Conducting interviews can be the most inspiring (and involved) part of the hiring process. As education organizations, our aim is to collaborate with coworkers who push us towards our impact-driven missions while getting the job done. Sometimes, identifying those coworkers seems impossible. But it doesn’t have to be. That’s where the power of interview scorecards comes into play.
For years, the private sector has used interview scorecards to successfully vet candidates. This popular tool not only helps thousands of companies decrease their employee turnover. It also increases their bottom line.
For the education field, our bottom line is our kids. Every day, we strive to make sure our children have the access, resources and support they need to learn and prosper. The only way we’re able to do that is by having the right people in place to achieve that goal.
So why haven’t more education organizations adopted this hiring method? A few trailblazing organizations have effectively woven interview scorecards into their success stories. After reading this, we hope you’ll be able to do the same.
If you’re wondering “what is an interview scorecard?”, here’s a quick definition:
“An interview score sheet is a tool used by hiring managers to evaluate job candidates as they give responses to interview questions. A typical score sheet is set up so the interviewer assigns a candidate a numerical value for each question to reflect the relative quality of the candidate’s answer.” (Reference.com)
In this blog, we’ll discuss:
- Why your organization needs to utilize an interview scorecard
- The benefits of having an interview scorecard
- How to create an interview scorecard
- Best practices of using an interview scorecard
- How other education organizations have used interview scorecards in their hiring process
At the end of this blog, you’ll see how interview scorecards serve as an important tool for discovering amazing talent in your candidate pipeline.
Why Your Organization Needs Interview Scorecards
The more structured the interview, the less likely you are to make a decision based off of bias, emotion or inconsistent factors. One way to mitigate your bias is to base your candidates’ performance off of tangible data.
Make Evidence-Based Decisions
Instead of relying on gut feelings, use your interview scorecard. It allows you to base your hiring decisions on more-firm evidence. Evidence can be anything from jobseeker quotes, weighted scores, to staff feedback. Harvard Business Review discovered that: “Decades of industrial psychology research has found the validity or predictive power of a typical unstructured job interview is around 20%, meaning that only one in five interviews increases the baseline odds that a hired candidate will be successful.”
To increase your chances of making a successful hire, utilize your scorecard.
Collect Feedback from Everyone
Some people are more outspoken than others during the interview process. Interview scorecards provide a simple, easy way to collect feedback from everyone who’s involved in the interview process. This especially helps those who are on the quiet side, thereby increasing buy-in to the final hiring decision.
Stay on Track
Interview scorecards function as a guide. Following the questions during the interview will keep you focused. You will avoid getting off topic and are less likely to waste time.
Staying on track also means being intentional about maintaining a uniform interview process.
Interview scorecards give your applicants equal and fair consideration during the interview process. Candidates are asked the same questions and the regimented scoring system measures the weight of their answers. This process reduces the ability for race, age, gender, or other factors to be used to discriminate.
Not only does it explain your decision to move forward with a candidate, but it also objectively explains your decision not to hire someone.
We’ve talked about why your organization needs a scorecard. Now, let’s explore some of the benefits of using them!
Benefits of Having an Interview Scorecard
Creates an inclusive and diverse hiring process
Interview scorecards are an important component of Diversity and Inclusion intervention. These frameworks reduce the opportunity for bias to manipulate hiring decisions, increasing the likelihood that traditionally-marginalized candidates will be fairly considered for the role.
Using the scorecard consistently, and in the right manner, can provide equal opportunity for all candidates, resulting in better hiring decisions in the long run.
Hire for Strengths
Interview scorecards can highlight your applicant’s strengths for the role. They can also help you re-evaluate how you weigh and perceive their weaknesses.
Interview scorecards give more weight to the skills pertinent to the role and less weight to the nice-to-haves. So if a candidate does well on the important questions but not so well on the less important ones – they’re still in the running for the role.
The innate nature of a scorecard provides a checks-and-balances system. This allows organizations to make more fact-based, accurate decisions.
Advanced Pro-Tip: Harvard Business Review concluded, “by correlating your predictions with candidates’ actual performance on the job, you can also get quantitative feedback about your accuracy at assessing different criteria.”
Rocky Mountain Public (RMP) was on the verge of opening two new schools. With two schools already under their belt, they needed a sustainable way to scale their hiring process. By implementing scorecards into their hiring process, they were able to:
- Clearly define the expected outputs from a potential candidate for the first 3 years of employment.
- Outline the skills, behaviors, and competencies necessary for success in the role.
- Use scorecards as the foundation for goal-setting and performance discussions
- Easily point back to the scorecard as the quantitative measure of fit.
RPM had such a great experience with scorecards, they’re using them throughout their organization. They’re mainly used for central office positions and a few school-based roles. The RPM team is “learning things about candidates during the new interview process that we wouldn’t have caught in our old model.”
Now that you’ve seen how Rocky Mountain Prep utilizes scorecards, let’s dig into how you can create your own.
How to Create an Interview Scorecard
Create an interview scorecard for each stage of the process
Depending on the way your team hires, you may want to create an interview scorecard for each step of the process. Use the card during phone screening, first, second and final interviews to keep the assessment process consistent. Applying the scorecard format to non-interview steps, such as assigned work samples, is also a best practice. Such consistency can also surface any candidates who may have missed a step in the process for whatever reason.
(Sidenote: For an example of how organizations use scorecards to assess candidates throughout the entire hiring process, refer to the case study we mentioned earlier to see how Rocky Mountain Prep did it. They go into detail in the “Probe for Evidence and Alignment with the Scorecard” section.)
Now, let’s learn how to create an interview scorecard by exploring in more detail the four things every scorecard must contain.
The interview scorecard should consist of 4 things:
1. The base qualifications, educational, occupational requirements
Establish your base qualifications for the job; your must-haves.
These are the basic qualifications, education, training, years of work experience, and skills needed for this role. Next, identify the must-haves you can evaluate before the interview (i.e. resume, written statement). We know not everything can be assessed in advance. For the rest of the must-haves, you’ll have to find out during the interview.
After you determine your base qualifications, assign binary answers (yes/no) to those requirements.
In other words, when it comes to a must-have requirement, you either meet it or you don’t. For example, if a master’s degree is truly a must-have, base qualification, then all candidates who don’t have it should be rejected 100% of the time. (Note: If you wouldn’t feel comfortable rejecting 100% of candidates who don’t have a master’s degree, then it is not a must-have, base requirement).
Once you’ve decided on the base qualifications, determine the level of importance for each qualification.
For example, having a master’s degree for your role might be at a level 3 (importance) vs the candidate having amazing public speaking skills may be a level 5. To do so, determine the weight of each base qualification by the level of importance.
- 5 = Very Important
- 4 = Important
- 3 = An Asset
- 2 = Somewhat Beneficial
- 1 = Little Importance
Now, it’s time to grade the level of competency for each qualification.
Once a candidate passes the must-have bar and receives a “Yes”, then you should grade those that pass the bar to indicate how far above the bar they are (think PhD’s versus Master’s). To do so, determine the weight of each base qualification by the level of the candidate’s competence or performance.
- 5 = Elite
- 4 = Outstanding
- 3 = Above-Average
- 2 = Average
- 1 = Basic
For example, if a candidate surpassed the basic requirement (Master’s) with a PhD, that person would likely receive a 5.
You’ll want to multiply your base weight for that qualification by the score you gave the candidate for their level of competency. At the end, add the totals from these questions at the end of the scorecard. Let’s give it a try below.
- Make a list of your base qualifications, education, training, and occupational requirements. Then add their respective weights to the importance and competency levels.
- Keep in mind, if you have too many must-haves that have a 1 or 2 ranking in terms of importance, ask yourself if it is really a “must-have”. Would you reject 100% of candidates who don’t meet that bar, regardless of how they perform on ANY other factor? If not, you should list it as an attribute. We’ll discuss those in the next section.
2. The attributes
Be specific in what attributes you’re looking for in a candidate.
Define the attributes. Create sample answers for what you may be looking for so people can have an idea for how to score/rank the answer.
Break the attributes into categories that fit:
- The role itself
- Your company’s values
- The community’s needs
Make sure the attributes don’t overlap with each other.
Delete any attributes that seem redundant. This will make the scoring part of the interview process simple and clear.
All the attributes listed should tell a collective story of the person you’re trying to hire.
Make sure the attributes are realistic and relevant to the role. You want a system that can help you actually find someone who can fill the role.
Make your attribute list short.
Only include the most pertinent attributes to your interview scorecard. For entry-level and mid-management positions, you may have 3-5 attributes per category. If you’re interviewing for Director level or C-Suite positions, it’s a different story. You may want to add more depending on the complexity of the role.
Now, let’s put what you’ve learned into practice. Here’s your first assignment.
- Once your attributes are established, create a list of the top 7-10 questions that map to the attributes.
- Write down your ideal answers.
- When you’re conducting the interview, remember, you should take notes on each interview response. However, you’re scoring the attribute, not the question. For example, say that you have two questions that apply to the same attribute. Consider how they answered both questions within that attribute category. Then, give the attribute an overall rating.
- If you want to have extra questions to ask, determine which ones they are. Then, determine when it’s appropriate to use them during the interview and which attributes they map to.
Now that you’ve identified the crucial attributes for your role and mapped interview questions to each attribute, you need to establish HOW you’re going to measure the attributes.
3. A weight assigned to each attribute
Besides creating well-thought-out questions, know how to qualify and quantify your responses. Your scoring system should allow you to:
- Make simple calculations.
- Determine how your team feels about a candidate.
- Increase and encourage communication among your team.
- Allow you to move quickly. Speed is vital and the competition is fierce for strong candidates. So you have to be able to make a sound decision in the best and fastest way possible.
- Tell the difference between great candidates, good candidates, average candidates, and those who are a bad fit. The less Maybe ratings the better.
When you get to this stage, you’re going to use a weighted scale system to rate a candidate’s competency. Ask your team, on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the most important, where do these attributes fall?
This thinking allows your organization to evaluate JobSeeker performance on all fronts.
Ready to give it a try? Here’s your second assignment.
- Write every attribute and question you’ve developed for the interview scorecard in order of importance.
- Rate and weigh the attributes by importance. When you’re using the interview scorecard, these ratings will remain the same for the entire team. Use the following ranking:
- 5 = Very Important
- 4 = Important
- 3 = An Asset
- 2 = Somewhat Beneficial
- 1 = Little Importance
Create an assessment rating for the candidate’s answer. When you’re using the scorecard during the interview, these ratings will differ. This section is subjective to the interviewers’ opinion of how the candidate did.
- 5 = Outstanding
- 4 = High
- 3 = Average
- 2 = Basic
- 1 = Limited
Using this system, multiply the criteria weighting by the candidate assessment score. This yields a total score for each question. Then add them all to arrive at a final weighted score. Use this score to compare it to other candidates.
Decide what number range qualifies as a great candidate, a good candidate, an okay candidate and a pass. For example, say your maximum score is 200, then perhaps a great candidate’s score ranges from 170 – 200. If someone’s final score is 150, they could be a good candidate. From there, dig into seeing where they performed the strongest. This will help you determine if they have what it takes to be in the running for the role.
Remember, your rating scale must help you decide which candidates to move forward.
We’ve covered all the numerical data. It’s time to discuss where to put your general comments about a candidate.
4. A section for notes, comments and recommendations
This space captures the nuances of the interview that aren’t explained numerically. If there is something specific the candidate said that’s impressive or concerning, jot it down here. Share with the hiring team when you debrief.
Your Last Assignment:
- Consider what you want to have in this feedback section. It could be comments, concerns, jobseeker quotes, or post-interview follow up questions.
- Give examples of feedback you’d like to see in this section so your team knows where to put it during the interview.
- Also, having a separate document where you can take detailed notes during the interview is helpful. If you ever need to refer back to it, you’ll have everything in one place.
Curious how other education organizations implemented interview scorecards in their hiring process? Here is an example of how Ednovate did it.
So far, we’ve discussed why you need interview scorecards, their benefits, and how to put one together. In this last section, we’ll explore how to put in place these best practices so you can hire the best candidates.
Best Practices of Using an Interview Scorecard
Before the Interview
Assemble a diverse interview panel
Having a panel with diverse backgrounds and perspectives helps your team avoid the “like me” hiring trap. Not that there’s anything wrong with you – but it is human nature to think more highly of people who are similar to us – which causes bias. Not to mention, hiring for “culture fit” limits your organization’s potential. You’ll miss out on diversity in viewpoints and creative problem-solving strategies, to name a few. It’s good to have at least 2 people per interview round. It can reduce bias and create a check and balance system during the evaluation part of the interview.
Diverse hiring panels can help you identify candidates who will add to your culture, not just fit in. To learn more about culture add versus culture fit, read our blog post on the “4 Hiring Traps Education Employers Frequently Fall Into.”
Once you’ve decided who’s going to be on the interview panel, schedule a meeting to put the interview scorecard together.
Collaborate with the hiring team to create interview scorecard criteria, format and calculations
You’ll want to start by defining what short-term success looks like for this role (90 days). Next, define what long-term success looks like (365 days). Lastly, establish what skills, traits and qualifications would make a candidate successful in this role. Use this information as a reference point for your scorecard. You’ll apply this information when you’re developing your criteria, the scores, and calculations. Without a consensus, each team member may default to their own criteria to assess the candidates. This is why it is important to reach a common understanding and team buy-in of the scoring criteria.
Reiterate the scoring criteria for that particular role.
After your panel establishes the use and scoring system for your interview scorecard, stick to it! Include a how-to guide for your team to review independently before the interview. Clearly define the criteria, weighted scores and rating system on the interview scorecard. Together, before the interview, emphasize which strengths everyone should be looking for. You’ll also want to go over how to calculate the scores as well.
Now, let’s cover how to use the scorecard in the interview.
During the Interview
Engage with the candidate
Acknowledge the scorecard at the beginning of the interview. Let the candidate know you’re taking notes ahead of time. It can make them feel a little more comfortable and less nervous.
Even though you’re writing down answers, do it quickly. Engage the candidate via eye contact, and active listening.
Use the same interview scorecard with each potential candidate
Remember, consistency is key. It’s important to maintain the same process for every candidate you interview; after all, the purpose of this rating system is to allow your team to assess candidates in a fair and consistent manner. Be sure everyone on the hiring team uses the same interview scorecard throughout the interview process.
When the interview is over, it’s time to calculate your answers and share your observations.
After the Interview
For each round, have your interviewers fill out the interview scorecard and debrief together.
After each interview, your team should fill out their scorecards independently. Once everyone’s done, take a moment to discuss everyone’s impressions.
Debriefs give your team a way to address any biases, assumptions or major discrepancies. Reference the interview scorecard during your debriefing. It maintains a neutral atmosphere and measures candidates in a uniform manner. This helps quantify why you qualified a new hire (as well as why you chose to go in a different direction with others). It helps to view the interview scorecard and resume side by side to get a full scope of the candidate. Keep in mind, you want to base your insight on observational behaviors and hard evidence. Include direct quotes from the candidate’s answers, weighted scores, and resume alignment.
Consider your interview scorecard a working document
After a few rounds of interviews, your team will get the hang of using the scorecards. But don’t consider them set in stone. Feel free to adjust them as needed, as a team.
Change your interview scorecard if:
- Your questions or scoring criteria favors certain biases
- Your scorecard neglects to highlight important requirements needed to perform in that role
- Your scorecard is not adequately differentiating between candidates
Vet your interview scorecard over time to make sure it’s helping your organization achieve your goals.
There are different ways to format and copulate your interview scorecard. Here a few additional references to help you develop your own.
Smart Recruiter’s seminar on The Ultimate Scorecard offers great insight on how to use an interview scorecard. It hits on best practices, do’s and don’ts, and other useful tips on how to apply them in your hiring process.
Examples of various interview scorecard formats
- Hargan Notebook
- Recruiting Social
- Sample Templates
- The Management Center
- UNCW (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
At the end of the day, we’re all trying to multiply our impact by adding passionate, result-driven members to our team. The better we do that, the more effective we are as an organization and as change agents in our communities. Interview scorecards are just one of the tools that can help us get there.
We hope this blog was helpful! If you found the information useful, let us know! Send us a message on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter or in the comment section below. If your team needs support recruiting amazing jobseekers for your education organization, sign up as a WorkMonger Employer! Let us do the heavy lifting so you can focus on other important things, like – conducting interviews!
Until next time: Stand out. Do Good!