The Most Revealing Hiring Interview Guide

Written by: Dr. Brad Smart


To watch the vlog please click on the play button below.  To read the blog please scroll past the video.

I’ll start this blog with my commitment to you:  Stick with me on this Beginning Topgrading blog series and you can double or even triple your hiring success, just as tens of thousands of managers have done.

What began as blogs on how to interview better has evolved into a series we’re calling Beginning Topgrading and this might evolve into 10 or 20 blogs, depending on you – how interested readers are in improving their hiring success.

This blog integrates the first 3 blogs with a dynamite interview guide making a package – 4 blogs that constitute a great short course on how to use the Topgrading Hiring Solution- the best hiring method to create a team of almost all high performers.  View the  1st, 2nd, 3rd and new 4th blog to get the whole package.


 In recent months blogs have explained:

  • The Topgrading “truth serum” to motivate candidates to tell you the whole truth,
  • How to get candidates to arrange reference calls with their bosses, and
  • The top 10 most revealing interview questions

These are all integrated in this short course in hiring, with the focus of this blog on how to conduct the most important, most revealing hiring interview ever, using a short version of the Topgrading Interview Guide.  But first …

 Prior to the Topgrading Interview —   Conduct a Telephone Screening Interview.  Here’s how:

  • Let candidates know that a final step in hiring is for them (not you) to arrange reference calls with their bosses and others YOU choose after interviews. Inform them that this request is likely to come at the time of a job offer, and that offer will be contingent upon “no surprises” in those reference calls.
  • This “truth serum” has worked for over 40 years. Low performers and the 25%+ candidates who have lies in their resume and commonly hype successes and hide failures … drop out.  Good!  You just interview the honest, high performing candidates.  Literally millions of those reference calls have been arranged and here’s another benefit when candidates arrange the calls — no phone tag!
  • Answer their questions about the job first,
  • Then ask about the most recent 2 jobs (using the questions below), their plans for the future short term and long-term
  • If you want to move ahead and they do too, explain that the Topgrading Interview will take (45 minutes for clerk, 2 hours for sales rep, 4 hours for mid-manager) and it’s a chronological interview.


Restate the “truth serum” including: “we’d ask you to arrange calls with bosses and others only at a time you are comfortable with – like when a job offer might be extended.”

EDUCATION (15 minutes for mid-manager)

Please go back to your high school and college years, and briefly go through the high points:

  • Grades
  • Degrees
  • Activities/leadership
  • Summer jobs
  • Important influences – people who contributed to who you are today in terms of your career interests, your personality, and your values.

FOR EVERY FULL-TIME JOB (90-minutes for mid-manager who has had 8 jobs; 5 minutes on first job if short and very low level; 20 minutes on most recent 2 jobs each)

  • Confirm resume: After graduation you worked at ACME as an Accountant from (dates), right?
  • Why did you take that job?
  • What were your main successes?
  • What were mistakes or failures?
  • Appraise your manager: his/her strengths and weaker points.
  • What is your best guess as to how that manager, if you arranged a reference call would appraise your overall performance and list as your strengths and weaker points?
  • Why did you leave and what did you look for in the next job?


  • Self-appraisal: We’ve asked what bosses would say and now we’re asking you to please list your strengths and weaker points.
  • What is your ideal next job?
  • How does our job stack up against your ideal … and any other possible jobs of interest?
  • What are your 5-year and 10-year goals?

To learn more about Topgrading go to and download the eGuide, Topgrading401.

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