Performance Review Questions to Ask at the 90-Day Mark

Performance Review Questions to Ask at the 90-Day Mark

Navigating the initial 90 days of a new hire’s journey or assessing an employee’s progress within this period is no small feat. This crucial juncture can set the tone for future performance and alignment with company goals. It calls for a deliberate approach, emphasizing the right performance review questions to ensure both parties are on track to meet expectations. The importance of constructive feedback, goal-setting, and establishing performance improvement plans during these check-ins cannot be overstated. They are key components of fostering a productive work environment and guiding employees toward success.

This article dives into the essence of a 90-day review, offering a comprehensive guide for managers prepping for this pivotal phase. It outlines key questions to include that cover goals, feedback, expectations, and suggestions for performance improvement plans. Moreover, it shares best practices for conducting effective 90-day reviews that enhance communication and set a positive trajectory for employee development. Whether you’re aiming to fine-tune your approach to performance assessments or looking for fresh insights on nurturing talent, the forthcoming sections promise to equip you with practical tools to make the most of these critical check-ins.

The Importance of a 90-Day Review

The 90-day review is a critical juncture in the onboarding process, serving as both a checkpoint and a springboard for future success. Initially, it allows both the employee and manager to assess how well the new hire is integrating into the company culture and adapting to the job. This period is not just about evaluation but also about establishing a strong foundation for ongoing development.

Understanding the Purpose Behind 90-Day Reviews

The primary purpose of the 90-day review is to provide an early indicator of employee performance and fit within the company. It offers a structured timeline for new hires to adjust to their roles and demonstrate their capabilities. Importally, it also allows managers to address any issues early, ensuring that new employees are on the right track and fully aligned with the organization’s goals.

Benefits for Both Employees and Organization

For employees, this review period is an opportunity to receive constructive feedback, clarify expectations, and understand the areas in need of improvement or enhancement. It’s a chance to reflect on their initial contributions and integrate into the team more effectively. For the organization, these reviews help in gauging the effectiveness of their recruitment and onboarding processes, potentially leading to higher retention rates and better employee performance. By investing in thorough 90-day reviews, companies can significantly enhance their talent management strategies, ensuring that new hires are well-positioned to contribute to the organization’s success.

Preparing for the Review: A Manager’s Guide

Setting Clear Objectives for the 90-Day Review

To ensure a productive 90-day review, managers must first clarify what they aim to achieve. Reviewing previous documentation from 30- and 60-day evaluations can help identify trends and persistent issues. Whether the employee has exceeded expectations or needs improvement, setting realistic, specific goals for future performance is crucial. This step sets the stage for targeted discussions and measurable outcomes.

Gathering Feedback from Various Sources

A comprehensive review should include insights from those who work closely with the employee. Managers should collect feedback from supervisors and peers to gain a well-rounded view of the employee’s performance. This feedback is invaluable for providing a detailed performance review that addresses all areas of the employee’s work life, from daily tasks to overall contributions.

Creating a Conducive Environment for Open Discussion

Scheduling the review at a specific time and in a private setting is essential to give the employee undivided attention. Prior to the meeting, managers should prepare a one-page performance review summary that highlights key achievements and areas for improvement. During the review, it’s important to encourage open dialogue, allowing the employee to respond to feedback and discuss their role and experiences. This approach not only makes the review more interactive but also helps in understanding the employee’s perspective and fostering a supportive atmosphere.

Key Questions to Include in Your 90-Day Review

Assessing Employee Adjustment and Engagement

  1. How clear are you on your role and the expectations associated with it? This question helps gauge how well the employee understands their responsibilities and clarifies any confusion.
  2. What challenges have you faced in your role so far, and how have you addressed them? Understanding the obstacles encountered provides insights into the employee’s problem-solving skills and resilience.
  3. How satisfied are you with your current role and responsibilities? This inquiry allows the employee to express their contentment or concerns, which can be crucial for their continued engagement and satisfaction.

Evaluating Progress Towards Goals and Expectations

  • What are your immediate goals within your role, and how do you plan to achieve them in the next few months? Discussing short-term objectives ensures they are on track and aligned with organizational goals.
  • How do you see your personal career goals aligning with the company’s vision and values? This question aligns individual aspirations with the company, fostering a sense of belonging and purpose.

Identifying Areas for Improvement and Future Aspirations

  • What skills or knowledge do you feel you need to develop to reach your professional goals here? Identifying skill gaps is essential for personal development and organizational growth.
  • Where would you like to see yourself in the long-term with the company? Discussing long-term career aspirations helps in planning future development and roles that align with the employee’s growth trajectory.
  • Do you have any suggestions to improve the onboarding process? Feedback on the onboarding process can provide valuable insights to refine and enhance the initial experiences of future hires.

Best Practices for Conducting Effective 90-Day Reviews

To ensure that a 90-day review is both effective and conducive to employee development, managers should focus on several best practices.

Ensuring Constructive Feedback and Positive Reinforcement

It’s crucial to share constructive feedback with employees about their performance over the past three months. Highlight both strengths and areas for improvement, ensuring that the feedback is specific and actionable. Recognizing accomplishments not only boosts employee morale but also encourages continued excellence. Providing clear examples of where improvements can be made helps employees understand expectations and how to meet them.

Fostering a Two-Way Conversation

A 90-day review should be a dialogue, not a monologue. Managers should encourage employees to express their thoughts on their roles, the onboarding process, and the organization at large. This approach helps identify any concerns early and allows employees to feel valued and heard, fostering a stronger connection with the organization.

Setting the Stage for Future Development and Growth

The final part of the 90-day review should involve setting clear goals and expectations for the future. Managers need to work with employees to outline achievable objectives and provide the necessary resources or training to help them succeed. This not only sets a clear path forward but also demonstrates the organization’s commitment to the employee’s growth and success.


Through the comprehensive exploration of the 90-day review process, we’ve underscored the significance of constructive feedback, goal-setting, and the establishment of performance improvement plans as pivotal for fostering a productive work environment and steering employee success. These elements collectively facilitate a smoother integration of new hires into the company culture and the fine-tuning of their alignment with organizational goals. Emphasizing the dual benefits for both employees and organizations, the discussion laid out a clear roadmap for managers to prepare, execute, and capitalize on these critical early assessments, thereby enhancing both individual and collective achievements.

The dialogue around this topic has not only illuminated the procedural nuances and best practices for conducting effective 90-day reviews but also emphasized the importance of setting a positive trajectory for employee development through open communication and collaborative goal-setting. As organizations strive to refine their talent management strategies, the insights shared here serve as a foundational guide to maximizing the potential of 90-day reviews. By taking these lessons to heart, managers and employees alike can look forward to a future where growth, improvement, and success are not just goals, but expectations cultivated from day one.

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What should be discussed during a 90-day review?

A 90-day review should cover the performance of the employee, providing a detailed yet concise evaluation of their progress. It’s an opportunity for the employee to voice any questions, concerns, and suggestions for improvement.

Which questions are essential for a 90-day review?

Essential questions include evaluating the company’s onboarding program, identifying the most and least helpful aspects of the onboarding process, and discussing any future training interests the employee might have.

What topics are covered in a 90-day employee feedback survey?

The survey typically explores the employee’s feelings after three months at the company, their most enjoyable experiences, the success of the onboarding process, and any surprises they’ve encountered regarding their role or the company.

What are some critical questions for new employees in their first 90 days?

Key questions include whether the employee feels welcomed by the team, if they have an appropriate amount of work, whether they’re being challenged to learn, and how they see their work aligning with the company’s mission.