The Topgrading Story

You need a great team to make it to the top.


Topgrading was born from a firm conviction: That the #1 most important factor in every company’s success is talent – having a team of high performers. But the same factors contributing to mis-hires decades ago still contribute to costly mis-hires today for almost all companies.

Brad Smart Headshot

Dr. Brad Smart
CEO, Topgrading, Inc.

As Founder of Topgrading, I completed a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology at Purdue University … frustrated. Academic studies of talent and hiring all but ignored the issue of how to hire high performers. Upon graduating, I worked for two consultancies specializing in assessing candidates for executive roles, but they relied on the same one-hour interviews and personality tests that everyone else used. The problem was that this process resulted in only 30% of the candidates we recommended turning out to be high performers. I almost quit and changed occupations. I told my wife, “If I were a doctor and 70% of my patients left the hospital in body bags, I’d feel like a failure.”

I made it my mission to discover just how companies could hire almost all high performers and eventually called the resulting methodology Topgrading. One big problem was, and still is, low performers can easily highlight their successes and hide their failures and weaker points. Our solution assures honesty and transparency. I transformed shallow, unrevealing interviews into a thorough, highly revealing engagement -- the Topgrading Interview. Verifying what candidates claim on their resumes and in interviews has been weak. Our solution verifies key data such as performance ratings by managers and real reasons for leaving jobs. With candidates willing to be more transparent and putting less spin on their work history, with interviews revealing everything you need to know, and with solid verification of conclusions, employers get a deep understanding of candidate roles and results, strengths and weaker points. So naturally, success hiring high performers shoots up, as documented in dozens of case studies.

Chris Mursau Headshot

Chris Mursau
President, Topgrading, Inc.

Chris joined Topgrading in 2000. As President, he leads a team of Topgrading Professionals who assess candidates for executive positions. Hundreds of companies provide that service, but using the full Topgrading methodology, over 90% of candidates hired turn out to be high performers.

Chris’ Topgrading professionals are the only certified Topgrading trainers. The team has trained tens of thousands of managers. Dozens of case study companies (see Client Results) transformed their teams from 26% to 85%+ high performers, enabling their managers to enjoy more successful careers while ensuring companies grow and become more profitable.

In this time of unprecedented upheaval in the talent environment, Topgrading’s approach has never been more business critical.

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