An assessment interview is an interview between the superior and an employee about the performance of the employee over the past year. Unlike a performance interview, this interview is one-way: the superior provides one-sided judgment about the way the employee functions, the influence of the employee is limited to making agreements.
Usually there have been one or multiple performance interviews before an assessment, during which clear agreements were made. A lot of employers use the ‘SMART’ principle for this: specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic and time-bound (see performance interview).
An assessment can come with drastic consequences, such as an increase of salary, promotion, transformation of a temporary post into a fixed one, but also transfer, an outplacement programme or even dismissal. Whatever the outcome of an assessment interview is, it should never come as a surprise. That is why it’s wise to prepare properly for your assessment interview.
Assessment rules or regulations
A lot of universities, university medical centres and research institutes have rules to establish the criteria for an assessment and the procedure. It’s good to read these beforehand. These rules include provisions to make the assessment as accurate and objective as possible. Deviating from the procedure is not allowed in principle, and can lead to the assessment being declared null and void.
Applied standards or agreements
If there are no performance reports or clear agreements with requirements that you should meet, it’s important to make sure you are aware of the criteria that apply to you well beforehand. This way you can work towards it. The employer has to give the employees the chance to meet the established requirements before the assessment interview. Unknown and unreasonable standards may not be part of the assessment.
It’s wise to regularly ask for feedback during the assessment period. Talk to your superior regularly, for example every four months, about how you’re doing at work. Confirm with a few lines via email what has been discussed and what you may have agreed on. If the superior does not hold any performance interviews before an assessment, the reports of these conversations can be used as a base for the assessment.
Create your own file or keep a log. At the end of every month, write down what your achievements have been. Mention clear successes and share these with your superior! A short notice in an email can do no harm. This is a simple way to verify everything. It’s always good to have a well-documented piece about your performance yourself. Especially if the employer does not have this.
According to some regulations, the employee should be given a preliminary assessment before the assessment interview. This way you can prepare better for the interview. Based on your own records, you can then see if the facts of the assessment are correct. If this is the case, you can judge whether the right conclusions have been drawn from the facts. Make notes of your own findings and bring these to the interview. During the interview, you can point any inaccuracies out to your superior.
Tips for during an assessment interview
* Try to understand what is being said during the interview. Don’t get defensive, but ask questions. Why does your superior think that?
* Try to listen to the full story and your employer’s arguments first.
* Be prepared to also receive necessary criticism. No matter how unpleasant it is, it’s all part of it. Still, a lot of people experience criticism on the way they function as a sign of serious personal failure. The positive points quickly lose their shine. This is not necessary: you don’t have to be perfect in order to function well. Don’t take criticism personally: it’s about the way you function. Always ask for examples of what you can improve. Don’t be satisfied with vague comments or general criticism or point out – if necessary – specific examples that show the contrary.
* Please note that an assessment is not based on one incident, or a few of them. Everything that is important for the complete performance, has to be taken into account. Keep this in mind, and if necessary point this out during the interview. The assessment also has to be based on the complete assessment period beforehand, not only on a part of it or the last few weeks before the assessment.
Report of the assessment interview
A report should be made of the assessment interview. If there is no report, this can have consequences for the legality of the assessment.
Both parties will sign the report. If you, as the employee, do not agree with the contents of the report, it’s good to make this known. Sign the report with the addition “for read” or “signed under protest”. You then have to share your objections to the report with your superior and personnel officer in writing and with good arguments.
Good luck with your preparations!