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Begin With the End in Mind: Job Interview Scoring Sheets

Today we’re focusing on a core element of the hiring process: the Job Interview Scoring Sheet. Every organization uses these forms to score candidates during and after the interview is complete.

I believe in the Stephen Covey aphorism, “Begin with the end in mind.”  When it comes to job interviews, this is always a great approach -- you want to know as much as you can about how you will be scored, so you can go into the interview with a winning game plan.

First of all, there are many different kinds of job interviews (see this great article from The Muse that describes them).  In all of these cases, if you’ve been invited for an interview, you’ve met the first level of screening -- you have several of the important qualifications for the role.  

In the interview, the hiring manager is looking to learn more about how well you match up with the job description and what it could be like to work with you.

Your job is to know what the job qualifications are and to be able to convincingly explain how your experience and expertise matches up with the organization, with the team, and with the people the organization serves.  Thinking ahead to how you might be scored helps you prepare effectively.

How do you figure out what you’ll be scored on?

This requires a level of strategic thinking based on what you know about the position you’ve applied for, the team where the job is located, and the overall organization.

Step 1 is to go back to the position description and make a shortlist of the qualifications they are seeking.  For example, if the position is an engineering position and the job description includes that element, you’ll be asked questions about your technical skills.  So this would be one of several categories that you would be rated on in the interview.  

Step 2 is to group the shortlist of qualifications into categories.  

A little background:  In some instances, the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) -- the industry term for the online hiring portal where you upload your resume and cover letter -- is used by hiring officials or HR representatives to generate a sample scoring form based on the position’s qualifications.  It puts the qualifications into categories or buckets, as this step calls for -- such as Interpersonal Skills, Teamwork, etc.

Step 3: Combine the categories further into 5 or 6 core categories that the hiring organization likely will be considering.

Some organizations base their evaluation forms on a standard “kit” of evaluation forms that Human Resources prepare if they are not generated by the ATS.  

The hiring manager then customizes the form using the job description when scoring candidate interviews.  Here’s a good example of a standard “kit” from Vermont’s Department of Human Resources.  

Examples from Vermont and other organizations are useful in helping you get started with categorizing the qualifications into a handful of “buckets” that the interviewer or interview panel will be asking about and reviewing after the interview based on your responses.

Note that these kinds of online resources (like the kit from Vermont’s HR Department) generally are more readily available online from public sector organizations, although you can always search the organization you are interviewing with to see what you might find.  (Possible search terms could include “interviewing scoring sheet,” “candidate evaluation form,” etc.).  

This is also where websites like Glassdoor are valuable, as past interviewees may be able to provide insights into the subject areas or categories that are the focus of interviews with a specific organization.

Step 4 is to prepare your game plan.  Develop questions, examples, and effective responses that support the goals you have for the interview.  And practice, practice, practice!

Your Winning Strategy

Good, strategic preparation is important for a productive, positive interview experience.  Where are you strong when you look at the list of qualifications?  What’s your interview strategy?  What questions do you have for the hiring manager or panel members?  Where do you need to improve on your delivery or your examples?

When you start with how you want to be rated, and work backward to develop the responses, behaviors, and attitudes that deliver on your goals, you’ve set yourself up for interview success.

Can I help with moving you forward on the path to Green Career success?  Reach out to Beth Offenbacker, Ph.D., at or 703-623-4811 to discuss if our Green Career Coaching services are right for you.  All services are customized to your needs.

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