Your Guide to the Topgrading Recruitment Process - EmployeeConnect HRIS
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Your Guide to the Topgrading Recruitment Process

The ultimate goal for every recruiter is to place an eligible candidate in a position which proves to be a perfect match for both company & candidate. When you are looking for a candidate with high potential, who is likely to be a high performer, you require the aid of advanced recruiting practices. One such candidate sourcing technique is topgrading.

What is Topgrading?

Topgrading is an interview technique which provides a comprehensive professional background and personality details of a candidate. This method entails a thorough candidate screening methods as compared to a regular interview.

The primary objective of topgrading is to build a high-quality task force comprising of top performers. In this technique, the recruiter needs to conduct a series of interviews to gain an in-depth perspective on every potential candidate. During the entire topgrading process, the interviewers seek for patterns in the answers provided by the candidate.

Topgrading interview process involves 10 steps which may be modified or customised based on your specific requirement.

The Topgrading Interview Process

When looking for the most qualified candidate, you should certainly consider the topgrading process. This process enables you to make a well educated and evidence based hiring decision. You no longer have to just rely on general job applications or resumes to hunt for the right candidate.

Listed below are the 12 steps followed during the topgrading interview process. You may customise the steps based on your needs.

1. Analyse and improve the present hiring process

Analyse and study the present hiring process. Observe and make a note of how many top performers are hired and also prepare a list of the bad hires made. Prepare for the interview stage by improving the present hiring process. For instance, you may identify a quite vague and poorly written job description. To rectify this, write effective job descriptions.

2. Create a job scoreboard

Before you begin searching for the top performing candidate, you must gain clarity on the type of candidate that is required for a specific position. Gain a thorough understanding of what an ideal candidate appears like on paper. Make a list of the requirements and paint the big picture for the best candidate before you begin contacting the candidates.

Select at least around 15-20 criteria points to help you compare candidates. Score each candidate based on the answers that match your criteria. These scores will help to identify a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

3. Begin your search

You can begin your search for the ideal candidate by placing an advertisement listing out the skills, personality traits, and experience required for the said position. Provide a detailed job description. If you’re a seasoned recruiter, you will have access to a recruiting database of potential candidates. Search within your network for candidates who are already high performers in their respective organisations. Take the help of social media and job board sites to advertise the job opening. You can also take the help of ATS recruiting software to track and sort candidates. With the help of this software, you can import resumes and view them in a uniform format. This makes it easier to compare and seek the best candidates.

4. Use work history forms to screen candidates

A work history form entails a detailed list of topgrading questions which enquire about a candidate’s past work history. The form asks questions about reasons for leaving jobs, boss ratings like and dislikes in jobs, compensation histories, self-appraisal etc.

With the help of a work history form, you can sift weak candidates who twist the truth on their resumes. Since the same questions are asked to each candidate on the form, you will spend less time going through and deciphering resumes of candidates.

5. Set up phone interviews

Once you have your list ready from the pool of promising candidates, you should set up phone interviews. This will save your time from conducting unsuccessful in-person interviews. During the conversation, try to explain the job requirements in detail. If you find the candidate is interested, spend around 45 minutes probing about their present or recent job. Ask questions about their successes, passions, failures, goals, and critical decisions made. After this phase, sift the candidates that you wish to call for face to face interview.

6. Conduct competency interviews

Competency interviews focus on general topics such as behaviour and proficiency. It provides you with a quick insight regarding the candidates. Keep these conversations around an hour long. Allow the candidates to ask questions regarding the job position or the work environment.

7. Conduct a topgrading interview

The top grading interview thoroughly reviews a candidate’s past experiences and jobs. It is an intensive interview which provides a roadmap of where the candidate is currently placed. During the interview ask questions regarding motivations, successes, past events, and failures that led them to their present knowledge, skills, and values. The questions asked during a top grading interview are usually in chronological order. It begins with high school and ends with the goals that the candidate has for his or her future. Although the process appears exhausting, it is not as burdensome as it may sound from the description. Take the help of the work history form, follow the topgrading interview guide, ask relevant questions to the candidates, and take down notes at your end.

8. Give each other feedback

In the topgrading interview process, the interviewers provide feedback to each other directly post the interview. This helps to improve the interviewing skills. After the process is over, discuss the interviews with your client and share tips from your end. In case you were also a part of the interviewing process, allow your client to provide you feedback too.

9. Write down a summary

Writing down a summary helps to identify patterns in a candidate’s experiences and work history. You should analyse the collected data regarding the candidate and compile it into a summary. This will help you to compare potential candidates.

10. Ask the candidate to make arrangements for reference calls

Once the interviews are over, ask the candidates to make arrangements for reference calls. They would need to contact their references and set up interviews with them. This step is also helpful in finding the right candidate. High performers easily provide the contacts of their previous managers or bosses.

After you have contacted the references, you may place each candidate in any one of the below categories:

  • Top 10%
  • Next 25%
  • Others

With the topgrading interview process, only the top 10% of candidates make it, as they are the most qualified of the lot and are like to be high performers.

Once a candidate is hired, you must start to measure the performance of the employees. Review the performance and hiring success of the candidates annually so that the team stays focused on performance round the year.

The questions asked during the topgrading interview process are designed in such a manner that it helps to piece together the overall experience of a candidate. It helps you to comprehend the thought process of the candidate as well as the communication skills. You must add behavioural interview questions to improve the topgrading interview process. Ensure that you ask the questions in chronological order.

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Byron Conway

Content Coordinator at EmployeeConnect