Best-Self Review® question templates: overview and best practices

👥 Only review admins can create, edit, and manage question templates.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a good question can be worth even more in sparking meaningful conversation and driving positive change. Before you create a review cycle, it's important to understand the process of adding questions to the review cycle. In 15Five, this is done using question templates.

In this article, you will learn...

Once you understand question templates in 15Five, check out our "Decide how you want to add questions to your review cycle" article to understand the options we offer for adding questions to a review cycle.


What are question templates?

Question templates contain the questions that will be asked to cycle participants. Each review type (self/manager, peer, and upward) gets it's own question template, meaning that there can be up to three different question templates used in a review cycle.

During the process of creating a review cycle, you will be asked to select the question template you want to apply for each review type.


You can mix and match any of the three options covered in this article for a review cycle, meaning that you can create a custom question template for self/manager reviews, use a default question template for peer reviews, et cetera. Read more in our "Decide how you want to add questions to your review cycle" Help Center article.

What sections can I include in question templates?

The following sections can be included in a question template:

  • Growth & development: In this section, we recommend asking strengths-based development questions to increase motivation and performance. For example: "What are your top three strengths and how did you apply them to your work since your last review?" or "What are up to three wins you want to celebrate since your last review? What led to those wins?"
  • Company values: Here, review writers are asked to reflect how the participant is living out your company values.
  • Competencies (included in self & manager and peer question templates only): In this section, review authors are asked to rate a participant on how well they demonstrate specific company-wide, group, and/or role competencies.
  • Objectives (included in self & manager question templates only): This section of the question template allows managers and participants to reflect on the performance of objectives a participant was responsible for completing over a select time period.
  • Private manager assessment (included in self & manager question templates only): The private manager assessment is a set of questions that appears in the manager reviews of Best-Self Review® cycles. In this section of the manager review, managers answer future-focused questions to help make career decisions about a direct report.
    Help Center article 💡: 15Five's Private Manager Assessment
  • Manager expectations (included in upward question templates only): The 'Manager expectations' section contains questions that measure the effectiveness of their manager, based on set expectations. You can use 15Five's suggested manager expectations, or create your own.
    Help Center article 💡: 15Five's Manager Expectations Assessment

Suggested steps to take before you begin

Before you select how you want to add questions to your review cycle, we suggest taking the following steps. These steps are optional, but can help ensure that review writers are reflecting on the right things to maximize the impact of your review cycle.

Add your company values to 15Five

Company values are the guiding principles and beliefs that shape the culture, decision-making, and behavior of an organization. They are the foundation on which a company's mission and vision are built, and they represent what the organization stands for and what it aspires to be.

In 15Five, you can choose to include company values in the "Company values" section of question templates for Best-Self Review® cycles. Asking review writers to reflect on a participant's contribution to company values helps reinforce your values, encourage alignment, and identify opportunities for growth. You can include company values in self/manager, peer, and/or upward question templates.

Learn more about adding your company values to 15Five in our "Manage company values" Help Center article.


Add competencies to 15Five

Competencies are demonstrable and measurable clusters of knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes that an employee needs to perform their work functions successfully.

In Best-Self Review® question templates, there is an optional 'Competencies' questions section that allows review authors to rate a participant on how well they demonstrate specific company-wide or group competencies. Doing so helps ensure that participants are aware of how they're performing with regard to their expectations, as well as facilitate career development conversations between managers and review cycle participants.

Read more in our "Upload and manage competencies" Help Center article.


Tips for success

  • Assess your Best-Self Review frequency (twice/year, quarterly, monthly etc) - look into the data and how often you are including upward reviews. Are you already using upward reviews to measure manager effectiveness? Or are you shying away from various review types? Switch up the manager effectiveness template with the regular upward template to continuously manager growth, development, and effectiveness.
  • Keep your review templates for self+manager and peer lightweight if your frequency is more than twice a year. 
  • Recognize and use the tool tips throughout the templates and reviews to understand the goal behind a section or question.
  • If a question template is close to what you would to ask, but you would like to make some minor additions/changes, just clone the default template and make your changes. Now you have a combination of 15Five's default templates and your unique company questions.
  • If you are including upward reviews in a cycle: Communicate the upward review questions to managers in advance (ideally at least one quarter in advance) so they have a fair understanding of what's expected of them.


Consider leveraging the same questions in each review cycle (or in every other review cycle) to lead to continuity of reporting.


Was this article helpful?