Interview Scorecards

– take your hires to another level

Do you use a scorecard in your interviewing process? Even if you do, you may find this a useful re-cap on how you can make your interviewing less prone to biases that you may not even realise you have. And most importantly, using an effective scorecard could help reduce the number of costly, poor hiring decisions in your organisation.

For the benefit of those who have not used scorecards as a way for creating a more quantitative basis for your interviews, here is a simple explanation of an interview or hiring scorecard; a set of defined attributes that are desirable in your employees that you create a scoresheet for. You can ensure questions and topics discussed during interview tie into these attributes to help reach a reasonable assessment of candidate strengths. A score for each attribute is recorded on the scoresheet. Once scoresheets have been completed for all candidates, it is easy to compare them all to assist with shortlisting.

Why use a scorecard?

Scorecards are extremely helpful in many situations, however particularly if there is an increased chance of introducing bias into the hiring process. For example, for consistency, if there are multiple interviewers. Or if the interviews are being spaced out over time, it helps ensure there is more objective decision making.

How to develop your list of desired employee attributes

The best place to start is with some introspection. What are the common characteristics amongst your employees that help form your company’s strengths? What are the key things that contribute to your success and then translate these into what an individual’s attributes are that support that contribution? For example, if one aspect that shapes your company culture is ‘energetic’, then you are likely to be looking for employees that have qualities like ‘decisive’ or ‘proactive’. You may find there is some overlap between desired attributes that can be grouped into categories and addressed via the same interview questions.

Whilst you are identifying attributes it is worth making a note of the relative importance of each of them for the particular job vacancy you are trying to fill – an attribute like ‘decisive’ might be very important for senior positions, but less so for more junior roles.

Developing your interview questions/discussions to cover desired candidate attributes

Interview approaches can be flexible to suit your organisation and the style of your interviews. If you are interviewing in a more casual style, you can still use a score card by making sure topics are covered off that will naturally give the candidate an opportunity to mention their experience. If a more traditional approach is used (particularly where different candidates are being interviewed by different hiring managers) you can read each interview question verbatim off interview documentation. Try and complete your scoring for the answers as close to when the interview was held as possible, as it should be more accurate (rather than relying on your memory of how they met the criteria).

You can also use other objective information to help you complete the score – for example if it is a position that needs a certification like ‘First Aid’ then you can refer to the curriculum vitae for and validate it in the appropriate way (e.g. authority checks).

Consider weighting scores for certain questions/topics to reflect importance of attributes

No doubt some characteristics for your prospective employees are much more important than others and this should ideally be factored into your scoring methodology. One way of doing this is assigning a weighting. You could do this by applying a weight of 1 (i.e. neutral) to characteristics that are of moderate importance, 2 to characteristics of great importance and 3 to characteristics of extreme importance. For example, “tidy appearance” might be a characteristic for a client facing position and of extreme importance, so a weight of 3 might be applied to work out the highest possible score for that particular characteristic. You can use a scoring spreadsheet with the help of various columns to calculate the candidates’ total scores – you can then divide their score by the maximum possible score (taking into account weighting) and express this as a % to allow score comparisons between candidates.

Give it a try…

If you haven’t already tried using a scorecard for interviews, give it a go, you have little to lose – even if you revert to your current technique, you are bound to discover a thing or two along the way.


Mark Douglas

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