Bracing for your First Performance Review

Also known as evaluations or appraisals, a good performance review not only lets you know how much you’ve progressed, but also how to do better for the next. Here’s how you can make it count.
The gradsingapore Team
Dawn Yip
Writer, gradsingapore
Bracing for your First Performance Review

As you’re settling into your first job, you’ve probably learned a lot along the way. From learning how to get along with your colleagues to managing your stress levels, you think you’ve been doing well so far. But as the end of the year approaches, there’s likely one more hurdle you’ll have to get through: your first performance review.

It can sound intimidating, and understandably so – the idea of having to go through everything you’ve done so far, under the scrutiny of your supervisor, can seem like a lot. In truth, most people don’t look forward to their performance reviews either. However, when done right, it can go a long way in helping you and your career in the long run.

The importance of feedback

Performance reviews usually consist of a one-on-one meeting with you and your supervisor. As the name suggests, the purpose of these meetings is to not only evaluate you based on your work performance thus far, but to also openly discuss with you about any future goals or development you’d like to undertake in future.

Simply put, this is a great time to receive feedback from your supervisor – not just about the things you’ve done right. Even if it isn’t all rosy, being aware of any areas of improvement to work on will not only help you become a better worker, but also give you a chance to bring up any concerns you have about your job.


Making the most of your first performance review

Your first one can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips to help you prepare and make the most of this important meeting.

Get in the know

Knowing is half the battle, so being aware of what your performance meetings will entail goes a long way in your preparations, especially since every company has their way of conducting these meetings.

As such, feel free to ask your supervisor or even your colleagues, from what methods are used to whether you need to prepare any documents in advance. You could even ask them about their own experiences, which lets you gain insight on how you should approach the meeting.


Reflect on yourself (and beyond)

Before the review, think back to all you’ve done since joining the company. However, it’s important to not only focus on your achievements, but to also reflect on your progress and performance as a whole. In fact, it’s a good idea to list down anything noteworthy, and bring it to the meeting on the day itself – this way you’ll have the topics you need at your fingertips.

In addition, your performance review is also a great time to look ahead and decide what goals you want to set for yourself in the coming future. For example, you might want to pivot into a new role, learning something new or take on new responsibilities.

Throughout this process, be honest with yourself. It won’t do you any good to lie about your progress, and is likely to hurt you in the long run.


Listen (and engage) well

During the meeting itself, your supervisor will be providing you feedback on your performance, both good and bad. However, keep in mind that a good performance review is a two-way conversation, so do ask follow-up questions and clarifications whenever it’s appropriate.

Not all feedback will be positive, though, and it can feel uncomfortable at times. However, being defensive and offering excuses won’t help your case, so avoid doing so during the meeting. If there are any misconceptions your supervisor has, do correct them, but don’t go overboard in the process as well.


Communicate your achievements

The main focus of a performance review should be about you, and it’s also the best time to not only share your past achievements with your supervisor, but to also bring up any goals that you want to set for yourself in the future.

That being said, just bragging about them won’t do you any good – having the proof to back it up will help you better state your case. In addition, your supervisor may not be aware of every single detail of what you’ve accomplished, so having the details on-hand will make it easier to bring them up to speed.

When talking about your accomplishments, it’s also important to describe them in quantifiable terms – similar to how you would mention them in your own resume.


Your first performance review, although intimidating, isn’t something you should be afraid of. As long as you approach it with an open mind and a clear idea of what you want to convey to your manager. With the right preparation and state of mind, you’ll be able to take this as an opportunity to take control of your career and steer it in the right direction.