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Technical interviewing and the technology to make it predictive, fair, and enjoyable.
Our mission is to make interviews fair, predictive, and enjoyable.
What developer candidates need to know about the Karat interview.
Structured interview rubrics make it possible for software engineering teams to hire the right candidates for the job. How? By putting candidates on a level playing field and assessing them for competencies that matter. No matter which interviewer they meet with, the candidate and team can be assured that they will be evaluated based on an interview rubric that clarifies a set of competencies that are relevant to the job. Plus, the entire team can be sure that they are discussing the candidate using the same rating scale and shared language to describe the candidate’s performance.
Interviews are too varied for a single structured interview rubric to rule them all. However, we do have some tricks up our sleeves to make it easier. We’ve applied this approach to conducting nearly 100,000 technical interviews for companies like Databricks, MongoDB, Hippo Insurance, and Flatiron Health.
In this guide, we’re going over a three-step process to create interview rubrics with examples to get you started.
Interview rubrics refer to a method or scorecard technical hiring teams use to ensure they’re asking similar questions during interviews. This ensures an inclusive and fair recruiting and hiring process in which every candidate gets an equal chance of success because they’re compared using the same criteria.
The criteria are separated by competency and are meant to assess a person’s skills and potential to gain new skills. Many technical hiring teams change these rating scales to clearly describe what “good” looks like for them. Interview rubrics can be adapted to analyze a candidate’s technical abilities or soft skills and spot whether the potential hire has the right past experience.
Interview rubrics are important for clarifying which competencies are relevant and guiding the interview so that the hiring manager asks the candidate to demonstrate them. For this reason, every interview rubric is unique to the job’s role and responsibilities — but should be applied to every interview for that role.
It’s best to start using interview rubrics early during the recruiting process for one role. This is because they help you offer the same interview experience to all candidates and ensure you’re filtering competencies for everyone. On top of this, they help reduce bias and assess a candidate based on objective scoring criteria.
While each interview rubric does depend on your company and roles, here’s a general process to get you started with building your next rubric for hiring software engineers:
“Degree of expertise” might be an important topic in a senior level behavioral interview, while a programming interview might assess “Technical Communication” and “Implementation quality.” Remember, if a competency is on the interview rubric it’s signal. If it’s not, then it’s noise.
At Karat, we use over 75 competencies in a variety of technical interviews. So, there isn’t really a limit on the number of competencies you can select, but be sure they are good ones that produce signal.
So what makes a good competency for a technical interview?
Technical assessments ought to be written with the relevant competencies in mind. A great interview gives candidates explicit requests to demonstrate relevant skills in a psychologically safe space. Remember, interviews should never be a mind-reading exercise.
Interview rubrics can save a ton of time and hassle for software engineers conducting interviews. All they have to do is check the box that describes the action the candidate took during the technical assessment. This is way easier, more consistent, and less biased than creating a write-up from scratch after every interview.
Start by translating competencies into a scale of observable behaviors. In the example below, the competency “implementation quality” is turned into a list of radio buttons, each with a description of the action taken by the software engineer.
If the candidate gets confused about their own code, then the interviewer can conclude that the code is confusing. On the other hand, if the code doesn’t confuse its author, but also there are no specific code-organizing techniques used, then the interviewer can conclude that the implementation quality is fine but not great.
This is great for coding interviews. What about interviews that explore a candidate’s expertise in another area? You can ask informational questions to explore how broadly or deeply a candidate knows a specific coding language or how they approach code review. This can also be applied to behavioral interviews for senior candidates.
Interview rubrics guide a team clearly to a hiring recommendation. Successful software engineering teams coach their interviewers on:
What about making a hiring recommendation? Different algorithms can be created to lead to a quantifiable result. For example:
Creating diverse software engineering teams doesn’t have to be challenging. The talent pipeline exists. Best practices to improve inclusivity in the technical recruiting process need to be applied consistently. An interview rubric is one of the best tools in your arsenal.
By describing what is meaningful to the technical assessment, interviewers are explicitly guided towards signal. If you notice interviewers coming to debriefs with negative opinions based on irrelevant, noisy indicators, you’ll want to name them. Some of these include:
For a complete look at how a structured scoring rubric can look like, discover some of our interview rubric samples you can use during technical interviews.
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