Talent Management
Applicant Tracking

How to Create an Interview Scorecard (and Why You Need One)

Published by in Applicant Tracking

Interviewing a job applicant without using a scorecard is like going running without tracking your distance.

Sure, you did all the work and you’ve got the fatigue and experience to show for it. But, you have no way of measuring your success. When you head out on another run tomorrow, you can’t go back and compare it to today’s run time. You’ve robbed yourself of the best possible reporting tool available!

In your work life, you don’t want your interviews to end up a jumbled mess that leaves you clicking through your ATS wondering which candidate said what clever remark.

An interview scorecard is your perfect reporting tool. Below, I lay out three reasons you should use a scorecard, some tips on how to create your own.

Why should you use a scorecard?

1. To prevent litigation

Even the most scrupulous hiring manager can open their company up to a lawsuit if they lack a well-documented and objective hiring process. It’s not enough to simply go on good faith and hope that even if you do make a hiring mistake, the involved applicant will just shrug it off.

Having an objective process for determining whether a candidate meets the criteria for a certain role and documenting this information greatly reduces the risk your company faces if a disgruntled applicant sues after not receiving a job offer.

An interview scorecard can show that not only was an applicant given equal and fair consideration, but the decision to not hire them was made objectively and not based on a federally protected trait such as race or age.

2. To increase objectivity in your hiring process

Hiring is, by nature, subjective. Considerations like cultural fit and leadership style are hard to quantitatively define. However, by quantifying as much of the process as you can, you remove the potential for unrelated variables to affect who you hire. An interview scorecard with objective metrics means:

  • Hiring decisions aren’t affected by which candidates you interviewed when you were having a bad day
  • Candidates won’t blend together, and you’ll be able to recall whose answer to question five was better
  • Better-looking but less-qualified applicants will lose out to the less put-together but more experienced ones

3. To hire for strengths, not lack of weaknesses

Too often, hiring managers bring on a candidate who has no glaring faults but is merely mediocre. In general, people are more inclined to act out of fear of small negatives rather than welcoming big positives.

An interview scorecard is designed to keep your focus on strengths when hiring, rather than a lack of weakness. By giving more weight to the skills necessary for a specific role and less weight to nice-to-have traits, you ensure that if an applicant rocks the important categories but scores poorly in the unimportant ones, they’re still considered.

Statistically speaking, hiring managers tend to like people who remind them of themselves. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; of course we like people we click with. But, this common bias can result in poor hiring choices. Having a solid set of metrics in the form of a scorecard will help you avoid falling victim to that trap.

Making your interview scorecard

An interview scorecard must include three things:

  1. The attributes being scored
  2. A weight assigned to each attribute
  3. The base educational/occupational requirements

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Attributes to include

This is the most important part of creating a scorecard and the most difficult to get right. Not only do you need to make sure you’re measuring a candidate on the right criteria, you also have to figure out how to do that measuring. What answer to a skills-specific question constitutes a five instead of a four?

The closer you can get to objective metrics here, the better. If you’re measuring a candidate on their cultural fit, asking generic questions like, “What’s your ideal work environment?” isn’t going to cut it.

Instead, take the time to define specific company cultural values and ask measurable questions around those. “What describes you better: wanting to consult with others and reach a consensus before making a big decision, acting on your own information to make a decision, or turning to a trusted adviser before making a decision?”

Each answer to these sample questions can have a different points value based on how your company operates.

 Your to-do:

  1. Make a list of up to ten questions you need concrete answers to.
  2. Take these essential questions and write down your ideal answers, allowing you to score applicant answers accordingly.
  3. Determine any additional questions you want to have on hand for certain situations. Which extra questions you use will differ from one applicant to another, so it’s helpful to keep a small stockpile of questions and a blank interview template handy!

Weighting attributes

So if weighting is important, how do you want to go about it? Obviously a programmer doesn’t need to be a stellar communicator, and a copywriter doesn’t need to understand C++, but how can you quantify that?

To weight an attribute, simply assign a number to it—higher if more important, lower if less—and multiply that weight by the raw score to get an applicant’s final weighted score.

A programmer who will be working outside the office may have a weight of five for JavaScript proficiency and a weight of only three for cultural fit, while a product manager who has to regularly interact with people across the company may have the opposite.

 Your to-do:

  1. Take every question you’ve developed and write them down in order of importance
  2. Once you’ve used scorecards a few times, you can make a general ordered list to use as a starting point for new interviews. Keep in mind that you still want to customize the question ranking for unique applicants

Base educational/occupational requirements

I recommend separating these requirements out from skill/attribute metrics because they’re much simpler to measure.

In this scorecard section, you can include things like “Has a relevant certification” or “Arrived to the interview on time.” These are yes/no binary choices and award an applicant either zero or “X” points, pending on their weight.

 Your to-do:

  1. Determine what qualifications or educational background your ideal hire has, and use those to create a custom list of binary check boxes.
  2. Leave yourself space to write in any non-essential but nice-to-have qualifications that an applicant brings to the table.

How do you score the rating system?

What other methods do you use to keep your hiring process objective? Are you a longtime scorecard user? What tips do you have for others who are just getting started with interview scorecards?

Tell me about it in the comments below, or tweet me @CapterraHalden.

If you liked this article, share it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook!

Looking for Applicant Tracking software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Applicant Tracking software solutions.

About the Author

Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen is a former Capterra analyst.



Comment by Tirena Dingeldein on

Thanks for letting us know! We’ll take a look.

Comment by Jasmine Harris on

The template link is broken… it isn’t clickable.

Pingback by UK Recruiter » Recruiter Clinic – So you think you can interview? (#blabUKRClinic) on

[…] How to Create an Interview Scorecard (and Why You Need One) Plus a Free Template […]

Comment by madhusudan on

nice template..quite useful for employers

Comment on this article:

Comment Guidelines:
All comments are moderated before publication and must meet our guidelines. Comments must be substantive, professional, and avoid self promotion. Moderators use discretion when approving comments.

For example, comments may not:
• Contain personal information like phone numbers or email addresses
• Be self-promotional or link to other websites
• Contain hateful or disparaging language
• Use fake names or spam content
Your privacy is important to us. Check out our Privacy Policy.