Topgrading, Inc. is an internationally renowned consultancy to many Global 1000 companies.

The Beginning: The company was founded by Dr. Brad Smart, who completed his Ph.D. in organizational psychology at Purdue University, entered consulting, and after two years launched Topgrading, Inc. (formerly Smart & Associates, Inc.), based in the Chicago area, with partners throughout the US and in Asia, South America, and Europe.

Early Topgrading “Keys”: Before launching Topgrading, Inc. Brad was appalled at the poor hiring results of almost all companies. Brad attributes typically poor hiring results to the reliance on ineffective methods still commonplace today — the use of personality tests and behavioral interviews, both of which are easily faked. They do not address the biggest reason for poor hires: dishonesty. In almost all cultures it is socially acceptable for people to lie on their resume and in interviews. And because reference checks are too often worthless, there is no way to verify the truth of what candidates say in their resume and interviews.

Brad solved this problem. In his first year of consulting Brad created two of Topgrading’s key principles. One is the Threat of Reference Check (TORC) Technique in which candidates are told from the start that THEY will have to arrange reference calls with former managers and others. This motivates low performers and those who fake their resume and lie in interviews to drop out. Good! This saves Human Resources about 25% of hiring time. With basically honest, high performing candidates remaining in the candidate pool, the famous Topgrading Interview becomes extremely revealing. It’s a chronological Interview in which candidates reveal all their strengths and weaker points as they describe, their successes, failures, key decisions, and key relationships for every job throughout their career. Of course, finalists DO arrange reference calls, which the hiring manager or HR makes in order to get highly credible verification of what candidates have said.

In short: poor hiring results come from candidate dishonesty, shallow interviews, and no verification: Topgrading delivers honesty, the most revealing interviews, and solid verification.

Topgrading Assessment/Coaching: For decades CEOs have recommended to other CEOs to use a Topgrading Professional to interview finalists for key jobs. For many years Topgrading was not implemented throughout companies because the common (wrong!) assumption was that a professional should have a Ph.D. in Psychology and have done hundreds of interviews.

Topgrading, Inc. Teaches Managers to Conduct Topgrading Interviews: 

In the 1980s and 1990s General Electric CEO Jack Welch helped us change our paradigm  to add rolling out Topgrading throughout companies, and training all managers. Thousands of GE managers were trained to use Topgrading to hire and promote people. GE’s success hiring and promoting A Players soared from 25% to over 90% and GE became the most valuable and most respected company in the world.

Since the GE “story” became widely known, hundreds of other companies have embraced Topgrading as the best practice in hiring, including Honeywell, American Heart Association, Barclays, Maxion (largest wheels manufacturer in the world), E*TRADE, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Argo, Shell, private equity companies, non-profits (YMCAs, AltaMed, etc.), and dozens of smaller companies.

Is Topgrading the Best Hiring Method? Topgrading does make a rather dramatic claim — to be the most proven and the most effective hiring method. The strongest evidence is the dozens of case studies at The Master Chart shows an average improvement from 26% high performers hired pre-Topgrading to 85% with Topgrading. The CEOs say that Topgrading made the company more profitable. In recent months Culligan and E*TRADE were added; the CEO (Paul Idzik) says E*TRADE would have gone out of business had he not Topgraded.

Topgrading Online Solutions (TOLS). We were hired for a day by a group consisting of just the #1 HR executives of just the largest 100 companies in the world. They agreed Topgrading is the best but challenged us to develop world-class software that could integrate with their Applicant Tracking Systems. We took that advice and today TOLS 3.0 is integrating with Applicant Tracking Systems. TOLS 3.0 also offers what we think is by far the best candidate screening tool, the Topgrading Snapshot.

The CEO of Culligan (Scott Clawson) said: “The Snapshot is amazing! It saves HR 25% of hiring time because it scares away the low performers. Good! And by scanning a Snapshot in seconds it’s immediately apparent if the candidate is a job hopper, you can see full salary history, and best of all, you see accurate ratings of performance by all bosses.”

Topgrading Today. Topgrading Professionals continue to offer in-depth interviews of senior candidates (where the cost of a mis-hire is extremely high), and provide executive assessments and coaching of all senior leaders, to help CEOs and HR with succession planning. We advise CEOs and heads of HR on how to roll out Topgrading.

As Topgrading, Inc. grows it remains committed to providing user-friendly, legally defensible hiring methods that are shown in dozens of named case studies to be the only hiring approach to double and triple hiring success.