What is topgrading interviewing? Our favorite tips

Topgrading interviewing is when candidates face multiple interviewers in more than one interview, to find the best people who fill critical core competencies such as Intelligence, vision, leadership, drive, resourcefulness, customer focus, hiring, team-building, track record/experience, integrity, and communication. Its a way to identify candidates based on those more intangible soft skills – or core skills. They are more holistic than traditional, structured interviews.

23 Topgrading Interview Questions You Must Know

1. Measure and improve the current hiring process

You can use the first step to help your clients from the start of the hiring process. Take a look at your client’s current methods for hiring. Find out how many high-performers are employed and how many bad hires they make.

Prepare clients for the interview stage to improve their current hiring process. For example, you might notice that the job description your client gives you is vague and poorly written. Coach your client on effective job descriptions and offer resources to help them. You could even re-write the description for your client.

Before you start your search, have a clear idea of the candidate needed for the position. Talk to your client about what the ideal candidate looks like on paper. It might take some digging to get a full list of details. But, you need the big picture of the best candidate before contacting candidates.

Choose 15-20 criteria points to compare candidates. You will score each candidate based on how their answers match up to the criteria. The scores will show each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

Start your search with a job advertisement that lists the skills, experience, and personality traits needed for the position. The description must be detailed.

As a recruiter, you have access to a recruiting database of potential candidates. Reach out to those in your network that are proven to be high-performers. Use job board sites and social media to advertise the position.

ATS recruiting software makes it easy to sort and track candidates. You can import resumes and view them in a uniform format, making it simple to compare and find the best candidates.

4. Screen candidates with work history forms

A work history form is a comprehensive list of topgrading questions that ask about a candidate’s past. The form asks for compensation histories, boss ratings, reasons for leaving jobs, likes and dislikes in jobs, self-appraisal, and more.

By using a work history form, you can weed out weak candidates that bend the truth on resumes. Since the form asks each candidate the same questions, you spend less time reading and deciphering resumes.

Once you have a pool of promising candidates from the work history forms, set up telephone interviews. A recruiter phone interview saves time that would be wasted on unsuccessful in-person interviews.

While on the phone, explain the job in more detail. If the candidate is interested, take about 45 minutes to ask about their most recent jobs. You might ask about their passions, successes, failures, key decisions made, and goals. From this point, narrow down the candidates you want to interview face-to-face.

Competency interviews cover more general topics about proficiency and behavior, giving you quick insight on candidates. The interviews are usually about an hour long. Give candidates the chance to ask about the open position and work environment.

The topgrading interview is a thorough review of the candidate’s past jobs and experiences. This intensive interview creates a roadmap to where the candidate is today. Ask questions about past events, motivations, successes, and failures that led to their current skills, knowledge, and values.

The topgrading interview is chronological. It starts with high school and ends with goals for the future. And, the interviewer usually asks a lot of questions about every job the candidate has held.

The process appears drawn out, but it’s not as burdensome as it sounds. Using the work history form, follow a topgrading interview guide, ask questions, and take notes.

topgrading interview questions

The company’s topgrading process typically consists of four phases. First, select the person who will conduct the topgrading process; second, define the traits required for success; third, survey subordinates and peers; and finally, validate top grading based on results. Sometimes a recruiter will need several attempts at validating top grades before they can be considered as having successfully validated them (this differs per company).

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Conflicts are often used to find out if an individual does not have a problem with authority. Conflicts with a person who had more authority than the individual seeking should be avoided. Similarly, conflicts with people who do not have as much power as the top grader should also be avoided.

In addition to validating the top performer as defined beforehand, top grading goes into detail about what made him or her a top performer: key attitude traits that enabled their success – attributes such as drive, ambition, discipline, work ethic, integrity – and key skill sets – including business development skills such as prospecting and sales process competencies such as presentation skills or the ability to call top executives.

A top performer will usually go through several sequential steps to complete the interview process. Once an organization agrees to engage in the topgrading interview process, prospective topgraded top-graders are often given a questionnaire with questions designed to assess their top-grading skills and work ethic. Top Graded top-performers will be ranked on a scale.

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