 Don’t hesitate to share your mistakes or failures while offering areas of improvement or explaining what you could have done. There is nothing wrong with experiencing difficulties. On the contrary, it will reassure your manager who can help you find solutions.

2. List your evolutionary desires 

Depending on the position you hold, you may want to take on more responsibility, take on a particular assignment or acquire new skills. This will be the time to take stock of the training you would like to follow and the way in which your role could evolve.

👉 In any case, don’t hesitate to clearly mention your desires for evolution.

3. Preparing for your individual annual interview by boosting your mind

Like a job interview, preparing for your individual annual interview requires motivation and optimism. You will be reviewing your year, but also making a few requests. You might as well do it with a smile! Be prepared to take some criticism or remarks on your weaknesses and to welcome them in a positive way. After all, the purpose of an annual review is to take stock and your manager’s role is to support you and help you find solutions with kindness. 

👉 To be mentally prepared for the big day, try…

… adopt a positive attitude ;  

… have a professional attitude ; 

… and be proactive!

4. Evoke the future of the company

You are part of a team. It is therefore quite appropriate to project yourself into the future of the company you work for, to make recommendations and to get more involved. 

5. Finding the right time to ask for a raise

This is the most delicate subject of an annual review. It is the one that burns on the lips of every employee and it is quite legitimate. If it is not the main issue of this meeting, it is nevertheless a good opportunity to ask for it, provided that you have adequately defended your successes and achieved your objectives. 

On both sides, preparing for your annual performance review can reduce stress. In any case, stay tuned, show kindness and be constructive! This evaluation is above all a moment of exchange.

To make this exercise less formal and less anxiety-provoking, you can offer your employees a regular follow-up. 

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