BARS has been around for ages now, I have realised of its true potential over the past year and I want to share how impactful it can be.

Some of its impacts are on

1) Selecting the right candidate using BARS as an Assessment criteria in a Behaviour Event Based Interview

2) In Rating Competencies during performance Appraisals

3) In highlighting behaviours that need to develop/improve for a person to move to the next level

4) To give a standardized/uniform way of measureing and nalysing competencies in an organisation.

The following is an excerpt that I have taken from an article:

I am also attaching a example of a BARS chart.


The specific purpose of the Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scale is to

use behavioural procedures to design an instrument that can identify

and measure the critical components that constitute effective

performance in an occupation. The instrument has been used to identify

performance competencies in such occupations as Nurses (Smith and

Kendall, 1963), store managers (Campbell, et. al., 1973), college

professors (Harrai and Zedeck, 1973) and for identifying the

professional and career development activities needed by teachers

(Erffmeyer and Martray, 1988). The instrument allows for researchers

to "capture performance in multidimensional, behaviour-specific terms"

(Anshel and Webb, 1989).

A scale is constructed by developing a series of critical anchors or

competencies that are perceived to represent effective performance in

an occupation. Each competency area is then defined as a series of

precise and specific indicators or dimensions. These indicators are

written as specific behaviours which can be observed, rather than

inferred. Each set of indicators is designed to represent the specific

skills associated with effective performance in the competency area.

As Smith and Kendall (1963) proclaim, the instrument is "rooted in and

referable to actual behaviours".

To ensure content validity a representative sample of the targeted

population or occupation is used to construct each rating scale

(Erffmeyer and Martray, 1988). Generally this procedure involves

selecting individuals because of their expertise in the area of

investigation. Individuals are split into groups and go through

identical processes to develop the scale. Behavioural anchors or

competencies are identified as well as the dimensions or indicators in

each competency area. Smith and Kendall (1963) maintain that these

procedures allow for an instrument to be developed in the language of


occupation that is being investigated, therefore increasing its face

validity. Once constructed, a rating scale is then administered to a

wider sample of the targeted occupational population. Respondents are

asked to indicate on a five point Likert scale their perception as to

how essential each competency area is to effective performance. Each

competency can be rated or each individual indicator (Campbell, 1973).

Erffmeyer and Martray (1988) included another dimension to this step by

asking respondents to also indicate, on a five point scale, the level

of difficulty they experienced in developing each skill area.

After a scale has been administered it is then evaluated as to the

level of how essential the competencies and the indicators are

perceived to be. The criterion for inclusion on the final rating scale

of an indicator or competency is a mean essential ranking of greater

than or equal to 3.5 and a standard deviation of less than 1.2 (Smith

and Kendall, 1963).


Behaviourally anchored rating scales (BARS) provides a procedure to

overcome some of the inherent weaknesses typically associated with

traditional rating scales.

Gay (1981, 128) generally suggests that rating scales have problems

with "halo effect" and "generosity error". "Halo effect" refers to the

situation where ratings are influenced by a raters' positive feeling

towards the person they are rating. "Generosity error" refers to the

situation in which a rater gives higher ratings than they otherwise

might. This generally occurs when a rater does not have enough

information to make an objective rating and as a result the ratee

benefits from any doubt that may exist, with a high rating (Gay, 1981).

Another problem associated with rating scales is when "trait type"

scales are used. Often the dimensions used in trait type scales are

ambiguous. This results in threats to the internal validity of the


Smith and Kendall (1963) and Campbell (1973) argue that these problems

can be overcome through the use of Behaviourally Anchored Rating

Scales. The strength of these scales is in the level of precision and

specificity that occurs in the procedure for design and construction.

Firstly, identified items for rating are at all times defined in

specific behavioural terms. In addition, the scales measure

performance, rather than behavioural or effectiveness. Campbell et.

al. (1973) specify that performance is behaviour that occurs in a

specific context.

Effectiveness is also not measured with the scale. The reason being

that effectiveness is influenced by too many variables out of the

control of an individual. As Campbell et. al. (1973, 15) maintain:

The crucial distinction between performance and effectiveness is that

the latter does not refer to behaviour directly but rather it is a

function of additional factors not under the control of the individual.


In utilising Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scales the following process

needs to be undertaken.

1.Generation of expert panels. Two panels of "experts" who due to

their knowledge and experience in the area of study, are able to design

an instrument to assess quality performance.

2.Designing a questionnaire based on a 5 point Likert scale of

"competencies" required to measure performance.

3.Validating the instrument by sending the questionnaire to a wide


4.Analysis of the results.

  • These types of rating scales are particularly effective for assessing competencies, skills and abilities.
  • BARS rating scales are highly valid and job-related because important job requirements are covered.
  • Objective benchmarks are provided against which observations can be rated, therefore, there is less rating error than when using other types of scales (e.g. numeric).
  • BARS scales take some time and effort to create and usually cannot be used for job types other than those for which they were developed.
Developing a BARS Scale
  • Using subject matter experts, identify examples of job performance behaviours reflecting all different levels of effectiveness ranging from ineffective to superior for all the different parts of the job. These are key indicators only. It is not required to be an exhaustive list of every possible criterion. You may have already identified these behaviours when you conducted your job analysis to establish the qualifications and competencies. If so, use them here.
  • Examples are then clustered by content and categories of job performance and ranked according to importance.
  • Major, essential, or core criteria are distinguished from those that are minor or secondary within the group.
  • Tip: Focus on the extreme ends of each range (i.e. the 5 and the 0-1 points) and describe them fully first OR focus on describing the "3 or 4 Point" passing answer first, then add or subtract to define other answers.
  • Decide how many points will be awarded and how irrelevant or incorrect responses will be scored. A wrong answer should result in a failing grade.
  • Assign marks that reflect the relative importance of the question and the competency being assessed.
  • The scale may be multiplied by a factor to increase the overall weighting. For example, a 5-point scale is multiplied by a factor of 4 to increase the weight of the assessment to 20 points in the overall competition.
With Regards,


From India, Mumbai

Attached Files (Download Requires Membership)
File Type: xls BARS- Sr- Executive- Operations.xls (33.0 KB, 3771 views)

Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Behavioural Trainer & Manager
+2 Others


10ks in tons for posting this very informative information. Hoping that all Citehr members will benefited from this posting. Bye
From India, Nagpur
hi kennith,
gr8 piece of work. but i want you to elucidate what are the acronyms of ec,rigm etc in the excel sheet given n what is the precedure to use this form can pls post it to

From India, Hyderabad
Dear Mr. Kenneth, what is meant by abbreviation EC RI GE SD RM pls elaborate... regards Jawahar
From India, Mumbai

I am not sure about the acronyms being used in the appended excel file but generally they are in this order: Poor Needs Improvement Meet Expectations Exceed Expectations Outstanding
From India, Delhi
Dinesh Divekar

Dear friends,

All of a sudden, this thread has enlivened after eight years!

BARS is old hat. It measures behaviour. Interpretation of behaviour is always subject to interpretation or even manipulation. Likes and dislikes influence the rating. That is why the world has moved toward a quantitative rating. Rather than rating the behaviour, it is better to rate the outcome of the behaviour that is in tangible form. Businesses run on numbers. Investors invest based on the anticipated returns. They do not look at the behaviour of the CEO and draw satisfaction on the returns that they get.

Let me give you an example of what I have given in my earlier replies also. Suppose a Purchase Manager is due to handle project purchases. For this, he does thorough market research, vendor research. This market information gives him an edge in negotiations and he negotiates very effectively to contrives win-win outcome. Since he works at his work desk and conducts in the board rooms, his boss might not come to know the spadework of purchase manager. Therefore, there is a possibility of overlooking of competencies of the Purchase Manager by his boss who could be CFO or CEO. Against this backdrop, who will be responsible for the wrong rating of the Purchase Manager?

Above all, while rating behaviour, talking parrots are given prominence over flying parrots. There are smart chaps in this world, who know very well, how to manipulate the behaviour of others. Let us not ignore this fact!

The article does not take into account the demerits of BARS completely. Article adumbrates in just a line and says how time-consuming BARS is. I checked the internet and found the following pros and cons of BARS:

Behind BARS: Evaluating Employees with Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales - dummies


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

Competency EC RI GE SD RM may i please know the abbreviations for the above acronyms used in BARS rating scale? ASAP!
From India, Bengaluru

Hi Madhuri, No clue about the abbreviations but you can substitute the following in lieu of that: Poor - Needs Improvement - Meet Expectations - Exceed Expectations - Outstanding
From India, Delhi

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