Matrix FAQ's


The matrix documents the process used by the search committee and Human Resources to review and evaluate job applicants based on objective criteria as published in the job advertisement. Think of it like a gradebook with the applicants as students. The advertisement is like a syllabus, telling applicants what the department is looking for, what to submit in order to be “graded,” and the minimum criteria upon which they will be “graded.” The criteria are like assignments, which are combined in an overall grade.  The matrix helps document each step of the search process, helps keep the search organized and details objective, defensible information should a search ever come into question. 

Please see additional frequently asked questions below!

It is highly recommended that the Search Committee Chair and/or Hiring Manager use the sample matrix provided by HR.  Using this document ensures that the matrix contains all the required elements to appropriately track the search from beginning to end.  Additionally, please see the matrix instructions page for further information.

To continue the gradebook analogy, it must include information necessary for documenting how a final grade was determined for every student or, in this case, each applicant:

  • Full names of all candidates
  • Title, department and position number for the position
  • Please use specific criteria (as published in the job advertisement) as labels rather than using generic terms like “Criteria 1”
  • For each candidate, identify whether they meet each of the minimum requirements; use ”Y” (yes) or “N” (no)
  • If desired/preferred qualifications are being considered, include numeric scores for this criteria on candidates who meet all minimum qualifications
  • A total score for each candidate who met the noted minimum qualifications and was evaluated on the desired/preferred qualifications
  • Please submit a single matrix with total scores or averaged scores (remain consistent throughout the search). Search Committee comments should be summarized. Individual scores and comments from each search committee member should not be included.

There are no specific rules about this, but keeping things simple is usually best. Departments are free to use whichever scale best suits their needs, but should include a legend on the matrix to clarify what the scores mean. Many search committees use a 10-point scale because it’s familiar and easy to understand. Other searches use a 3-point scale: 3 means good experience, 2 means some experience, and 1 means little or no experience. No matter what scale is used, it’s best to define the matrix and legend before beginning the review of applicants and consistently use this scale throughout the search. This sets expectations and can help the committee rate applicants consistently. In other words, set up the rubric before starting to grade.

Yes. The best way to do this is to assign a weighting factor (usually 1, 2 or 3 to which you will multiply their score). Just like in grading, making one “assignment”/criterion worth more is the simplest method. Remember that only those candidates who meet all the minimum qualifications should be scored. It doesn't matter how many preferred qualifications someone meets if they don’t meet the minimum qualifications stated in the job ad.

Committee comments should explain the scores. Be specific; rather than saying "incomplete packet," state what was missing, or "does not meet job needs," explain what specifically they are lacking. Usually a few sentences is sufficient. HR may ask a committee for additional comments in order to best document how decisions were made.

Avoid editorial or personal comments. These are not objective criteria and should not be considered when assessing candidates. Instead, focus on previous experience and qualifications or what the candidates said or did that made them acceptable or unacceptable.

Incomplete applications are generally not evaluated even if the candidate meets all the qualifications, however, each search should be taken on a case-by-case basis. Consult with the HR Employment & Staffing Partners concerning incomplete packets.  In any instance, all applicants must be considered the same.  If a Search Committee decides to screen on complete packets, all those candidates lacking complete packets must be screened out for not meeting the required materials.  If a Search Committee decides to NOT screen on complete packets, then all applications should be considered and reviewed to ensure minimum qualifications are met.

This can happen at any point during a search. This should be documented on the matrix, indicating the date and method of withdrawal (e.g. “withdrew by phone/email on January 5, 2022”). The email (or documentation of a phone call) should be maintained along with all other search records. Use similar comments for applicants who don’t respond to attempts for contact (e.g. did not respond to phone calls and emails between January 5 and January 10). Committees should make more than one attempt at contact and should provide a reasonable amount of time for candidates to respond, taking into consideration holidays, weekends, or other mitigating circumstances. Additionally, it is recommended that candidates be provided a clear "respond by" date as well.  Committees need not evaluate applicants after they withdraw or fail to respond.

The HR Employment & Staffing Partners will help facilitate all necessary reviews and approvals needed from within HR.  For all benefited searches, an Employment & Staffing Partner will review and approve the matrix at each step of the process.  For certain searches, the Manager of Inclusivity Initiatives will need to review and approve as well.  Again, the HR Staffing Partners will help facilitate any and all reviews and approvals needed at each step. To submit a matrix for review, attach the excel document to an email, include the requisition number in the subject line, and send to

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