Ask The Work Buzz! Bringing a past performance review to an interview

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questionDawn has a question for us: Is it a good idea to bring previous job performance evaluations that I saved from my former job to my second interview for a new job?

The first issue I’d check is whether or not there were any regulations preventing you from taking the performance evaluation from your previous company. In many companies, there’s no problem because the document is about you and belongs to you. It’s not as if you’re giving away confidential information–but you never know what company policies are, so just be careful about that. If the evaluation has “DO NOT REMOVE FROM HUMAN RESOURCES FILES” stamped across it, then don’t. When in doubt, check with the company first.

If you were asked to bring the review, you certainly can. If you weren’t asked to, I’d make sure it was relevant before tossing it on the table and saying, “Read ‘em and weep!”

Bringing a performance review has its pros and cons, and if I were you, I’d consider each carefully before bringing it:

The good:

  • If it’s a glowing review, you can’t help but want to show it off when you need to woo an interviewer.
  • Even if there’s one “needs to improve” mention on the review but everything else is great, you’re basically saying that you’re not ashamed to discuss your flaws. Plus, you can use it to illustrate you have improved in that area.
  • If you’re up against several candidates, performance reviews could be a way to get an edge over everyone else.

The bad:

  • You’ve just shown a potential employer what a past employer said about you, and it might not be 100 percent great.  Not that anyone thinks you’re perfect, but why hand the interviewer a reason not to hire you?
  • You could potentially be setting yourself up to be held to this standard if you get hired. So this particularly fantastic review says you were amazing and surpassed all goals one year. Great, but in this new job, things might be different, and if you’re not delivering the same results, you could look bad.
  • You have to wonder about the motives behind an employer who wants to see the review. What does he or she gain from asking you to supply this information that couldn’t be obtained from checking references? If you feel like something’s fishy,  it might be.

Obviously we can’t tell you what to do because you have to live with your decision. Remember, this request isn’t a standard part of every interview, but it is popping up here and there. Perhaps it’s the start of a trend or maybe it’s something that a few employers are trying out and it won’t be around for much longer.

If you lose the job, will you regret not handing over the reviews? Or will you be happier that you didn’t do something that made you uncomfortable? Your gut reaction to the request is probably the best guide.

Readers, have you had this happen to you? Did you bring the reviews or did you opt not to?

30 Comments
  1. If anything I would say the best way to get around this problem is to get a solid recruitment agency. Such potential there. Tom Bournakas runs a solid one in toronto.

    There are other options out there for you, keep that in mind.

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  4. What should you do if you think a previous(your last job) employer is saying negative information about you during the job verification process conducted by a new potential employer?

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  21. When doing a self evaluation, is it acceptable to comment on how you have improved mentally. ex. I changed positions, one position was depressing, since changing, I have been in a better mood and more productable. Wanting to become more proactive in duties, than just doing enough to keep the job. Felt I was given an opportunity to be reborn, instead of the job sucking the life out of me.

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