General Electric Case Study (1987-2000)

Tandem Topgrading Interview Leads to Over 80% High Performers

No. of Employees: 300k
Industry: Multinational Conglomerate


  • Topgrading methodology applied; Tandem Topgrading Interview created and implemented for exponential improvement
  • Improvement from an estimated 25% to over 80% high performers hired and promoted.
  • Market cap improved from $39B to $570B
  • GE became the most valuable company in the world.


Jack Welch became CEO of General Electric and he was only able to increase GE's market capitalization from $13B to $39B in six years. He was frustrated by mis-hires and mis-promotions.

The percent of managers hired or promoted who turned out to be high performers was estimated to be 25% – a number that is unfortunately typical for most businesses, large and small, in all industries.

GE's Human Resources teams were tasked with finding a highly effective hiring approach, but none was found – until one HR leader read Topgrading. 

"The Topgrading methods are the best tools in our arsenal for getting an in-depth understanding of high-potential managers." 
- Bill Conaty, SVP Human Resources (retired) 


Welch met Brad Smart and rolled out Topgrading at GE in 1987. Smart trained HR professionals to perform Topgrading interviews, and HR in turn trained managers throughout GE. Through this rollout, GE’s success hiring improved from 25% to 50%. Impressive, but Welch was still not satisfied. To improve Topgrading’s effectiveness, Smart created the Tandem Topgrading Interview, which became an integral part of the Topgrading methodology. With two interviewers, GE’s success in hiring high performers improved to over 80%. 

In addition, Smart and other Topgrading professionals interviewed candidates alongside GE’s senior leaders to ensure the most thorough interviews possible. They also coached the existing executive team, which resulted in significant improvement.


Executives coached by Topgrading improved their Emotional Intelligence, improving operating results overall.

In conjunction with GE’s talent improvement from 25% to over 80% A Players, the company’s market cap increased from $39B in 1987 to $572B in 2000 (before the recession). 

general electric graph

"We embraced Topgrading, the percent A Players hired and promoted shot up, and GE became the most valuable company in the world." 

- Jack Welch, Chairman and CEO (retired) 

Ready to begin hiring almost all high performers? Contact us.


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