Interview scorecards: 10 immediate benefits your team could be missing

Many hiring managers still 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.

This combination of realities is fertile ground for poor hiring decisions. That’s why every company, irrespective of size, should introduce structured interview processes that include scorecards.

The purpose of interview scorecards

Comprehensive job descriptions and interview scorecards are hiring tools that together 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 compiled before the vacancy is posted to job boards or on social media. This is so that every member of the hiring team knows what the key criteria are 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 comprise of 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 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 up front. 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 that it’s used to ensure a fair hiring process because all candidates are 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.

Also explain to candidates that the conversation will be slower because you (or any other interviewer) will be making 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 making notes.

The value of giving candidates a copy of the scorecard by far outweighs the risks. It indicates to candidates that your company observes fair hiring practices, is open and transparent and values the candidate experience.

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.

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