Microsoft Excel: Put this chart on your radar

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Q: Our company is interviewing, evaluating, and hiring new employees, using a detailed checklist and interviewer rating system. Now that we have all of this data, is there a visual method for comparing how well-rounded one candidate is compared to another candidate?

A: Excel can produce a filled radar chart, which can be useful for comparing a multitude of attributes across multiple items, and the visual results may be the solution you seek. To illustrate this type of chart, I prepared sample data consisting of 12 measurements for three prospective employees (Ben, Sally, and Fred), and I arbitrarily assigned scores to each employee, as pictured below. (I used a CONCATENATE formula to include the score totals in the column heading; for example, cell C1 contains the formula ="Ben ("&C14&")". This trick enables each employee's score to be reflected in the resulting charts pictured below.)

To create the first radar chart, I selected the list of measurement points in column B and the scores for Ben in column C (cell range B1 through C13 in this example), then from the Insert tab, I selected the Filled Radar chart option, as pictured below.

With the chart still selected, from the Chart Tools menu, I then applied the Style 5 chart formatting from the Chart Styles box to produce a dark gray background with light blue area formatting, and I formatted the gridlines as solid lines. I repeated the process for Sally and Fred to produce side-by-side radar charts for all three candidates, which may help to visually tell the story of each candidate's strengths and weakness.

Presumably, a more circular area implies a better-rounded candidate, but only if all measurement attributes are weighted equally. In the end, remember that computers aren't intelligent (they only think they are), and because many additional factors should be considered, your final selections should be based on more than the shape of a simple computer chart. You can download this radar chart example at carltoncollins.com/radar.xlsx.

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About the author

J. Carlton Collins (carlton@asaresearch.com) is a technology consultant, a CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor. Note: Instructions for Microsoft Office in “Technology Q&A” refer to the 2013, 2010, and 2007 versions, unless otherwise specified.

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