Topgrading Interviews- The Power of Patterns

November 11, 2009

In my last post, I discussed the key questions to ask when conducting a screening interview. Once you have determined that a candidate has passed his/her phone screen, you should schedule and conduct an in-person Topgrading Interview. As outlined in Who and Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People, Topgrading is an interview is which your main purpose is to look for patterns in a candidate’s behavior and for facts and stories to support your conclusions. Below are a list of questions that are imperative to ask a candidate during this stage of the interview process, especially when building management teams.

Questions to ask in a Topgrading Interview:
1. What were you hired to do in your previous job?
2. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
3. What were some low points during that job?
4. Who were the people you worked with? Specifically:
a. What was your boss’ name? What was it like working with him/her? What will he/she tell me were your biggest strengths and areas for improvement?
b. For those on management teams: How would you rate the team you inherited on an A, B, C scale? What changes did you make? Did you hire or fire anybody? How would you rate the team when you left on an A, B, C scale?
5. Why did you leave that job?

Ask each of the above questions for every position the candidate has had which is related to the role you are interviewing. Then ask yourself: What patterns do you see in the candidate’s behavior?Consistency in a candidate’s work ethic and performance over the course of his/her career will be vital to the growth of an expansion stage firm.

Next week I’ll dive a bit deeper into Topgrading Interview tactics.. but if you’re especially curious, check out the book for yourself in the link above!

VP, Human Capital

<strong>Diana Martz</strong> is Vice President, Human Capital at<a href="">TA Associates</a>. She was previously the Director of Talent at OpenView.