Our Story

We help companies build A teams

We’ve been in the business of identifying high performers for over 40 years. Brad Smart began his career with the vision of mastering interviewing and testing of candidates to help companies hire and promote not just “okay” performers, but high performers, A Players. He went on the earn a Ph.D in Psychology to further hone his skills. He found himself disappointed in the lack of business studies showing methods for identifying high performers.

Even after joining a consultancy of management psychologists who assessed candidates for executive jobs, the success rate of identifying top candidates was only 33%. While that was good enough to satisfy clients who only got a 20% success rate prior to a professional assessment, it wasn’t good enough for Brad. He remembers telling his wife, “If I were a medical doctor and two-thirds of my patients left the hospital in body bags, I'd feel like a failure." He concluded that the whole world stumbled along with not just weak hiring methods, but poor methods, and those were costly, hurt profits, and slowed the career progress of most managers. He began burning with a passion to try to identify the causes and find fixes.

Brad was able to determine that the main causes bad hiring were:

  • Candidates were fooling hiring managers and HR teams
  • Interviews didn’t reveal enough weaker points
  • Candidate verification was weak
  • Most screening tools were easy to fake

Brad was determined to find solutions that screen applicants with a tool that identifies the best performers, uses interviews that reveal all the important strengths and weaker points, and ensures rock-solid verification of what candidates said.

It was in the late 1980s when a General Electric executive found and read Brad’s first book. He introduced Brad to CEO Jack Welch and the most successful talent infusion in history was launched. Brad trained 100 HR executives who trained thousands of managers. The GE Case study shows spectacular increases in sales and profits, and GE became the most valuable company in the world.

GE’s success story spread across Global 500 companies for over a decade. Jack Welch shared his Topgrading secret weapon and encouraged hundreds of vendors to Topgrade. We helped organizations such as Barclays, Shell Oil, Honeywell, Home Depot, UBS, Citi, Goldman Sachs, Danaher, Merck, NASA, International Monetary Fund, City of Chicago, Hill-Rom, HEB Grocery Company, American Heart Association, and many more.


Today our client list has diversified to include hundreds of small and medium sized businesses, proving Topgrading works for any organization, large or small. We’ve created an applicant screening tool that allows recruiters and talent acquisition leaders to quickly screen applicants and focus on just the best candidates.  Our software package facilitates the full hiring process and integrates with applicant tracking systems.

Topgrading is not just for executives. We’ve worked with clients to develop a thorough, but very efficient hiring process for implementation by managers at all levels, even first level supervisors. And our passion for helping companies hire A players will continue until the proven hiring methods are embraced everywhere.

Topgrading Executive Biographies

Dr Brad Smart
Founder and CEO
Topgrading, Inc.
Featured Forbes Books Author

Brad has been married to wife Mary since 1969, has 11 grandchildren, and competes in Masters Springboard Diving. In his age group he occasionally wins, because better divers eventually drop out and Brad is the “last man … springing!”

Brad completed his doctorate in Management Psychology at Purdue University, entered consulting, and since the 1970s has been in private practice as President and CEO of his company, now called Topgrading, Inc., based in the Chicago area.

As Topgrading’s Founder, Brad is frequently referred to as the world’s foremost expert on hiring. Topgrading helps leading companies and SMEs pack their teams with A Players. Throughout his extensive career Brad has conducted in-depth interviews with over 6,500 executives.  He’s semi-retired, but proudly passing the baton to President Chris Mursau who, with his Team of Topgrading Professionals, assess and coach senior executives and conduct Topgrading Workshops.

Brad is author of seven books. The most complete “textbook” is Topgrading, 3rd Edition: The Proven Hiring And Promoting Method That Turbocharges Company Performance. His latest book is Foolproof Hiring, co-authored with his president, Chris Mursau.

Chris Mursau
Topgrading, Inc.
Featured Forbes Books Author

Chris has been assessing and coaching executives, consulting, and teaching organizations how to use Topgrading since 2000.

As President, Chris leads a team of Topgrading Professionals, all of whom are the only certified Topgrading trainers. Chris has conducted over 3,500 in-depth Topgrading assessments for internal and external candidates and helped a vast array of organizations pack their teams with A Players. Dozens of case study companies transformed their teams from 26% to 85% high performers hired, enabling team members to enjoy more successful careers and bolstering company growth and profitability. Chris’ client list is broad and diverse, including Fortune 500 companies, small to medium-sized businesses, and non-profit organizations.  In times of economic upheaval, Topgrading’s approach is the most business critical, enabling companies to survive and flourish.

The Topgrading Team

Our Topgrading team of professionals assess and coach leaders and advise CEOs and HR as Topgrading is rolled out. Services include organizing two-day on site or remote workshops, integrating Topgrading software in ATSs, installing the PreScreen Snapshot applicant screening tool, and organizing communications. Measurements document the reality that a higher percentage of A Players leads to assures greater profits and growth.

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