Behavioral interview scoring matrix

What is the behavioral interview scoring matrix, and how can you use it to rate candidates during interviews?

Hiring the right person for the job is one of the most important business decisions you’ll make. Each new hire not only represents the company brand and image, but you’ll also rely on their capabilities to perform the role well.

What are the three criteria for a hiring decision?

When looking for a new hire, there should be three areas of criteria you should consider.

1.   Capabilities

First and foremost, is the candidate able to carry out the role? Do they have the right skills and qualifications?

You may even want someone with experience, how much hands-on experience do they have in this field?

2.   Value

What value can the candidate bring to the role and your organisation in general?

And how much are you willing to pay for this value?

Deciding their salary against their value is important here. You’ll pay more for top candidates, but you’ll get the results with them too.

You can consider their expertise and even their networking reach. Are they able to take your company in a new direction with their knowledge and experience? Can they make new connections that will provide significant value to the business?

3.   Cultural Fit

Last but certainly not least, you need to ensure your chosen candidate fits within your company culture.

With the exposure of social media and an interconnected world, your employees are an extension of your company brand. What they say and do, in and out of work, influences the image of your organisation.

While it’s great to have a diversified team for new ideas and ways of thinking, it is a fine line to balance. Employees who are disruptive can do a lot of harm to your company brand, affecting both customer relationships and internal company morale.

It’s important to create a team who can synergise and collaborate well together. Someone outside of the company mould could potentially cause friction, which could lead to it affecting other employees.

Prior to interviewing and especially hiring decisions, you should definitely take a look at candidates' social media profiles and see how they conduct themselves publicly. It can be a make or break for your company brand.

How do you evaluate a candidate in an interview?

So how do you evaluate your candidates in an interview?

In this section, we will look at how to assess candidates capabilities, values and cultural fit by following a behavioral interview scoring matrix.

What is a behavioral interview scoring matrix?

A behavioral interview scoring matrix, otherwise known as a hiring matrix, interview scorecard or interview rubric is what recruiters use when scoring candidates in interviews to help them make the most efficient hiring decision.

The hiring matrix is used to rank and score all candidates for a role based on their skills, qualifications, experience and personality.

By using a hiring matrix to conduct all interviews, recruiters have a well noted documentation for each interview which can easily be reviewed again and compared to other candidates to help make the hiring decision easier.

Conducting a behavioral interview scoring matrix

For the ease of reading, we’ll refer to the behavioral interview scoring matrix by simply saying interview rubric.

An interview rubric allows recruiters to consistently ask all candidates the same series of questions. In doing so, it provides them with a way to increase fairness in screening candidates. This is essential if multiple recruits are hiring for positions, as answer scores can be evaluated and compared more fairly.

Interview rubrics can be introduced earlier into the recruitment process too. It’s often used as an initial screening tool for shortlisting successful candidates through to the next stage of the recruitment process, instead of looking at resumes only.

This is a great way to reduce hiring bias that’s often the case when reviewing resumes, while shortlisting candidates based on merit and qualification.

Thankfully, interview rubrics can easily be used with the help of technology.

You could create your own manual interview rubric. It would be free of course, but it would be extremely time consuming! Not to mention without technology, you’d have to analyse and compare all the data from each candidate manually.

Some companies have great success with using chatbots to ask interview questions to candidates, video interviewing, and even Artificial Intelligence phone interviewing.

Benefits of using an interview rubric

Interview rubrics are an excellent tool to introduce into your recruitment process as they come with multiple benefits. These include:

  • Fairness- Maintain fairness by asking the same set of interview questions throughout
  • Consistency- Reduce bias by focusing on how candidates answer each question and following the questions in order.
  • Effectiveness- Easily review and compare candidates answers with a score
  • Productiveness- Structured interviews can enable multiple recruiters to interview for one role and easily compare and analyse candidate answers together.
  • Structure- Using a scoring system gives you a structure to follow, which often leads to more successful hires.

How are interview rubrics scored?

Establishing the basics

When using a behavioral interview scoring matrix you simply assign scores from low to high on how well a candide answered your question.

Your questions should be made up of rows of job-related skills, education and qualifications experience and so forth.

For example, you could use a scoring grade of 1 to 5 and assess each answer with these scores. Below is an example of how you can assess each candidate's response with a corresponding score.

Assigning a score of 1:


The candidate failed to answer the question. Their response was either completely irrelevant or they failed to provide any answer at all. No personal examples given or no relevant examples given.

Assigning a score of 2:

Below Average.

The candidate covered some points, but gave many irrelevant points. No examples given.

Assigning a score of 3:


The candidate covered some points. They gave relevant information and gave some examples.

Assigning a score of 4:

Above average.

The candidate gave a good answer. They delivered relevant information covering all or most points. They used good points to accompany their responses.

Assigning a score of 5:


The candidate gave a perfect answer. All the points were addressed and relevant to the question asked. Great examples used to demonstrate.

Adding up scores on the behavioral interview scoring matrix

When evaluating a pool of candidates you want to find out who scored the highest points to help make the hiring decision for the role.

Using weighted scoring?

What happens in a scenario when candidates reach similar scores in total? This is where weighted questions come in.

Alongside each question, recruiters also should mark down how much ‘weight’ a question and answer has when adding up scores.

A simple way to do this is to just score a ‘weight’ of 1 or 2 next to each answer depending on the importance of the question to the position.

This can be added to their overall scores to see who outperforms who.

For example, when hiring for a coding position, experience in previous coding roles will certainly be significantly more important than how well they perform in teamwork.

Therefore, candidates with similar scores can easily be whittled down to the best candidate, depending on which questions suited to the role they suit better.

How to determine what questions to ask for a behavioral interview scoring matrix?

The best place to start when creating your interview rubric is to decide, “What skills are needed for this role?

When you begin to write down all your answers to this question you may find that you discover more soft skills are needed for the role as well as hard skills. For example, for a sales call role you may initially need someone with the ability to use technology, take calls, deal with customers, work shifts, and follow instructions. However, you may then realise that a top candidate for this role should excel in behavioural traits such as remaining calm under pressure, great communication, highly motivated and adaptive to situations.

Once you've determined the most important skills for your role you should then build your interview rubric around these attributes.

How to determine your interview rubric answers?

Your interview rubric can be extremely simple, with a simple ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ checkbox for the candidate answer.

Or interview rubrics can be very detailed with briefs on why an interview question is being asked and different levels of answer descriptions for each question.

But while more detailed interview rubrics allow a fairer process, the more difficult it is to design and maintain it.

How to achieve fairness with interview rubrics

When you use simplistic answer boxes such as a score of 1-5 you can easily assess candidates levels of skill or competency based on their response. However, it’s natural for different recruiters to have differing opinions on what score to determine each candidate. This is to be expected with human judgement.

That’s why with each question it’s important for the interview rubric to give prompts to the interviewer as to which talking points candidates should cover to score a perfect score from each answer.

How to make notes on your scoresheet during an interview

Video interviewing with interview rubrics

Trying to write effective notes while conducting a face-to-face interview takes skill.

You need to be able to juggle being interpersonal while jotting down all the relevant information the candidate is saying in their example answer. If you don’t know shorthand or can’t write clearly and quickly this can affect you being able to maintain appropriate eye contact and keep the flow of the interview moving at a steady pace.

But if you and your team use interview rubrics with every interview, it makes it far easier to use video interviewing.

Through using a one-way video interview in your recruitment process, you can effectively make the appropriate notes while listening to the recorded interview.

Another great thing with video interviewing, if you miss anything you can easily go back or even press pause to catch up with your notes.

Other tips when using a behavioral interview scoring matrix

A really great way to get the most out of your candidates sometimes is to tell them prior to the interview what you want to assess and how you’ll be scoring their answers.

This is a great way for you candidates to prepare properly for their answers, separating the truly exceptional candidates from mediocre.

The same could be said for candidates who are walking into the unknown, and have no indication prior to their interview of the types of questions coming their way. But when you tell all candidates upfront, they all have an equal opportunity to really shine if they can.

This is reflective of most jobs. In most roles, people are given time to prepare. So unless you need to judge a candidate on their quick-thinking skills, you may want to consider giving your candidates an idea of the types of questions coming their way.

Getting started with your behavioral interview scoring matrix

It’s important to remember that when it comes to using a tool to help you evaluate your candidates, it's about the end goal and not the process.

Don’t get too bogged down filling out as many notes as you can. Get the gist of what impressed you most with the candidate's answer, give them an appropriate score and move on.

This makes it easier when it comes to reviewing your notes, especially when comparing with other candidates' interview answers.

For more information on the different types of behavioral questions to ask candidates, read a past post of ours here.

See you next time!

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