April 9, 2009

Interview Evaluations

Instead of having team members write responses, evals could be done face-to-face with a Program Manager. These "interviews" would happen every 2 weeks and take about 5 - 10 minutes. It's basically a "how goes it" session with your PM without any other team members. These would closely resemble the post-eval talks from the current system.

An obvious benefit of this system is the timeliness of responses. Issues with team members or processes can be acted on immediately. Another necessary piece would be to focus time on goals (if there are no major issues). This would allow a regular check on the progress of goals and suggestions for improvement. Since setting, achieving, and learning from these goals are a large part of our grade, students would be able to hear exactly how they were doing and still have time to improve.

  • Timely information.
  • Informal, conversational situation.
  • Elimination of evaluation deadlines.
  • Good practice on open, constructive communication for both students and PMs.
  • Hard for students to verbralize difficult evaluation subjects (i.e. Criticism of a teammates work). Also difficult for the PM to respond in a timely manner to difficult issues (more on this below).
  • Scheduling pains and time investment.
  • Recording workload is placed on the PM.
  • Difficult to quantify evaluations into a grade.
  • Issues may take time away from goals.
Personal interviews would be a big change of pace for Design Studio. Communicating a specific, difficult subject verbally in the proper context (PM and student are on the same page) is a communication skill that most students would need to improve on.

PM's would also have to factor in the personality of the evaluator, as well as the information provided about the student that is being evaluated. For example, students that have more upfront personalities would provide evaluations that are biased - either very positive or very negative reviews. On the other hand, if the evaluating student's personality is more reserved, then the PM would need to be very attentive during the interview to understand the evaluating student's opinion.

Personal interviews would give PMs better feedback on the person that is providing the evaluation. This would be in addition to the reviews provided by the rest of the team. A lot can be determined about a person from the way they describe their teammates.

This is one of the more experimental ideas that we came up with for improving the evaluation system. Please post thoughts and comments about personal interview evaluations. Also, examples of a similar system being used in the industry would be great to discuss in the comments.


  1. This seems all too familiar...
    I liked your points about openness, honesty, and the importance of understanding how personalities make all the difference in this scheme. I personally like this a lot and have come to many of the same conclusions.

  2. I think it would be difficult to understand the current evaluations, even for PMs. Having interviews would put the evaluator on the spot, so they would not have time to formulate lengthy reasoning and defense.

  3. My response: http://dahvblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/evaluations-of-evals.html