Top Grading

As part of our ongoing effort to ensure that our clients only employ the best candidates in the market, we are pleased to announce that we now utilise Top Grading as an assessment tool. Top Grading represents the latest thinking in candidate assessment and is regarded internationally as the ultimate interview tool. It has been featured in luminary journals such as Fortune. Fortune Small Business, Leadership Excellence, The Wall Street Journal and Directors and Boards. Without exception Top Grading has been hailed as the “silver bullet” for both external and internal candidate assessment.


As an introduction to Top Grading, we would ask you to consider the last 10 hires you have made. How many of these individuals consistently exceed expectations - or are A Players? How many meet expectations and how many simply fail to achieve the goals set for them – your B and C Players. Research undertaken by Smart and Associates shows that fewer than 25% of hires, turn out to be A Players.


How is this possible? Using Competency based interview techniques, psychometrics and a myriad of other assessment tools, our batting averages are still only around the 25% mark. We know that competitive advantage derives from the people in the organisation, and that true competitive advantage comes from the A Players. How is it then possible that despite our best efforts at recruiting top calibre individuals, the majority of our hires do little to build our competitive advantage?


The following table clearly shows how Top Grading can improve the talent in your organisation:


Typical Company Results
Top Graded Company Results
Percentage hired who turn out to be
Percentage promoted who turn out to be A-Players
Percentage of A-Players in Management


The reality is that Competency Based Recruitment and Psychometric assessments only provide partial information. A hiring decision based on partial information is little better than a bet on the roulette table. It is for this reason that most external hires and even internal promotions, do not come up to expectations.


Top Grading guarantees a 90% success rate in terms of hiring and promoting A Players. Can you imagine the impact on your business if you only employed A Players – some of the experiences of organisations that have moved to Top Grading are:

  • The top 3% of Sales people produce 250% more than average; the top 20% produce 120% more than average
  • Paper plants managed by A Players produce 94% higher profits than other plants
  • More talented investment bankers are twice as productive as those average in talent
  • Return to shareholders for companies with top talent practices averages 22% above industry means
  • The top 3% of programmers produce 1200% more lines of code than average, whilst the top 20% produce 320% more than average

It doesn’t matter what industry sector or what level you are recruiting for, your goal needs to be to hire A Players.


As with any worthwhile exercise, Top Grading requires a major effort across the organisation. The results are worth it.