Once an interview ends, filling out a candidate scorecard is the crucial step that turns signal gathered into coherent, useful analysis to inform a hiring decision. But, most hiring managers can likely empathize with the frustration of opening an interviewer’s scorecard only to find it’s sparsely populated or lacking any insights that help build a clearer picture of the candidate.
Though interview scorecards play a critical role in making sound hiring decisions, their objective is often misunderstood, and it can be tough to know what an impactful scorecard looks like. This post is intended for hiring managers looking to arm their interviewers with actionable advice to improve their scorecards and, of course, interviewers themselves. It’s important to remember that writing a scorecard effectively starts as soon as the interview does—which is why investing in a high-quality process upfront is a necessary foundation that starts well before an interviewer sits down to submit feedback.
Interview scorecards should inform the thesis on a candidate
Before understanding what to look for in a strong interview scorecard, everyone needs to be clear on the role a scorecard plays in the overall interview process. The objective of a scorecard is to shed light on different parts of a candidate such that the combination of all scorecards helps the hiring team members create a thesis on whether or not a candidate is a fit. One interview can’t get all of the signal needed to make a hiring decision, but the collection of all interviews for any given candidate must provide the necessary information. Scorecards should give hiring managers a clear picture of how a candidate fares across a set of attributes and how those attributes manifest themselves as strengths or weaknesses.
Be clear that interviewers are not making a hiring decision
Interviewers often mistakenly go into an interview thinking, “I’m making a hiring decision.” This is a common misconception that requires a mindset shift: interviewers should instead see their mission as shedding light on a relatively small part of a person that will serve as one data point in a larger decision. Clarifying this mindset also helps to avoid situations where an interviewer might feel confused or offended when the hiring manager ultimately makes a decision that goes against their recommendation. I even go so far as to say that individual interviewers don’t have the appropriate context to give a yes/no recommendation on whether a candidate should be hired. Instead, they should give a recommendation only on the candidate’s ability to deliver on the particular attributes they were responsible for assessing.
Strong interview scorecard feedback is opinionated, relevant to the rubric, and acknowledges unknowns
Now that we’ve clarified the objective of an interview scorecard and the role an interviewer plays in the hiring process, what does an effective scorecard look like? These are some of the guiding principles I look for in a scorecard that is robust enough to meaningfully contribute to a hiring decision.
Interviewers should put their neck on the line when writing a scorecard. The least helpful thing to see is a lukewarm scorecard with recommendations like “soft yes” or “soft no”. Repeating what a candidate said isn’t enough—scorecards need to include an educated opinion on what the interviewer made of the responses, not leave it up to the hiring manager to form one themselves.The interviewer also needs to give context on why and how they formed that opinion, using concrete examples to back up their judgements. Even if an interviewer formed an opinion based on a feeling, it’s useful for a hiring manager to understand which bits of feedback are subjective and which are based in fact.
Stick to the rubric in question
A good scorecard sticks to providing feedback on the attributes the interviewer is tasked with assessing in candidates. For example, one of the attributes we look for in our interviews at Metaview is Data Modeling, so I expect our interview scorecards to call out how a candidate performed against that attribute, with specific examples of strengths and weaknesses. In most cases, interview notes and feedback on candidates should strictly focus on the attributes in question and avoid tangents that can bias opinion. If an interviewer includes notes in their scorecard about a candidate’s hobbies or personal interests, for example, that can likely unfairly skew perception, which degrades the credibility of the interviewer’s entire assessment.
It’s okay not to be sure
No one interview can cover everything that needs to be investigated. Interviewers shouldn’t be afraid to include hypotheses they didn’t get a chance to verify or falsify. An interviewer might say something like “I think this person might break under pressure sooner than we’d expect,” which is something that could later be dug into in other interviews. Interviewers should note things they wish they could contribute to or what they would need to know to have a more confident opinion to evaluate candidates, but didn’t have the time.
With detailed, opinionated scorecards that address all of the relevant attributes, a hiring manager’s job becomes much easier and everyone is more likely to benefit from bringing the right people onto the team. The debrief is a great opportunity for hiring managers to give feedback on the quality of the scorecards and note what was helpful or not in informing the ultimate decision. (If you’re a hiring manager looking for advice on how to run effective debriefs, check out our recent guide.)
And if you’re looking to take your scorecard quality to the next level, you might be interested in checking out Metaview. We offer automated, virtual interviewer training which includes submitting, and getting feedback on, mock scorecards so interviewers know how to give impactful feedback and more effectively evaluate candidates even before they run their first interview.