Top Recruiting Tips: “Top Grading” Summary for Entrepreneurs, Educators, and Recruits

May 14, 2013 at 12:30 pm 4 comments

Top Grading by Bradford Smart

Top Grading by Bradford Smart

Now is final call for recruiting time: Internships, jobs, and maybe you want to start your own business. The well-known book Top Grading is a favorite in elite entrepreneur and corporate circles; namely because it’s a standard reference for recruiting on how to recruit A Players.

A Players definition: One who qualifies among the top 10 percent of those available for a position and is willing to accept a job offer in your sector, organization, and location.

Top Grading is a recruiting philosophy that looks for individuals with certain traits, and ends in an extensive interview process. In this post, we’ll give you a mini version of a Top Grading interview that can be used in a variety of environments:

  • Use our mini Top Grading interview at school or home as a fun way to explore traits for success.
  • Use the summaries below as inspiration to learn more, and employ Top Grading in your business.
  • Are you being Top Graded? Find out below and prep for your interview.

First, let’s learn some basics…

Why Top Grade?

The thought is: “Top Grade first–once you do this, your organization can do anything.” This is a huge belief in the power of people. Finding them can be tricky – hence: Top Grading!

What is the “New Career Management” Way of Thinking?

Are you trapped in the old way of thinking? Better keep up. The gurus at Top Grading point out the new ways of the work place these days. Crawling up hill in the snow both ways is out, working smart is in, as indicated by the table below.

Traditional Career Management

New Career Management

Work Harder

Work Smarter and achieve life / work balance in career success, wellness, family and other relationship, pleasure (recreation, Hobbies), spiritual grounding, financial independence, giving something back and being creative

Goal: career success

Goal: happiness

Live slightly above your means

Live below your means (develop a financial nest egg to provide you freedom to choose what you do for a job)

Someone else manages my career (getting on a bus with someone else driving it)

You manage your own career (driving an all terrain vehicle

Accept job opportunities that look good

Look for “job fit” where your talents and the organization will allow you to be an A player; bigger isn’t always better

Develop your strengths (don’t focus on your weaknesses)

Continually develop; have an Individual Development Plan; overcome your weak points (more than just maximizing your strengths)

Hide negatives

Reveal weak points / negatives

12 Essential Competencies Needed to Become an A Player

(and common failings of B/C players). The list below identifies the essential competencies and behaviors that would indicate that someone isn’t skilled in the competencies.

  • Resourcefulness – “too passive,” “doesn’t create opportunities,””always trying to delegate upward”
  • Selecting A players and redeploying B/C players – “mis-hires too many,” has a team of B and C players,” “afraid to hire someone better than He/she is,” “just won’t topgrade”
  • Passion – “not highly motivated,” “lacks drive,” “goes through the motions”
  • Integrity – “lies,” “can’t be trusted to keep promises,” “breaks confidences,” “gossips,” “pushes legal boundaries too far”
  • Ambition – “too ambitious,” “always trying to get the promotion rather than serve the company”
  • Political Savvy – “ a dirty Politian,” “backstabber”
  • Adaptability – “over her head,” “ can’t adjust to our reorganization,” “job is too complex for him/her”
  • Team builder – “can’t empower anyone,” “control freak,” “old fashioned autocrat”
  • Team player – “builds silos,” “thinks his/her department is the only one,” “won’t coordinate across departments, causing major production waste,” “not a team player”
  • Track Record – “missed his/her numbers again,” “sandbagger,” “more excuses than reasons”
  • Intelligence – “lacks the brainpower to adapt,” “slow learner,” “just doesn’t get it”
  • Likability – “arrogant,” “condescending,” “egotistical,” “doesn’t treat people with respect,” “demeaning,” “sarcastic,” etc.

You will see that many of the traits above are geared toward leadership, and that is what A players demonstrate: The ability to move up.

Mini Practice Interview

interview Let’s do a mini interview using questions from this guide at Strategic Directions Conference

Q 1: Who were the most influential people and experiences that might have affected your personality and values?

Q2: (On a specific job, school activity/role, or task at home) What results were achieved in terms of successes and accomplishments? How were they achieved?

Q3: (On a specific job, school activity/role, or task at home) We all make mistakes, what would you say were mistakes or failures experienced in this job? If you could wind the clock back, what would you do differently?

More from EITC (Entrepreneur in the Classroom)

More: See the free EITC Curriculum, Module 1 for our exercise on entrepreneurial traits to delve deeper into this topic.

More Information
The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization promoting the importance of small business and free enterprise to the nation’s youth. More information is available at The Foundation is associated with the National Federation of Independent Business; NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals.

Entrepreneur In The Classroom. The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation Entrepreneur-in-the-Classroom (EITC) supplemental curriculum exposes students to entrepreneurship and the necessary steps to take an idea and turn it into a business. The free curriculum can be integrated into classes teaching a variety of subjects including music, art, fashion, business and many more. Just register for full access to the Entrepreneur-in-the-Classroom curriculum.

Related links
Follow NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation on Twitter
Like NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation on Facebook
Follow EITC curriculum author Kathy Korman Frey on Twitter


Entry filed under: Bookclub, Business exercises, Curriculum, Educators, Entrepreneur, Free, Intern, Organization, Parent, Resources, Teachers, Young Entrepreneur. Tags: , , , , .

Entrepreneurial Field Trip–Teaching Entrepreneurship both In and Outside the Classroom! Five Examples of Young Entrepreneurs to Inspire

4 Comments Add your own

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