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Interview scorecards: top strategies for slam dunk hires

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Make better hiring decisions with interview scorecards

If you’ve ever watched a sporting event like gymnastics or skating, odds are you’re familiar with scoring systems. Each competitor is assessed by the same set of criteria and is given a score, which makes for easy and unbiased comparison. When adapted and applied to other scenarios—like the interview process—scorecards prove to be just as effective. In this post, we’ll explore all the ways interview scoring leads to better interviews and, most importantly, better hires.

What is interview scoring?

Too often, interviews lack the structure required to assess candidates fairly and effectively. With an interview scoring system in place, HR professionals and hiring managers are able to standardize their evaluation of candidates and make better hiring decisions.

When using a scoring system to compare multiple candidates, each candidate is held to the same standard. Questions and criteria are established before the interview and the same rating system is used for each potential hire. With a process this standardized, HR professionals can compare candidates more easily and evaluate them more thoroughly. In addition, candidates can interview more confidently when they know they’re receiving the same questions and opportunities as other interviewees.

What is an interview scorecard?

Just like it sounds, an interview scorecard, or an interview rating sheet, is a form filled out for each candidate as an interview progresses. Standardized criteria and questions for candidate evaluation are established before the interview. Then, during the interview, the hiring professional uses the scorecard to rate the candidate’s responses and take down notes. This scoring and notetaking can begin on first contact with the candidate.

Evaluating the candidate after the interview is easier when using an interview rating card. Candidate responses become measurable data points that can be used to easily rank and compare them against other potential hires. Using a rating system to assess candidates means that candidates aren’t evaluated based on the gut feelings or general impressions of the hiring team. Instead, decisions are made based on clear data.

Types of scorecards

Interview scorecards can be tailored to the needs of an organization and the hiring team. Assessment criteria might include candidate experience, education, work style or portfolio content. Other interview rating systems might take a closer look at soft skills, character traits, or the candidate’s long term goals. HR teams also have options when it comes to choosing a rating system. There are several scoring tools available, but the most popular are numerical, open ended, and Likert.

Numerical

Using a numerical system to evaluate candidates is a simple and effective way to rate interviews. A range of numbers is used to rank candidates and their responses, which might allow for a wider range of scores. Some hiring teams might rate candidates on a scale of one to five, one to ten, or any other range they choose. When using this rating system, it should be clear to interviewers which end of the scale is positive or negative. When using interview solutions like Clovers, each candidate is given a score out of five stars at the end of the interview.

Likert scale

The Likert scale is a scale of measurements using a range of phrases. For example, a candidate might be rated as “fair,” “average,” or “good.” Each rating might be weighted differently—perhaps a “good” is three points and “fair” is one point—and scores can be compiled at the end of the interview.

Open ended

Not all interview questions lend themselves easily to scoring. When candidates are given the opportunity to speak on topics not included on the interview rating sheet, like their unique projects or interests, the interviewer can take freeform notes in the open ended section of an interview scorecard. These notes can be compared with other interviewers to evaluate candidates after the interview.

Categories to include in an interview scorecard

There’s a few important things to consider when building an interview scorecard. First, it’s a good idea to develop an imaginary “gold standard” employee to anchor the rating system. After that’s established, if the hiring team isn’t using an interview solution that provides a candidate rating card, categories to assess might include the applicant’s background, their hard and soft skills, and their general knowledge.

Assessing background

Background questions are related to an applicant’s experience with the job they’ve applied for. How long they’ve been in the field and whether or not they have a related degree are basic, but important, details to include on the interview scorecard.

Assessing hard skills

Hard skills are things an employee is taught. They are used to complete their job and include skills like coding, reading, researching, or media management. While hiring managers can ask questions to evaluate an applicant’s hard skills, sometimes assessment software is used to more accurately gauge their level of mastery.

Assessing soft skills

Soft skills aren’t formally taught. Rather, they are interpersonal and communication skills developed throughout a person’s life. Cultural and generational differences might impact interpretation of these skills, so hiring managers should be careful of any bias they might hold.

Assessing General Knowledge

Questions in this category should assess a potential hire’s understanding of the company’s function and mission. HR professionals might ask the applicant why they applied, what they know about the field, and what interests them about the position.

Why is interview scoring useful?

Using interview rating systems and scorecards to evaluate candidates is helpful to hiring teams for many reasons. They make for more consistent interviews, improve communication within the hiring team, and reduce interviewer bias. Rating cards also improve interviewer compliance and the hiring process overall.

Consistent

Using an interview rating system to evaluate candidates creates a consistent interview experience for each applicant. Conducting every interview with the same questions and rating system makes evaluating potential hires both more objective and fair.

Better Communication

An interview scoring system provides the structure needed to keep discussions focused and on track. When questions are predetermined, the hiring team is also able to easily collect all the relevant information without forgetting anything.

Interview scorecards also improve communication within the hiring team. Each interviewer knows what the interview assessment criteria are, so all decision makers are on the same page. Scorecards also help the hiring team to easily compare notes and make decisions more quickly.

Reduced Bias

When interviews lack predetermined criteria, there is a greater risk that interviewer bias will get in the way of making good hiring decisions. The structure of an interview rating system helps HR professionals hire quality candidates based on objective data, rather than their personal perception or feeling.

When evaluating candidates after the interview, interview scorecards also improve interviewer recall. Instead of struggling to remember which applicant said what—and risking the influence of unconscious bias to draw conclusions—there is a clear record of each candidate’s responses, strengths, and weaknesses. Hiring managers can make decisions based on facts instead of relying on memory or impression.

Increased Compliance

Using an interview solution that provides predetermined interview questions ensures that the hiring professional only asks relevant questions. Scorecards with clearly outlined interview criteria helps the interviewer avoid inappropriate or illegal topics. The scorecard also serves as a record of the meeting if there is a compliance concern after the interview.

Process Improvement

The interview rating system can help track candidate performance after they’ve been hired. Where high interview scores don’t correlate with high performance, it’s a sign that there are opportunities to improve the interview process. It’s easier to track these inconsistencies and improve upon them when there are records of each interview. On the other hand, HR personnel who hire candidates who succeed have evidence that they are evaluating applicants accurately.

Drawbacks to interview scoring

Though there are many pros to using an interview scoring system, they also have their drawbacks. It takes time to develop a rating system that works for the organization and establish which criteria make for great hires. It can also take some trial and error to develop a rating system that accurately predicts candidate success on the job. The interview itself might take more time too, as they are often more thorough and require more notetaking than a casual candidate screening.

When involved with note taking, it can also be harder for interviewers to personally engage with applicants. An interviewer looking at a scorecard instead of making good eye contact with the candidate might miss out on important body language cues. The overall candidate experience might also suffer from this lack of connection—they might feel less engaged with the hiring manager and, in turn, the company.

There is another concern that interview scorecards don’t allow for enough flexibility. Using predetermined interview questions might not flow as easily as natural conversation, which leads to feelings of awkwardness on both sides of the interview. There is also the chance that a candidate might not share as much information as they would during a more relaxed discussion.

What does a strong scoring system look like?

Put simply, a strong interview scoring system is one that works. When the system works, good interview scores correlate accurately with candidate success—said another way, when an applicant scores well on an interview, they’ll do well at work. To reach this level of predictive success, interview questions are weighted appropriately on the rating scale and interviewers are able to consistently rate candidates accurately.

A strong scoring system is one that is easy to understand and use consistently. Interviewers are able to evaluate and rank candidates without difficulty. There is also room on the scorecard to take notes or leave open-ended feedback.

When used correctly, interview rating systems also improve communication within the hiring team. The scorecard creates measurable data points that can be compared to other interviewer’s scores. Making the right hiring decision is easier.

Beyond that, when scorecards are privately completed, each interviewer is required to rate the applicant without the outside influence of other hiring professionals. This makes it easier to see which hiring managers might be more strict or lenient, which interviewers make more accurate predictions, and who might need to improve upon their interviewing skills.

How technology is improving interview scoring

Technology has improved the interview process by taking it virtual. In the same way, intelligent interview platforms like Clovers are making interview scoring easier, efficient and more reliable.

These platforms integrate seamlessness with video technologies like Zoom and have the ability to record and transcribe interviews – so interviewers don’t have to make rushed assessments or rely on shorthand or feverish note taking. Questions and candidate information are also displayed alongside the video screen so interviewers don’t have to worry about frantically scanning through paper scorecards to make sure they didn’t miss anything.

Instead, hiring teams can focus on better engaging with candidates and developing more meaningful connections. Recordings give interviewers the opportunity to comprehend and reflect on candidates’ responses, and confirm they didn’t misinterpret anything that could effect their scores. Solutions like Clovers takes things a step further by making interviewers submit their candidate scorecards before seeing the rest of the hiring team’s. This ensures scores are kept private and all candidates receive a fair and consistent evaluation.

Any team looking to make great hires should employ an interview scoring system. With the use of a rating system it’s easier for hiring teams to collaborate and evaluate candidates fairly and effectively. Intelligent interview solutions like Clovers improve even more upon that process—resulting in better interviews, better hires and organizational growth.