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Book Review: Topgrading by Bradford Smart


Topgrading by Bradford Smart

Many companies are looking for an effective interviewing system. After all, hiring is a risky endeavor with some hefty financial costs. No one wants to get it wrong and deal with the long term consequences.

Topgrading is such as a system. After reading the book and using the system at one company I worked (the system was in place before I got there), I can't recommend either. It isn't that the program or book is totally wrong, I just think it misrepresents the process. In my experience, it didn't improve the hiring decisions at all.

In short, the system focuses on consistency and a lengthy interview process to fully understand a person. The final interview is designed to take 3 to 4 hours and goes all the way back to a candidates school experiences. For someone who is just leaving college, not a big deal. For someone with 20 years experience, it goes back a long way. On it's face, the idea of such an in-depth interview makes sense - the more you know, the better you can decide. It just gives a false sense of security.

One of the things I found most misleading was the concept that it helps you hire only A players. When you dig deeper, the book discusses how you might not need A players in certain situations. So the interviewing flaws remain because you can rationalize why you wouldn't hire an A player.

I know a few people who really enjoy and would swear by this system. I don't think they are mistaken, I just think they spend a lot of unnecessary time and effort for little to no return.

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