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Keeping Score: Using a Hiring Rubric

Keeping Score: Using a Hiring Rubric

A professional hired for a leadership role will interact with people of different levels and functions within an organization; therefore, organizations often form search committees and/or hiring teams to mirror this variety during the hiring process and to prevent the potential bias of a single hiring manager. When evaluating candidates collectively, it is imperative that all parties understand the hiring criteria, which should be documented in writing and referred to often. An effective search committee or hiring team will evaluate candidates on objective measures rather than subjective and will allow every member the opportunity to contribute feedback.

A hiring rubric is a scoring tool that defines the expectations by which each candidate will be evaluated. By using a hiring rubric, also known as a hiring matrix or hiring scorecard, each person—whether dominant or reserved in group discussions—can participate equally in assessing candidates. A rubric is important because it helps to determine who will be interviewed, invited to interview again, and ultimately presented with an offer of employment. For this reason, search committees or hiring teams may implement an applicant screening rubric as well as an interview rubric.

The follow recommendations outline how to implement a hiring rubric to capture feedback about candidates throughout the hiring process.

When screening applicant resumes, the search committee or hiring team usually determines the minimum qualifications for a candidate’s education and experience. As these questions warrant “yes or no” answers, it is best to assign a numerical value to each answer. 

Each member then completes a rubric, which is typically an Excel spreadsheet, and submits it to a neutral third party (such as an administrative professional at your organization or an executive search firm) to compile candidate scores and provide a summary of responses. Candidates with the highest average scores are invited to interview. 


To assess candidate responses during an interview, it is common to use a numerical scale like this on an interview rubric:
(1) Unsatisfactory (2) Below Average (3) Average (4) Above Average (5) Exceptional

Interview questions should pertain to traits or factors that can be evaluated, such as: cultural fit, career motivation, social skills, teamwork, technical skills, leadership capabilities, critical thinking/problem solving, and, self-awareness. 

While easy to derive an average score after ranking a candidate on each factor, what if the search committee or hiring team wants to prioritize certain factors? You can weight them by assigning a percentage to each factor providing that the total is 100 percent. In the example below, note how the weighted average score for each candidate compares to the original average score.

Much like the applicant screening process, each member of the committee or team completes a rubric following the interviews and submits it to a third party to compile the scores for each candidate and provide an average of responses. Candidates with the highest scores are interviewed another time or presented with an offer of employment.

When using hiring rubrics, feedback is recorded and stored in a central location and—most importantly—candidates are assessed efficiently, consistently, and objectively! To request formattable files of the examples presented, please contact Nicole Zeller.