Best Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale Examples

Do you ever find yourself struggling to rate something? Maybe you want to rate a friend’s behavior but don’t know how to start. Or maybe you need to rate your behavior. A behaviorally anchored rating scale is a measurement instrument used to rate items based on their relative position along a continuum.

A BARS is a rating scale where respondents indicate their agreement or disagreement with each item using a point system. Unlike traditional rating scales, the points in a behaviorally anchored rating scale relate to the respondent’s choice, and the response options range from 1 to 5.

You can also use critical incident techniques to collect data about problematic behaviors in children. A critical incident technique involves asking parents and teachers to describe critical incidents that have occurred over the past week.

What are Examples of the Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale?

Before diving right into the examples, first, understand the seven points of the scale along with the specific behaviors that you can assess with BARS. With regards to the teamwork dimension, a seven-point scale is as follows:

  1. Strongly disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Neither agree nor disagree
  4. Agree
  5. Strongly agree
  6. No idea
  7. Not applicable

Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed the scale for this dimension. The scale measures employees’ perceptions of team development. It consists of five items that assess employees’ perceptions of the following dimensions:

  1. Teamwork – Employees’ perception of the degree to which they work well together
  2. Communication – Employees’ perception of whether they communicate in an effective way with others
  3. Trust – Employees’ perception of trust between them and other members of the team
  4. Respect – Employees’ perception of respect among team members (e.g.,” I feel my treatment is fair”)
  5. Cooperation – Employees’ perception of cooperation among team members

In addition, there are two more questions regarding the importance of teamwork and communication. These two items are not in the original questionnaire.

A behaviourally anchored rating scale is written in English, then translated into Chinese, and back-translated into English. The results showed that the translation had a good consistency.

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BARS Example

To develop an example of BARS, let’s look at the following scenario.


Your company wants to improve its customer service. You decide to ask customers who made purchases if they would recommend your company.


  • How do you think your company should respond when a customer asks, “Would you recommend us?”
  • What kind of answer would make you more likely to give a positive recommendation?
  • What kind of answer might make you less likely to give a positive reference?
  • Which one of these answers would you most likely choose?


There are these possible responses:

  • Strongly disagree
  • Disagree
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Agree
  • Strongly agree
  • I wouldn’t recommend your company because it doesn’t provide quality products/services.
  • Disagree
  • It’s unlikely that I will recommend your company because it does not offer great products.
  • Neither agree nor disagree.
  • I’m not sure what to say.
  • Agree
  • I’d recommend your company because it offers high-quality products

The above example shows how to apply the BARS to a situation. In this case, we asked participants to rate their level of agreement on a five-point BARS.

How Can You Use Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale Throughout Employee Lifecycle?

Behaviorally anchored rating scales take effect in many different situations such as critical incidents throughout the employee lifecycle. Here are some examples.

1. Performance Appraisal

Performance appraisal is a way of rating performance and providing feedback to them and is carried out through the employee appraisal process. The employee appraisal process helps managers understand how well employees perform their job duties and whether they need training.

2. Feedback

Feedback is a way of giving information about an individual’s performance. Employees may receive praise or criticism from their managers after rating performance. They may also get feedback from peers. This type of feedback is called 360-degree feedback.

3. Training

Training is a process by which an individual receives new skills or knowledge. Employees may get training through formal classes or informal mentoring.

4. Developmental Opportunities

Development opportunities are a chance for employees to learn new skills or advance within their current position. Managers often use developmental opportunities to help employees grow in a professional way.

5. Promotion

Promotion is a reward given to employees who do good work after employers develop performance dimensions. Employees’ promotions strongly rely on merit and individual performance, but sometimes promotions are given as rewards for outstanding performance during critical incidents and are determined through the employee appraisal process.

6. Termination

Termination is when an employee leaves their job. The most common reason for termination is poor performance. Other reasons include misconduct, such as stealing money or failure to meet expectations.

7. Job Search

A job search is when an employee looks for a new job. Sometimes employees look for a better opportunity at their current employer.

8. Career Planning

Career planning is when an employee decides what career path they want to take next. Some employees decide to change jobs while others stay put.

9. Retention

Retention is when an employee stays with their current employer. Retention is difficult if there is no clear plan for growth. However, retention is easier if the quantified ratings show a clear growth plan.

10. Evaluation

Evaluation is when a person gives feedback to another person based. Depending on an individual’s performance, evaluations can be positive or negative. In evaluations, evaluators should focus on the strengths of the other person.

Other Rating Scales For Employee Evaluation

There are several other types of rating scales that you could use to develop performance dimensions besides the behaviorally anchored rating scales. Behaviorally anchored rating scales are instrumental because they provide a way to measure different aspects of a person’s personality in a single test. Such quantified ratings also provide a way to compare two individuals’ personalities.

These are:

1. Likert Scales

Likert scales are similar to behaviorally anchored rating scales, but they don’t require specific anchor points. Instead, they ask questions like “How satisfied are you with your life?” or “How important is this task?”.

2. Nominal Scales

Nominal scales are similar to behaviorally anchored rating scales. They ask questions like “What is your favorite color?” or “Who would you vote for president?”.

3. Visual Analog Scales

Visual analog scales are similar to behaviorally anchored rating scales. They allow people to make ratings along with a continuum of quantitative data rather than just choosing one point. For example, a visual analog scale that includes numerical ratings might ask, “On a scale of 1-100, how happy are you right now?”

4. Multi-item Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales

Multi-item scales are similar to behaviorally anchored rating scales and graphic rating scales. They have many items-including numerical ratings, and each item has its anchor point. For example, multi-item scales might ask about things like “Your ability to communicate easily even in critical incidents ” or “The quality of your relationships.”

Pros and Cons of Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale

Behaviorally anchored rating scales are easy to use. You just need to choose three behaviors that represent the traits you want to evaluate. It makes it easy to administer the survey. It also allows you to get quantitative data about a person’s personality.

However, like most traditional rating scales, behaviorally anchored rating scales aren’t always accurate. For example, some people may not know which behaviors they should rate. Also, some people may think of themselves as different from how others see them. Here’s a list of behaviourally anchored rating scale advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages of Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale

It is quick and easy to use compared to some other traditional rating scale: You can administer a survey during critical incidents by asking people to rate their personality traits.

It’s easy to compare two people’s personalities: If you want to compare their performance dimensions, you can look at their scores.

They give you information about a person’s overall personality: When you use a behaviorally anchored rating scale, you’ll learn more about a person’s personality than if you used a trait questionnaire.

Disadvantages of Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale

Some people may not know what behaviors they should rate: Some people may not know what they should rate. For example, if someone doesn’t know what they like or dislike, they won’t know what behaviors to rate.

Some people may think of themselves in ways that differ from how others view them: Some people may think of themselves as more outgoing than they are.


Above we have provided a behaviorally anchored rating scale example for you to understand how this review scale works. Although it is an old method to review employees’ behavior, it still gives a clear idea so you can take mandatory steps to overcome the negativities.


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Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.