From the Desk of Brad Smart: How to Evaluate Different Hiring Methods

Are you an executive who is not satisfied with your hiring success? You’re not alone. A global survey of CEOs showed a chronic concern of CEOs is “bad hires.” In our practice assessing and coaching senior executives, we ask them detailed questions about every job, and the #1 most common failure across 12,000 executives, who had an average of 10 managerial jobs, was 120,000 versions of “bad hires.” Costly bad hires.

At the CEO level, frustration with Quality of Hire frequently results in giving Human Resources the challenge of finding a ‘better’ method. But too often a replacement system has been based on glitzy presentations, unproven theories, and the promise of ‘ease’ when making the change, leaving essential stones unturned.

This blog is not impartial. After listing the key facts, I have then added Topgrading’s facts. Our work with leading companies, as well as small and mid-sized companies, has surfaced a practical checklist of key questions to ask purveyors.

  • Does the hiring approach you measure present “good” performers hired, or high performers? CEOs and heads of HR want HIGH performers.  Only Topgrading measures percent high performers (A Players) hired.
  • Does the hiring approach enable you to talk with their client CEOs and heads of HR? If they say, “that’s proprietary, of course we cannot disclose client information,” show them the door. All they have to do is ASK client CEOs and heads of HR if they would be willing to talk. And for the following questions, vague or dodgy answers should result in the same response. Topgrading clients give us permission to use their results and name them … because they know A Players want to work with A Players, and Topgrading attracts A Players.
  • What’s the baseline — the percent high performers hired — of the hiring method prior to clients adapting the hiring method? All companies start with about 25% success hiring A Players.
  • What was the hiring method’s level of improvement? If their baseline was 25% high performers hired, how high was it after one year, two years? If they don’t assure you that reference calls will confirm clients at least doubled their success hiring high performers, again, show them the door. Topgrading suggests that clients set the bar at 75% high performers hired, as a minimum improvement. No other hiring approach we’re aware of points to tripling Quality of Hire as a standard goal.
  • What will clients of the hiring method say are the typical costs of mis-hires at various levels — financial costs and hours of wasted time? All companies using our free Cost of a Bad Hire Calculator show high costs in terms of money and time wasted.
  • What have been cost savings with the hiring method? Topgrading clients are happy to report dramatic reduction in both financial costs and “wasted time.”
  • What would clients of the hiring method say have been the impact of your hiring method on sales and profits? Their client CEOs should be certain their profits have shot up with more A Players. Only Topgrading has dozens of case studies with named CEOs confirming that sales and profits improved because Topgrading methods were embraced.
  • What are the hiring method’s most impressive case studies?
  • If you use candidate assessment tools, how effective are they at identifying the best candidates and reducing turnover? The Topgrading PreScreen Snapshot produces extremely accurate estimated performance ratings.
  • Does the hiring method offer a money-back guarantee for results? Topgrading does.

Dr. Brad Smart is Founder and CEO of Topgrading, Inc. Topgrading is dedicated to helping companies of all sizes maximize the hiring of high performers. Topgrading assesses candidates for senior positions (where the costs of mis-hires are high) and trains all managers to create teams of almost all high performers.

Brad has seven published books on hiring; the most recent three (the first, second, and third editions of Topgrading) were all best sellers. Brad, and President Chris Mursau’s new book, Foolproof Hiring (Forbes Books), is available for purchase by clicking here. After just six weeks, Foolproof Hiring, has achieved Amazon Best Seller status.

Brad can be reached at

To learn more, download our free eGuide or attend our next Topgrading Webinar. Our webinar explains the most effective recruitment methods, how to immediately identify the most honest, high performing applicants, and how to (finally!) verify what candidates tell you (since reference calls are usually worthless).

Contact us to learn more.

Improve your hiring success with Topgrading. Our proven hiring process will transform your selection methodology so that you get better hiring results across all industries, including hiring HR professionals.  Our leadership and candidate assessment tools will help you assess, hire, retain, and grow outstanding team members. Contact us to learn more!

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