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on May 31, 2014
It's a long interview. And a long book. But it's totally worth reading and doing it - we have hired probably 75 people using the method, and we have been surprised by what happened only three times. You can't beat that kind of of consistency.

We do differ from the Smarts' method in one way: we send out all the questions in the structured interview ahead of time and ask our interviewees to come to the interview with all the answers already written down. That way they aren't searching for information as we do the interview, and we can still do lots of "tell me more" that gets them off-book and into the truth.

Good stuff, and it improved our hiring process measurably.
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on April 30, 2017
It's a good concept but may not work always.

Keeping high talent and motivating the workforce is quite challenging.

Topgrading provides a way to do so. However, let us remember that

performance evaluation itself has problems, it's a very inexact practice.

Also, if people realize how to play the system, you may end up with C players dominating and kicking out the A players.
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There is a wealth of information in Topgrading. Most business owners do not understand the importance of having the right people in the right spots. As the statistics show, about 75% of the people hired for a job are mis-hires. That is to say they are not the best available for the job and the salary range in the location of the job. In short, they are not "A" employees.

There are many business that have a protective culture. Once an employee, they are entitled to keep their job. As Dr. Smart points out, your company cannot afford to continue to mis-hire and/or keep the "B & C" employees on the payroll. Business is simply too competitive.

The book is well written and covers the subject in depth. The book is long and it can be slow reading. However, as Brad points out, you do not need to read all the details. It is designed so that you can read the bullet points and delve deeper in those sections that are of particular interest to you.

The book is primarily written for those hiring managers in larger companies. The most value to be gained will be from those companies that fit that category. However it is well documented that the cost of mis-hires and the percentage of mis-hires is too high for any employer to ignore the information in this book.

There is a wealth of information in the appendix. Most people will say that hiring this way takes too much time and cost too much. To that anyone who understands the process would ask, how much time and money does it cost to make a hiring mistake and how much to do it over.

In today's competitive environment, business owners do not have the luxury to allow "B & C" employees to run the ship. If you truly want to run a top notch company, you will only achieve that with "A" employees.

Everyone knows that the quality and growth of your business will depend on the quality of your employees. This is a wonderful manual for getting 90% "A" players on your team.

A must read for anyone responsible for hiring in their company - no matter the size of the company.
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on November 25, 2012
Man this was hard to read. Very dry and not very much fun. This book has changed the way my company hires employees. The interview and performance management ideas here are well worth the effort to read and implement. MY teams performance has improved tremendously. The employees are more engaged and striving for excellence. The gains have been reflected in the bottom line as well. Turnover is down 38% and record profits this year. Less employees are doing more work and payroll costs are down 18% due to hiring and coaching people to A player status!
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on April 5, 2014
The book was priced reasonably and arrived on time but the whole top grading concept is a bit different. I passed the interview but even the company said it was more on personality and skill set rather than the top grading concept. It seemed to be pushed on them by PHD's rather than real world people.
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on February 25, 2011
This book contains a staggering number of grammatical errors. Too bad Mr. Smart doesn't follow his own advice and put himself in the top ten percent league of writers.

If you're into "topgrading", be sure and do some research into what companies are doing it and what their affiliations are with the author.
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on March 16, 2000
Sure, the style leaves something to be desired. The author assumes a well-educated reader, with some experience as a supervisor at a pretty high level. But this book is JAM-PACKED with valuable information based on experience, not conjecture.

It answers probably 75% of the nagging questions I've had over the years in dealing with employees (hiring, coaching, performance management/evaluation, and yes, firing). And it does so comprehensively and cohesively.

What I like best is that Dr Smart's methodology is fully integrated: the (comprehensive) information collected before hiring is the SAME info used to coach an employee to greatness. The SAME measures are used to evaluate growth, and the SAME measures are used to determine if it is time for an employee (or myself!) to move on.

I only wish the content was available 20 years ago... and that the Appendices (interview forms, evaluation forms, etc) were available online or came on a CD with the book. :-)
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on July 28, 2000
This book is a presentation of how to perform a truly in-depth interview for management candidates. The interviewing process will allow you and your company to select 'A' players for key positions. You will be able to use the materials shown here as an outstanding tool, giving you insight into the candidates experience, performance history, and growth allowing you to determine what they are capable of today and in the future. This will, in short, let you go from hoping your next hire works out to being confident your next hire will be a star.
Of course there is no tool that does not require effort and this is no exception. You will need to spend the time to develop the description and needs of the position. Moreover, you will have to personally dedicate the time to get to know the candidate. It won't take you months or weeks, but it will require you to spend many hours; interviewing, reviewing, analyzing.
Is it really worth your time to go into such depth when hiring? Not just hours, but days? The real question is whether you can afford not to.
*Note: I am about to start preaching* I am a big believer that the biggest keys to success in business centers around the strategy, the systems, and the staffing. A good system (processes) can lead average people to better than average results, but getting the system to accomplish that much--where it is easier to do a task right than it is to do it wrong--is very difficult. A truly good staff though can accomplish goals despite a poor or average system though. A good senior staff can make a strategy better and make the system into what it should be in the first place. Without the right staff, those individuals who can lead and learn and grow and mold, the company will not reach its potential. And I mean bottom-line potential, sales potential, growth of staff and customers and suppliers and etc, etc, etc. A good senior staff can bring the rest of the company up to its level. Anything less than a good senior staff is a travesty, a travesty the CEO, board, or shareholders should get rid of. I mean can them today. *Sermon over*
This first half of the book may be the strongest part of the book for just this reason. Dr. Smart and I agree that people make a difference and he is convincing when stating you /must/ spend the time to choose the right candidate or you risk failure. Not just poor performance, but failure in your department or company.
Using his experience with Fortune 500 companies, and especially with GE and Jack Welch, the author presents a picture of how using good methods to select and hire outstanding personnel in your budget range (whether internal or external) will lead to greater success. Do you really want to take the easy way out during the interview if it will lead to failure tomorrow?
As almost a bonus (or filler chapter), Dr. Smart also suggests how to use the interviewing techniques to coach employees into becoming 'A' players. While Management by Objective is no longer a fashionable phrase, it is a valuable tool in the managment arsenal. This book gives you the framework to use MBO as you coach your employees.
In the first week after I read the book I recommended it to three small business owners who need to hire good people. I recommend you read 'Topgrading' the next time you are looking for a manager...
...or VP or president or CEO.
*feedback welcome at: jeffrey@davidson.net
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on June 21, 2017
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on July 21, 2010
Though the book spends a too many pages trying to convince the reader of the value of the methodology, over the last five years Topgrading has been one of the most influential systems we've implemented at our small high-tech firm (55 employees). Topgrading, quite simply, has transformed our hiring and dramatically the quality of our company. The cost of this book is nothing compared to the value you'll derive. Even if you choose not to implement the methodology and only use a selection of the best questions from the appendices, this book will pay for itself many times over.
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