Why Interview Rubrics Are The Key To Modern Hiring

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David McKeagueSeptember 11, 2020

Today’s hiring processes make it far too easy to screen out the best candidates. Those who are most motivated and are the fastest learners are often overlooked. 


Resumes are still the main tool used to make shortlisting decisions. Data shows that when humans screen resumes, they spend an average of 7.4 seconds on each resume, which is hardly enough time to read and digest the information provided. Resume screening tools aren’t much better. Candidates who know how to game the system by doing things like keyword hacking might progress to the next round while those who don’t get left behind. 

Resumes have their place but they show only one aspect of the candidate and as mentioned, can be easily looked over. That’s why Talent Acquisition folks are increasingly looking for ways to provide candidates with consistent and fair screening processes that collect more information than the typical resume. 

Interview rubrics, also known as hiring rubrics, are one method being used to increase fairness and glean more about candidates at the beginning of the recruiting process.

What is an interview rubric? 

An interview rubric is a methodology where recruiters and hiring managers consistently ask the same series of questions. It’s a system that scores all candidate interview responses against the same set of job-based criteria. The criteria are designed to evaluate the desired skills and qualifications for a given role. 

How you can use an interview rubric to unearth the best candidates 

By introducing interview rubrics early in your recruiting cycle, you can use more than a resume to screen candidates and create a shortlist of those who will progress to the next round. The beauty of interview rubrics is that they can be designed to assess hard skills like knowing how to code, as well as soft skills like knowing how to communicate well. Soft skills can determine whether or not a candidate becomes a great hire, so it makes sense to assess them as early in the recruiting process as possible. Download our guide to learn more about hiring for soft skills

Interview rubrics can also help reduce bias by ensuring consistent questioning and analysis of candidates. Interview bias is a big issue in recruiting and so it’s important to try and eliminate or reduce its effect as much as possible. Consistent questioning and scoring is one way to minimise bias. 

Implementing interview rubrics 

Interview rubrics can be implemented in two different ways, manually or by using technology. 

Enterprises like Amazon and Etsy implement a ‘manual’ interview rubric system to ensure consistency in hiring. 

Manual interview rubrics 

A manual rubric is predefined criteria outlined on paper. Interviewers use this rubric during interviews to ensure the same set of questions are asked and answers are scored against the same criteria. It’s very similar to a marking rubric you may find in use at schools or universities. 

To build a manual system, the first step is to create and document your rubric. 

Meet with relevant stakeholders and decide on the list of questions to be included in the interview. These questions should be based on the behavioural attributes you would like to screen for, such as communication. 

If you’re stuck on where to start, ask yourself, “what skills are needed to get this job done?” and write down everything that comes to mind. You can then narrow down the list to what matters most for the role and your organisation. For example, if the role you are hiring for is in a call centre, candidates might need to be able to use technology, deal with customers, work shift hours, maintain high levels of customer service and follow instructions well. 

Unpacking these criteria might reveal that what you are actually looking for are behavioural traits like motivation, adaptivity, great communication and the ability to remain calm under pressure.

You would then build a rubric around these attributes. 

Digital interview rubrics 

Creating and implementing manual interview rubrics can be time-consuming. After all, once interviews are completed you still need to analyse and compare the data you receive! The good news is there are many tools that allow you to implement interview rubrics digitally. These tools will collect data and then present you with easy-to-digest analysis. 

You can use chatbots to ask candidates interview questions or utilise automated video interviewing tools to do the same thing. Another option is to use an AI phone interviewing system like Curious Thing. Or you could use all three tools! Using a combination of technologies in the recruitment process is becoming more common in this age of remote hiring. For example,  Black Sheep Capital used both chatbots and Curious Thing’s AI interviewer to sort through over a thousand candidates to hire the right data analyst. 

When looking for a digital solution, try to find a tool that both collects and analyses data. That way recruiters can save time and have more data at their disposal to make decisions. For example, Curious Thing’s AI phone interviewer will conduct phone interviews with candidates and not only record the conversation but also analyse it to score candidates against specific behavioural attributes, such as business acumen and communication skills. This gives all candidates a chance to shine and reduces bias because all the same questions are asked and are objectively marked against the same criteria. 

Overall, interview rubrics are a great way to both make the recruitment process fairer and also ensure you’re uncovering the best talent in your candidate pool.