Author’s note: I first published this piece on interview scorecards when the job market was in chaos. At the time of publication, thousands of Americans were just laid off and they flooded into applications. Even as the job market fluctuates, the need for an interview scorecard stays. This valuable tool will better your interview process.
As modern executives strive to find the most effective ways to hire employees in 2023, a key component of their strategy is the development and use of interview scorecards. With the pace of technology and economic changes, executives have discovered that using scorecards during interviews gives them more precise measures to compare prospective candidates and makes it easier to identify top talent. Ultimately, relying on comprehensively developed scorecards can help executives be more efficient with time, as well as improve their chances of connecting with the right candidates who will help drive sustainable business growth.
Recently, a surge of applicants flooded the talent pool. Hiring managers tell me they see hundreds and sometimes more than one thousand applicants for a position. When an overwhelmed manager asks me how to filter through, I share one of Talentfoot’s most reliable and important hiring tools: the candidate scorecard.
You need to find a stellar digital marketer, but the amount of responses is daunting. Recruiters face this challenge frequently. Allow me to let you in on a little secret. The most equitable and efficient way to select a candidate is with a scorecard.
What is a candidate scorecard? Built In offers this definition, “[scorecards] are standardized evaluations by which interviewers assess and compare multiple candidates on an established rating system.”
These tools enable interviewers to make objective hiring decisions. A numerical system simplifies the process and provides interviewers with a concrete assessment of candidates. This also gives each interviewer only one aspect of the hiring process on which to focus.
In a piece he wrote for the Harvard Business Review, executive coach Ben Dattner commented, “By using a quantitative interview scorecard to evaluate the qualifications and suitability of job candidates, and by comparing interview-based predictions with subsequent performance on the job, it’s possible to boost your interview hit rate and your organization’s return on human capital investment over time.”
Follow these simple steps every time you need to fill a position.
Step One: Customize Your Scorecard
Every person involved in the hiring process should understand the purpose of the scorecard and review it.
A scorecard provides a method for all interviewers to follow. Built In says, “[they] allow for different interviewers to extract similar information from candidates and compare their notes in a standardized process.”
The purpose is to minimize bias and get every interviewer to judge candidates on a similar scale. “Asking all candidates a standard set of good interview questions can also boost the accuracy of the hiring process,” says Dattner.
Invite all stakeholders to participate in the creation of the scorecard. The group should decide what hard and soft skills are mission-critical to the job and how they should be judged. Additionally, the stakeholders need to set expectations of what the individual will bring to the table as it relates to a track record of success.
Different stakeholders are responsible for evaluating different areas of the scorecard. For example, for each candidate, hiring manager Joe will only evaluate soft skills, and Michelle will only evaluate hard skills.
Lastly, a new scorecard should be created for every individual job.
Step Two: Identify the Hard Skill Questions
I recommend splitting your scorecard into two sections: soft and hard skills. The split should be approximately 60% hard and 40% soft.
First, the “hard” stuff. These skills are typically learned. Some examples are paid media, math, coding, analytics, digital marketing, social media, and project management.
Each question should have a ranking. Talentfoot scorecards typically use a scale of one to five points with the total points possible around 50. Try to keep your scorecard evaluation between six and ten skills.
The more senior the role, the broader the category should be. The more junior the role, the more you can focus on more specialized skills like a marketing automation tool or content management system.
The stakeholders must agree on how each response will be scored. For example, if a candidate needs five years’ experience using Pardot, and they have three years using the tool, a candidate earns three points.
Step Three: Identify the Soft Skill Questions
Soft skills are not as easy to assess. These attributes demonstrate interpersonal skills, or a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively.
Questions in this section can address cultural fit with your organization and leadership skills.
One important aspect of the interview process is deciding who will ask these questions. Think about whose soft skills you admire within your organization. Who would you like to replicate with this hire?
Let’s say you are hiring for a client-facing role. You need someone who is really good at building rapport. When it’s time to interview, put yourself in your client’s shoes. Do you feel like you made a personal connection within the first few minutes of the meeting with the candidate?
If the soft skill is around leadership, use behavioral interview questions. Ask the candidate to share a situation where they had to make a difficult decision leading people. Ask, “How are you leading your team through this crisis?” Use questions that require a candidate to show tangible results.
Step Four: Identify Your Top Candidates
In a time when you may get hundreds of applicants, you need a way to manage all of that data. If you don’t have one already, subscribe to an applicant tracking system (ATS). You can purchase a professional system or build a makeshift tool in Excel.
The ATS must include anyone you are pursuing or interested in pursuing and identify each person as an employee referral, someone to headhunt, or an applicant. The spreadsheet should have each name, title, employer, city, state, LinkedIn address, the status of your communication, and where they are in the interview process. Color code your candidates so you know where they stand in the hiring process.
Most importantly, the ATS needs a place to incorporate your scorecard rankings. The system can automatically tabulate the results. When you share the ATS amongst the stakeholders, everyone can see the scores.
Step Five: Calculate the Scores
After each interview, the interviewer should insert their scores into the ATS. Set up a meeting for the managers to debrief. We recommend a short fifteen-minute gathering after each interview.
When you look at the scores, you will know which candidates meet your baseline requirements, and which exceed them. You have a robust picture of your candidate and a much better idea of how they will perform if you extend an offer.
Get a Sample Scorecard
If you want to determine whether a candidate is a right fit, standardize your questions across the hiring team and minimize unconscious biases.