How to Write a Self Evaluation (With Examples)

First step, be honest about your hits and misses.

Written by Lisa Bertagnoli
How to Write a Self Evaluation (With Examples)
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UPDATED BY
Brennan Whitfield | Dec 01, 2023
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Self evaluations are performance assessments that bring you and your manager together to rate your performance over a given time span (quarterly, semi-annually, annually) either using a scale (one to 10 or one to five) or by answering open-ended questions. You complete the evaluation and so does your manager. During the performance review, the two of you compare notes to arrive at a final evaluation.

What Is a Self Evaluation?

Self evaluations are performance assessments that both employees and managers complete. They can be done quarterly, semi-annually or annually, and range from open-ended questions discussed to ratings given on a numeric scale.

Writing about yourself, especially if those words are going to be part of your permanent work record, can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, self evaluations give you a voice in your performance review, and they’re opportunities to outline your career goals and get help in reaching them.

Below, we’ll examine self evaluation benefits, tips and examples, plus how both employees and managers can complete them successfully.

More on Self EvaluationsSelf-Evaluations Make Stronger Leaders. Here’s How to Write One.

 

Benefits of Self Evaluations 

Benefits of employee self evaluations include:
 

1. Help Employees and Managers Prepare for Performance Reviews

Completing a self evaluation can help guide the eventual performance-review conversation in a structured, but meaningful, way. It also helps both parties get an idea of what needs to be discussed during a performance review, so neither feels caught off guard by the conversation.

 

2. Give Employees an Opportunity to Reflect on Their Progress

Since self evaluations are inherently reflective, they allow employees to identify and examine their strengths and weaknesses. This helps employees both know their worth to an organization and what they still have left to learn. 

“Self evaluations enable employees to see their work in its entirety,” Jill Bowman, director of people at fintech company Octane, said. “They ensure that employees reflect on their high points throughout the entire year and to assess their progress towards achieving predetermined objectives and goals.” 

 

3. Help Managers Track Employee Accomplishments

Employee self assessments help managers more accurately remember each employee’s accomplishments. “As many managers often have numerous direct reports, it provides a useful summary of the achievements of each member,” Bowman said. 

 

4. Improve Employee Satisfaction

Academic literature indicates that employees are more satisfied with evaluations that involve two-way communication and encourage a conversation between manager and employee, according to Thomas Begley, professor of management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The thing is, employees have to trust that the process is fair, Begley added. If they believe it is, and they’re treated fairly and respectfully during the process, employees react positively to self evaluations.

 

5. Can Decrease Employee Turnover

Some companies see tangible results from self evaluations. For example, Smarty, an address-verification company, enjoys low staff turnover, said Rob Green, chief revenue officer. The self-evaluation method, coupled with a strong focus on a communication-based corporate culture, has resulted in a 97 percent retention rate, Green told Built In.

Related6 Ways to Be More Confident in Performance Reviews

 

How to Write a Self Evaluation

The ability to write a self evaluation is a critical career skill.

“Self evaluations give you a platform to influence your manager and in many cases, reframe the nature of the relationship with your manager,” Richard Hawkes, CEO and founder of Growth River, a leadership and management consulting company, said. “And all results in business happen in the context of relationships.”

Below are some tips on how to complete a self evaluation.
 

1. Track Your Work and Accomplishments

Daily or weekly tracking of your work can help you keep track of your progress and also prevent last-minute “what on earth did I do the last six months?” panic at performance evaluation time, said Peter Griscom, CEO at Tradefluence. “Strip down the questions to two or three, and just ask yourself, ‘How well did I communicate today?’ ‘How well did I solve problems today?’ ‘What have I achieved today?’” Griscom said. “Get in the habit of writing those things out and keeping track and over time.”

 

2. Answer Honestly  

For his first self evaluation, Griscom remembers wondering how to best answer the questions. After he asked his manager for guidance, Griscom answered the questions as accurately as he could. “What came out of it was really valuable, because it gave me a chance to reflect on my own achievements and think about where I can improve,” he said. “It forced me to do the thinking instead of just accepting feedback.”  

 

3. Highlight Your Achievements

If your boss has a handful of direct reports, chances are good they haven’t noticed each of your shining moments during a review period. This is your chance to spotlight yourself. Quotas exceeded, projects finished ahead of schedule, fruitful mentoring relationships, processes streamlined — whatever you’ve done, share it, and don’t be shy about it, said Alexandra Phillips, a leadership and management coach. Women, especially, tend not to share achievements and accomplishments as loudly or often as they should. “Make sure your manager has a good sense of where you’ve had those wins, large and small, because sometimes they can fly under the radar,” Phillips added.

RelatedWhat Are Short-Term Career Goals? (With 12 Examples)

 

4. Admit Weaknesses and How You Have Grown 

If you’ve made a whopper mistake since your past review, mention it — and be sure to discuss what you’ve learned from it. Chances are good your manager knows you made a mistake, and bringing it up gives you the opportunity to provide more context to the situation.

 

5. Acknowledge Areas of Improvement

Be prepared for your manager to point out a few areas for improvement. This is where career growth happens. “If you want something,” whether it’s a promotion or move to another department, “you need to know how to get there,” said Phillips.

RelatedLong-Term Career Goals: How to Set a Successful Development Plan

 

Self Evaluation Examples and Templates Answers

Still not sure what to do when you put pen to paper? Here are six open-ended self evaluation sample questions from the Society for Human Resource Management, as well as example answers you can use to prepare for your own self evaluation.
 

Job Performance Examples

List your most significant accomplishments or contributions since last year. How do these achievements align with the goals/objectives outlined in your last review?

How to answer with positive results: In the past year, I successfully led our team in finishing [project A]. I was instrumental in finding solutions to several project challenges, among them [X, Y and Z]. When Tom left the company unexpectedly, I was able to cover his basic tasks until a replacement was hired, thus keeping our team on track to meet KPIs. 

I feel the above accomplishments demonstrate that I have taken more of a leadership role in our department, a move that we discussed during my last performance review.

How to answer with ways to improve: Although I didn’t meet all of my goals in the last year, I am working on improving this by changing my workflow and holding myself accountable. I am currently working to meet my goals by doing [X, Y and Z] and I plan to have [project A] completed by [steps here]. I believe that I will be able to correct my performance through these actionable steps. 

 

Describe areas you feel require improvement in terms of your professional capabilities. List the steps you plan to take and/or the resources you need to accomplish this.

I feel I could do better at moving projects off my desk and on to the next person without overthinking them or sweating details that are not mine to sweat; in this regard I could trust my teammates more. I plan to enlist your help with this and ask for a weekly 15-minute one-on-one meeting to do so.

 

Identify two career goals for the coming year and indicate how you plan to accomplish them.

One is a promotion to senior project manager, which I plan to reach by continuing to show leadership skills on the team. Another is that I’d like to be seen as a real resource for the organization, and plan to volunteer for the committee to update the standards and practices handbook. 

 

Leadership Examples

Since the last appraisal period, have you successfully performed any new tasks or additional duties outside the scope of your regular responsibilities? If so, please specify.

How to answer with positive results: Yes. I have established mentoring relationships with one of the younger members of our team, as well as with a more seasoned person in another department. I have also successfully taken over the monthly all-hands meeting in our team, trimming meeting time to 30 minutes from an hour and establishing clear agendas and expectations for each meeting. Again, I feel these align with my goal to become more of a leader.

How to answer with ways to improve: Since the last review period, I focused my efforts on improving my communication with our team, meeting my goals consistently and fostering relationships with leaders in other departments. Over the next six months, I plan on breaking out of my comfort zone by accomplishing [X, Y and Z]. 

 

What activities have you initiated, or actively participated in, to encourage camaraderie and teamwork within your group and/or office? What was the result?

How to answer with positive results: I launched the “No More Panicked Mondays” program to help on-site and remote colleagues make Mondays more productive. The initiative includes segmenting the day into 25-minute parts to answer emails, get caught up on direct messages, sketch out to-do lists and otherwise plan for the week ahead. NMPM also includes a 15-minute “Weekend Update” around lunch time, during which staff shares weekend activities. Attendance was slow at first but has picked up to nearly 90 percent participation. The result overall for the initiative is more of the team signs on to direct messages earlier in the day, on average 9:15 a.m. instead of the previous 10 a.m., and anecdotally, the team seems more enthusiastic about the week. I plan to conduct a survey later this month to get team input on how we can change up the initiative.

How to answer with ways to improve: Although I haven’t had the chance to lead any new initiatives since I got hired, I recently had an idea for [A] and wanted to run it by you. Do you think this would be beneficial to our team? I would love to take charge of a program like this. 

 

Professional Development Examples

Describe your professional development activities since last year, such as offsite seminars/classes (specify if self-directed or required by your supervisor), onsite training, peer training, management coaching or mentoring, on-the-job experience, exposure to challenging projects, other—please describe.

How to answer with positive results: I completed a class on SEO best practices and shared what I learned from the seminar during a lunch-and-learn with my teammates. I took on a pro-bono website development project for a local nonprofit, which gave me a new look at website challenges for different types of organizations. I also, as mentioned above, started two new mentoring relationships.

How to answer with ways to improve: This is something I have been thinking about but would like a little guidance with. I would love to hear what others have done in the past to help me find my footing. I am eager to learn more about [A] and [B] and would like to hear your thoughts on which courses or seminars you might recommend. 

RelatedHow to Find the Right Mentor — and How to Be One

 

Types of Self Evaluations

Self evaluations can include rating scale questions, open-ended questions or a hybrid of both. Each approach has its own set of pros and cons to consider.
 

1. RATING SELF EVALUATION 

Rating scale self evaluations give a list of statements where employees are asked to rate themselves on a scale of one to five or one to ten (generally the higher the number, the more favorable the rating). 

For example, in Smarty’s self evaluations, it uses a tool called 3A+. This one calls for employees and managers to sit down and complete the evaluation together, at the same time. Employees rate themselves from 3, 2 or 1 (three being the best) on their capability in their role; A, B or C on their helpfulness to others, and plus or minus on their “diligence and focus” in their role. Managers rate the employees using the same scale. A “perfect” score would be 3A+, while an underperforming employee would rate 2B-.

At the performance evaluation meeting, managers and employees compare their ratings, and employees ask for feedback on how they can improve.

But rating systems can have their challenges that are often rooted in bias. For example, women are more likely to rate themselves lower than men. People from individualistic cultures, which emphasize individuals over community, will rate themselves higher than people from collectivist cultures, which place a premium on the group rather than the individual.

 

2. OPEN-ENDED QUESTION SELF EVALUATION

Open-ended questions ask employees to list their accomplishments, setbacks and goals in writing. The goal of open-ended questions is to get employees thinking deeply about their work and where they need to improve. 

Open-ended questions allow employees a true voice in the process, whereas “self ratings” can sometimes be unfair, Fresia Jackson, lead research people scientist at Culture Amp, said. 

With open-ended questions, employees tend to be more forgiving with themselves, which can be both good and bad. Whatever result open ended questions bring about, they typically offer more fodder for discussion between employees and managers.  

 

3. HYBRID SELF EVALUATION

Hybrid self evaluations combine both rating questions and open-ended questions, where employees assess their skills and accomplishments by using a number scale and by answering in writing. This type of self evaluation lets employees provide quantitative and qualitative answers for a more holistic reflection. 

 

Self-Evaluation Questions for Performance Reviews

If you’ve never done a self evaluation, or if you just need a refresher before your next performance review, looking over some examples of self evaluation questions — like the ones below — can be a helpful starting point.
 

Common SELF-EVALUATION QUESTIONS FOR PERFORMANCE REVIEWS

  • What are you most proud of?
  • What would you do differently?
  • How have you carried out the company’s mission statement?
  • Where would you like to be a year from now?
  • List your skills and positive attributes.
  • List your accomplishments, especially those that impacted others or moved you toward goals.
  • Think about your mistakes and what you’ve learned from them.
  • What are your opportunities to grow through advancement and/or learning?
  • How do the above tie to your professional goals?

 

SELF-EVALUATION QUESTIONS FOR CAREER PLANNING AND GROWTH 

  • What are you interested in working on?
  • What are you working on now?
  • What do you want to learn more about?
  • How can I as your manager better support you?
  • What can the company do to support your journey?
  • How can the immediate team support you?
  • What can you do to better support the team and the company? 

 

SELF-EVALUATION QUESTIONS FOR PERFORMANCE AND CAREER GOALS

  • How did you perform in relation to your goals?
  • What level of positive impact did your performance have on the team?
  • Did your performance have a positive impact on the business?
  • What was your level of collaboration with other departments?
  • What corporate value do you bring to life?
  • What corporate value do you most struggle to align with?
  • Summarize your strengths.
  • Summarize your development areas.
  • Summarize your performance/achievements during this year.
  • How would you rate your overall performance this year? 

RelatedHow to Set Professional Goals

 

How Should Managers Approach Self Evaluations?

It’s clear here that self evaluations, as a type of performance review, are more employee- than manager-driven. That said, managers are a key ingredient in this process, and the way managers handle self evaluations determines much about how useful they are and how well employees respond to them. To make sure they’re as effective as possible, consider these suggestions.
 

Train Managers on How to Use Evaluations

“If you don’t, there’s no point in doing them, because the manager is going to be the one driving the conversations,” Elisabeth Duncan, vice president of human resources at Evive, said. “Without training, the [evaluations] will be a checkbox and not meaningful.”

 

Don’t Use Ratings Formulaically

The results of self evaluations that employ a scale (say, one to five) can vary wildly, as one manager’s three is another manager’s five. Use the scale to identify and address discrepancies between the manager’s and employee’s answers, not to decide on raises or promotions across the company. 

 

Hold Self Evaluations Often

They work best as career-development tools if they’re held semi-annually, quarterly or even more often. “It’s about an ongoing, consistent conversation,” Duncan said. 

 

Tailor Them For Each Department

Competencies in sales very likely differ from competencies in tech, marketing and other departments. Competencies for junior-level employees probably differ wildly from those for senior managers. Self evaluations tailored to different employee populations will be more effective, and fairer. 

 

Stress That the Rating Is Just the Start

The rating or the open-ended questions are the beginning of the evaluation process; they are not the process itself. “These are tools to trigger a conversation,” Duncan said.

Overall, think of self evaluations as a way to engage with your manager and your work in a way that furthers your career. Embrace the self evaluation and get good at writing them. In no time at all, you’ll find that they can be a productive way to reflect on yourself and your skillset. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

A self evaluation is a personal assessment used for employees to reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments and overall progress during an allotted time on the job.

Self evaluations are often completed quarterly, semi-annually or annually, and can include numbered rating questions or open-ended written questions.

An effective self evaluation is one where you highlight your achievements and instances of growth as well as areas for improvement during your given period of time at work. Tracking specific accomplishments and metrics can be especially helpful for writing a good self evaluation.

Jessica Powers contributed reporting to this story.

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