Top Grading Interviews

Using "Top Grading" for effective interviewing

Success in hiring hinges on the clarity of information shared.
To achieve this, Top Grading looks at:

  • 2-way fit to ensure there is a match between what you seek in a candidate and that the role is one where the candidate will flourish 

  • Patterns throughout a career to predict how a candidate will perform in their new role

This is done by looking at:

  1. Behaviours while getting a result rather than just at the result

  2. A reflective perspective rather than just the candidate’s own perspective

For each career achievement

Questions about behaviours rather than outcomes:

  • What did you enjoy most about the role?

  • What was the least enjoyable part of your responsibilities?

  • What would you say was your biggest success? Why do you feel that?

  • What was the biggest mistake you made on the project?

  • What would other people (your staff, peers or customers) remember as the biggest success? What would they say “Wow, that went well” about?

  • With your additional 10 years of experience what is the biggest thing you would have done differently? Why do you say that?

For each career achievement

Questions to get a reflective perspective:

  • How would your team describe you as a manager?

  • What would your boss say about you as a leader?

Probe - "I understand but you have only touched on your strengths as a manager… what would they say about your weaknesses?"

Phrase more pointedly if needed:

  • If I contacted some of your staff, what would they say about you as their manager?

  • If your boss was here, what would they tell me were your strengths and weaknesses as a leader?

For each career achievement

Verify Answers:

  • Who was your boss at that time?

  • Are you still in contact with him/her?

  • May I contact him/her?

  • Are you still in contact with any of your peers or staff from...?


Describe a situation in which you experienced difficulty leading a team. What were the reasons and how did you overcome this?

  • How would those on the team describe the way in which you resolved the issues?

  • At that time, who was your boss?

  • How would they describe your handling of this situation?

  • Are you still in contact with any members of that team?

  • May I contact them/your ex-boss?

  • With the benefit of 10 more years experience, what would you now do differently if you face the same situation?