Topgrading Interview

Past Performance is the Best Predictor of Future Performance

The Topgrading Interview is a process – a series of interviews including a telephone screen, face-to-face competency interviews and finally, a comprehensive tandem interview. Before interviews, candidates have been pre-screened and narrowed down to a select few using the Job Scorecard ratings.

Telephone Screening

Starting with a telephone screening instead of a face-to-face initial meeting helps avoid wasted time on candidates who are not a good fit for the role. The telephone interview includes:

  • Description of company and position
  • Invitation for candidate to ask questions about the job
  • Review most recent job successes, failures, supervisor appraisal and reason for leaving
  • Two questions from competencies
  • Explanation of the Topgrading process if agreed to move forward

A telephone screening is followed up by updating the Job Scorecard with any new ratings – if they meet the minimum acceptable rating, it’s time to invite them in for the next step of the Topgrading interview process.

Competency Interviews

Candidates who have met the minimum acceptable rating after a telephone screening will be invited to participate in face-to-face competency interviews. Selected employees will interview the candidates one-on-one to ask about one or more of the key competencies identified in the Job Scorecard. These interviews are uniform in construction and structured to maintain an objective process.

During a competency interview, candidates are encouraged to ask questions of the different interviewers for insight into the company’s culture and job responsibilities. Candidates who remain in the pool of qualified applicants and are interested in proceeding will move on to the final step of the Topgrading interview process.

Topgrading Tandem Interview

The most powerful hiring tool is the tandem interview – led by two people, it is a chronological interview starting with the school years and progressing through every job to the present. Two people who have different roles and personalities are best for interviewing candidates for well-rounded discussion and maintaining objectivity. At least one of the interviewers should be experienced in the Topgrading method.

The Topgrading tandem interview is comprehensive and includes:

  • Plans and Goals
  • Self-Appraisal
  • Competency Questions
  • Every success, failure, important decision and important relationship (boss relationships and boss ratings)

Once concluded, the tandem interviewers compile feedback and determine whether or not the candidate presents as a high performer based on all the data collected from each step of the Topgrading interview process.

Learn more about the importance of taking the time for interviews in our blog - Why One or One and Half Interviews are not Enough.

The Topgrading Process

Topgrading Job Scorecard - A list of measurable accountabilities, core values, and behavioral competencies that describe how a person is performing in their role.

Topgrading Interview -  the signature Topgrading Interview accurately identifies patterns of strength, weakness, habit, values, and performance of job candidates.

Candidate Arranged Reference Calls - Candidates know in advance that they will be asked to arrange reference calls with recent managers and often a couple of peers and direct reports.

Candidate Analysis - A uniform, rigorous analysis and an accurate conclusion as to whether a candidate will be high-performing addition to the team.

See Topgrading in Action

Why Topgrading?

The Topgrading Interview is one of the most powerful hiring tools in the candidate selections process. If you think you don’t have time to use a thorough interview process, consider the amount of hours and monetary cost associated with mis-hires.

Talk to an advisor to see how Topgrading can help you in your candidate selection process.

Our assessments help clients get critical hires right over 90% of the time.


Improve your hiring success with Topgrading. The Topgrading methodology will transform your hiring process by increasing the number of A player hires and decreasing the number of mis-hires. Our leadership and candidate assessment tools will help you assess, hire, retain, and grow high performing teams. Contact us to learn more about the Topgrading approach to hiring and start achieving better hiring results now!

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