Interviewing

What Is an Interview Rating Scale and How To Create Your Own

September 9, 2021

Interviewing candidates for open positions is an important part of building a successful team. It can be hard to know what to look for in a candidate without the proper preparation. Interview rating scales can help you manage the interview process by creating a guide for each interview. In this article, we discuss what is an interview rating scale, why they are important, how to create one, four benefits, as well as a template and example you can use when creating your own scale.

What is the interview rating scale?

An interview rating scale is a guide you can use to measure a candidate based on their aptitude for an open position at your company. Creating an interview rating scale can help you compare candidates fairly to determine the best person for the job. Pre-planned questions and rating scales can create a productive interview that answers important questions about a candidate's capabilities, instead of relying on an interviewer's preference.

When using an interview rating sheet, the interviewer gives the candidate a score based on how well they answer a question. Each question addresses a specific skill or qualification of the candidate. If their answer addresses that skill in the way the interviewer is looking for, the candidate receives a high rating. At the end of the interview, the interviewer compiles the candidate's ratings into an overall score. The interviewer can compare these ratings and overall scores to the other candidates to determine who is most appropriate for the job.

Interview rating scales typically include the following parts:

  • Responses to individual questions: This part of the rating scale judges soft skills like the candidate's communication skills or problem-solving ability. In this part of the rating scale, an interviewer can judge how well the candidate handled the questions and if they seem prepared to take on the position.
  • Job-related competencies: This part of the rating scale addresses hard skills like technical abilities or education. The interviewer can determine if they have the qualifications for the role, and record it here.
  • Overall interview score: The overall score addresses how well the interview went, including the interviewer's initial impression of the candidate.

Read more: How To Interview Someone for a Job: 12 Steps for a Successful Interview

Why is an interview rating scale important?

An interview rating scale is important because it minimizes the potential for bias in the hiring process. Using the rating scale can help you understand what you are looking for in a candidate beyond how well you get along with someone. Having a list of requirements can help you stay focused during the interview, and it can provide you with a place to take notes so you can remember important information about the interview afterward.

Focusing on these aspects of the interview can improve your selection of potential candidates. Having a strong, competent team that works well together is essential to growing your business. Incorporating an interview rating scale can improve your recruitment process by helping interviewers focus on candidates' competencies. Using this system, you can have more success matching candidates with the right positions based on their abilities.

Related: How To Structure Interview Questions

How to create an interview rating scale

An interview rating scale is something that you can personalize to each position you interview for so you can focus on the needs of each position. You can follow these steps to create an interview rating scale that helps you conduct productive interviews:

1. Ask your team about their needs

When establishing what criteria a new hire should have, incorporate the needs of the team. Ask members of the department what they expect from the person filling the open position, including what technical skills they need, as well as any soft skills that the team uses regularly. Gathering input from the team can make sure that you're addressing every necessary competency in the interview. The team may have ideas of what they need that you may not have considered. It can also help the team accept the new hire easier because they feel involved in the hiring process.

Related: Interviewing an Employee: How To Successfully Conduct an Interview

2. Establish clear ratings for each requirement

After establishing what the team is looking for in a new hire, think about the parameters of those requirements so you can fairly judge the candidates against your expectations. Creating clear and well-rounded requirements is essential to a functional rating system. Establishing these requirements before the interview can help you stay focused on the qualities you are looking for when you are in the interview. This can focus your questions and make for a more productive interview.

When creating your rating system, outline what each score represents. For example, if you are using a rating system of 1 through 5, establish the following for each rating:

  • 1 is no experience with the qualification
  • 2 is limited experience with the qualification
  • 3 is standard experience with the qualification
  • 4 is multiple extensive experiences with the qualification
  • 5 is extensive and exceptional experience with the qualification

Related: How To Create an Effective Interview Structure

3. Leave room for comments

The rating system provides structure to an interview, but there are always additional elements that may come up. Your initial impressions of a candidate may not be the most important aspect of the interview, but it can still be an important factor in determining their appropriateness for the role. On your review sheet, it's important to leave room for your impressions or any additional comments you want to make.

For example, if an interviewer doesn't have experience with a specific qualification but does have related skills that can transfer to the role, you can make a note of that in the comments. Those comments help you remember that, though they may have a low rating, there are other aspects of their candidacy that are appealing. This helps keep your interview process fair and well-rounded.

Related: How To Interview Someone for a Job

What are the benefits of an interview rating scale?

Using an interview rating scale can improve your recruiting practice and ensure that you hire competent employees with the potential to excel at your company. Here are some of the specific benefits of using a rating scale:

1. Helps you focus

Creating a rating system before you conduct an interview can prevent you from getting distracted by irrelevant information and focus on the questions you want to ask. It's common to ask follow-up questions or to follow a line of inquiry until you feel you have the information you need. However, if you don't have a guide, this can lead to a lengthy conversation that may not help you determine if the candidate has the relevant qualifications. Following a guide can help you stay on topic and remember the questions you want to ask.

Related: Your Guide on How to Be a Good Interviewer

2. Provides a record

After an interview, it can be hard to remember what you learned from the candidate. Using a rating scale can provide a written record of what you discussed and your initial impression of a candidate. You can refer to that record as often as necessary during the interview process. This can help you provide information to managers, so to prepare them to meet with candidates advancing through the interview process. A record can also be useful if you want to refer to why you didn't select a candidate for a position.

Related: 30 Things an Interviewer Should Look For in an Interview

3. Ensures fairness

A common mistake made in interviews is putting too much faith in initial impressions, which can give too much importance to bias. For example, if a hiring manager and a candidate get along well, it can unconsciously affect the hiring manager's perception of their competency, disregarding their skills or qualifications. Using a rating scale considers the hiring managers' initial impression, but it weighs that opinion against other important factors, like how much experience they have and whether they have the qualifications. A fair hiring practice is more likely to result in a competent hire with longevity at the company.

Related: A Guide To Structured Interviews (With Example Questions and Answers)

4. Helps you keep track of candidates

The more candidates you interview, the harder it can be to differentiate their skills and experiences in your mind. It can become difficult to remember what questions you have asked a candidate or their specific answers. Rating scales can give you a quick reference for each candidate. Things like how long ago an interview was, or how similar two candidates are to each other, can affect how well you remember the specifics of an interview. Instead of relying on your memory, a rating scale gives you concrete evaluations you can use to compare and contrast candidates.

Related: The Steps of the Interview Process

Template

Each position may require an individual rating scale. However, you may reuse the structure of your rating scales for each interview. Here is a template of a general interview rating scale that you can use when creating your own system:

Candidate's name:

Position:

Department:

Team:

Interviewed by:

Rating scale: 1-5

1 - Not qualified

2 - Limited qualification

3 - Average qualification

4 - Above average qualification

5 - Exceptional qualification

Question 1: [Here you can include questions agreed upon by the team]

Rating:

Comments:

Questions 2: [Here you can include questions agreed upon by the team]

Rating:

Comments:

Questions 3: [Here you can include questions agreed upon by the team]

Rating:

Comments:

Overall rating:

Overall comments:

**Related: What Are Interview Guides?**

Example

Here is an example of a rating scale used to hire a retail employee:

Candidate's name: Janine Brown

Position: Retail associate

Department: Sales

Team: Retail team

Interviewed by: Sharon Campbell

Rating scale: 1-5

1 - Not qualified

2 - Limited qualification

3 - Average qualification

4 - Above average qualification

5 - Exceptional qualification

Question 1: Do you have experience working in retail:

Rating: 5

Comments: 3 years experience working on a retail team

Questions 2: Describe a time you worked with a difficult customer and how you handled the situation.

Rating: 4

Comments: Detailed an experience and showcased conflict management skills.

Questions 3: What are you looking for in your next position?

x

Rating: 5

Comments: Well thought out answer that aligns with the needs of the team.

Overall rating: 14

Overall comments: Personable and professional, Janine displayed excellent communication skills.

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