Many hiring managers, even in this day and age, prefer to conduct unstructured interviews. In an unstructured interview, there’s no predefined format or interview scorecard, and the intention is to give candidates greater flexibility to respond spontaneously.
In an ideal world, unstructured interviews would be the perfect solution for tough hiring decisions. But unfortunately, hiring managers work in a world of strict labor legislation, candidates who are not always candid, and constant pressure to fill vacancies.
What is an interview scorecard?
An interview scorecard is used by recruiters and employers in the interview process. It’s a pre-determined set of criteria which is often set against soft and hard skills required for the role. Each member of the hiring team will fill in an interview scorecard for every candidate. They’ll then compare individual scores to determine the most successful candidate, and thus, the candidate that will turn into an employee.
Interview scorecards are unique to the hiring team and open role being interviewed for. However, as a rule of thumb, they often include:
- Soft and hard skills on a ranking scale
- Cultural fit
- Notes describing candidate’s answers to questions
- Areas of concern or weakness
- Suitability to the role, and a hire/not hire recommendation
The purpose of interview scorecards
Comprehensive job descriptions and interview scorecards are hiring tools that work together to form the foundation of structured interviews. Without a well-defined job description, you wouldn’t be able to compile a comprehensive scorecard.
The purpose of a scorecard is to question candidates on specific requirements that are essential to the job that they’re being interviewed for and evaluate their responses. That’s why understanding the job description is vital so that the questions on the scorecard are pointed and pertinent to the role.
An interview scorecard must be created before the vacancy is posted to job boards or on social media. This is so that every member of the hiring team knows the key criteria before screening any applications.
In the initial application screening phase, a scorecard can help recruiters eliminate unsuitable applications very quickly and reduce time-wasting.
The ideal interview scorecard should include a number of questions relating to relevant skills, desirable personality traits, and specific work experience.
It’s impossible to recommend how many questions should be on the scorecard because each job has different requirements. It’s highly dependent on the role, the business, and the hiring team. It’s advisable, though, to have a few well-thought-out and constructed questions rather than too many vague questions.
Although it does take some time upfront to compile a potential scorecard for each vacancy, the benefit of better hiring decisions makes the effort worthwhile.
Interview scorecards must consider the candidate experience
Candidates evaluate your employer brand from the very first contact they have with you. The candidate experience reaches way beyond whether they become an employee or not. A lousy candidate experience can not only negatively affect your employer brand, but your brand reputation and sales as well.
Structured interviews can come across as stilted and impersonal if the interviewer doesn’t explain the process to candidates upfront. Using an interview scorecard can extend the interview time as well.
The best approach is to inform candidates who are selected for interviews what the process will be when the initial interview is confirmed. Advise candidates in writing that your company uses a structured interview process that includes interview scorecards. Also, indicate how long the interview can be expected to last.
Explain what a scorecard is and how it’s used to guarantee a fair hiring process due to all candidates being evaluated on the same questions. It’s a good idea to send candidates a copy of the scorecard that will be used during the interview so that they can prepare beforehand.
Some hiring managers could be concerned that sending the scorecard beforehand can lead to candidates giving contrived answers, but that’s not true. If your hiring process includes skills and personality assessments, past employment references, and other verifications, fakes will easily be exposed.
If you’ll be conducting video interviews, sending the scorecard through beforehand can be particularly handy. Video interviews can have some candidates feeling disconnected from the interviewer, making them feel tense. With the scorecard in hand when the discussions start, candidates can feel more comfortable with the process.
It’s also beneficial to explain to candidates that the conversation will be slower because you (or any other interviewer) will be taking notes, and that will also lead to less eye contact. There’s nothing wrong with this, and most candidates will welcome the heads up.
Some candidates, especially if they’re a little nervous, can feel obliged to fill silences during an interview making the situation awkward. By telling them upfront that there will be short silences, you give them the opportunity to take some deep breaths and relax while you’re taking notes.
The value of giving candidates a copy of the scorecard outweighs the risks by far. It indicates to candidates that your company observes fair hiring practices, is open and transparent, and values the candidate experience.
10 immediate benefits of interview scorecards
Even though some people see scorecards as unnecessary time-wasting, by training your hiring team, the value will quickly become apparent.
These 10 benefits of interview scorecards during interviews will convince even the most stubborn skeptics on your hiring team that scorecards are the way forward:
- Interview scorecards allow hiring team members to analyze and fully understand the job criteria before the interviews start.
- They also eliminate unrealistic expectations that can cause jobs to remain open for extended periods, negatively affecting a department’s performance.
- Interview scorecards are excellent tools in panel interviews because each panel member’s observations can lead to a more fair assessment in final group scoring.
- When a candidate attends a series of separate interviews, a scorecard can measure the consistency of the candidate’s responses.
- Team collaboration before and after interviews means that scorecards encourage collaborative hiring.
- Interview scorecards can eliminate personal bias during interviews, and post-interview, team members can identify if anyone unknowingly harbors personal prejudices.
- Due to interview scorecards, interviewers can stay focused on the job requirements only, leading to consistent interviews and ethical decision-making.
- If you have large teams with specific skill requirements, you can standardize and use the same scorecard repeatedly throughout your company.
- If the compilation of a scorecard results in consistently high-quality hires, you can use it to train and upskill existing staff.
- When you’re interviewing, a scorecard helps you remember each person, eliminating the mental blur recruiters can experience when they see too many candidates.
Simplify interview scorecards with an ATS
Interview scorecards can be compiled manually and shared via email, but that leaves the whole process open to misinterpretation, human error, and even scorecards being ignored. That could mean that despite the best intentions of some hiring team members, poor hiring decisions will still be a reality.
An ATS allows you to select different templates for each vacancy to compile comprehensive job descriptions and scorecards, simplifying the whole process. With all team members tracking and sharing information, misinterpretation and human error are eliminated. Team member’s notes are immediately available to the hiring team, and candidate scores are easily accessible.
This makes hiring decisions based on fair and transparent interview processes a reality, and all records are maintained and stored for future use if necessary. Another advantage of using an ATS is that if the company is accused of unfair hiring practices or biases, records taken from the ATS will be admissible as evidence in the company’s defense.