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Why is a matrix required?

The matrix documents the process used by the search committee to review and evaluate job applicants based on objective criteria as published in the job ad. Think of it like a gradebook with the applicants as students. The ad 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.

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Are departments required to use the sample matrix provided by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

No, the sample matrix is merely provided as a resource.  Departments are welcome to modify the sample matrix or create their own in Excel as long as the basic elements are present. The matrix must also be readable; please don’t use very small fonts. Incomplete matrices, emails, Word documents will not be accepted by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.


Send one working Matrix to the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion's Senior Project Coordinator

The search chair must provide one matrix to the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion's Senior Project Coordinator throughout the course of the search:

  • The first time the matrix is submitted, it must show all applicants for the position and indicate who will be interviewed. While the search committee will be screening candidates, it is still imperative that we receive this information for our records.

  • The final time the matrix is submitted for approval, it will list all who received interviews and indicate who is acceptable to receive an offer. These matrices, once reviewed, will be attached to the job opening in HCM, which serves as an electronic search file. 


What must be included on the matrix?

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, applicant:

  • Full names of all candidates
  • Title, department and position number for the position
  • Please use specific criteria (as published in the job ad) 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 preferred criteria are being considered, include numeric scores for candidates who meet all minimums
  • A total score for each candidate who submitted a complete application and met the preferred qualifications
  • Please submit a single matrix with total scores. Search Committee comments should be summarized. Individual scores and comments from each search committee member should not be included.


What scale should be used for the numeric scores?

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 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. This sets expectations and can help the committee rate applicants consistently.  In other words, set up the rubric before starting to grade. 


Can criteria for preferred qualifications be weighted?

Yes. The best way to do this is to assign more points for higher priority criteria. Multiplying by a weighted factor or similar approaches can be confusing. Just like in grading, making one “assignment”/criterion worth more points 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. 


What should the comments include?

Committee comments should explain the scores. Be specific; rather than saying "incomplete packet," state what was missing. Usually a few sentences is sufficient. EEO may ask a committee for comments in other circumstances in order to best document how decisions were made.


What should be avoided in the comments?

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. 


What if an applicant doesn’t submit all materials required in the job ad?

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 situation. Consult with you HR partner concerning incomplete packets.


What if an applicant withdraws from the search or doesn’t respond to attempts to reach him/her?

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 email on January 5, 2017”). 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.  Committees need not evaluate applicants after they withdraw or fail to respond.

(PDF version of all FAQ's)

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