The hiring process is a time-consuming thing, and it often is not done very effectively. To make the hiring process more effective and more efficient, recruiting consultant Brad Smart has developed a procedure he calls Topgrading.
Topgrading is intended to bring a greater degree of rigor and structure to the recruiting and interviewing of job candidates. Its purpose, according to Smart, is to ensure that a company can weed out the weaker performers and hire only the best performing people.
Many candidates who actually don’t have the best of performance records often still get hired because they interview well and are able to highlight their strong points while effectively downplaying their weaknesses. Topgrading is designed to weed out these weaker candidates with a regimen of biographical interviews, detailed questionnaires and a thorough checking of references.
These components are supposed to clearly show who the best candidates are, and sort out the weaker candidates, who, reluctant to even enter such a gauntlet, would not likely apply in the first place. General Electric used the Topgrading process under Jack Welch, as did Honeywell under Larry Bossidy.
Companies clearly have a strong incentive to improve the hiring process. The cost of hiring the wrong person can be as high as 15 times the person’s actual salary. But interviewing often is not a strong skill of many hiring managers because it is not their primary work responsibility. As a result, their interviewing questions and techniques are not as effective as they could be.
In the Topgrading process, two interviewers question candidates using a structured four-hour chronological interview. During the interview, the interviewers are expected to rate each candidate on 50 different competencies. Candidates are expected to themselves arrange reference calls with former supervisors and colleagues. Candidates also complete a career history form, which is intended to graphically indicate where their strengths and weaknesses are.
And, finally, as part of the Topgrading process, there is an evaluation component, where the company measures the percent of high performers hired and promoted, as well as measuring the cost of bad hires. According to Smart, using the Topgrading process will result in 90 percent of all hires being top performers.
Has your insurance company or department ever used the Topgrading technique? If so, was it effective for? Did you, as Smart claims, truly result in nine out of 10 of your hires being a top performer?