Artwork by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

The tenets of Scaling Up your business are People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash. If you think about it, the People aspect directly drives both Strategy and Execution, which in turn produces industry-leading Cash flow. To drive exceptional people requires exceptional people—A Players. At our Certified Scaling Up practice, A Player Advantage LLC, we help our clients implement Topgrading, the most accurate interviewing methodology available, for all of their new hires to validate that clients are indeed hiring A Player candidates at an exceptionally high rate.

Over the last decade of implementing Topgrading, we have observed some truly remarkable results:

  • Over 90% of our candidates turn out to be A Players (100% are Topgraded).
  • 98% of the time, candidates of all seniority levels are willing to invest 1.5 to 3 hours to complete and return the Topgrading Career History Form Interview Guide and then participate in a 2–4 hour Topgrading panel interview with the entire leadership team.
  • Our Topgrading candidates accept their job offers at an exceptionally high rate of over 92%.
  • Less than 5% of our candidates negotiate or counter their offers.
  • Furthermore, we have found that Topgraded candidates also onboard quicker and produce results faster than non-Topgraded candidates.

These are impressive hiring results to be sure! Keep in mind that Topgrading is Real Intelligence (RI), not Artificial Intelligence (AI). Its basic premise is that the best predictor of future job success are quantifiable results in prior roles. Candidates who participate in Topgrading are by nature more de facto invested in the company because of the time and effort necessitated by the process.

This is a good thing, and there is concrete evidence from the field of cognitive psychology that supports why Topgrading locks in the candidates that you want.

Self-Disclosure: People Like to Talk About Themselves

In The Power of Regret by Daniel Pink, Pink shares the 2012 research study by psychologists Diana Tamir of Princeton University and Jason Mitchell of Harvard University that gave their participants three choices:

  1. To reveal their beliefs about themselves
  2. To judge the beliefs of other people
  3. To answer a trivia question

Researchers found that, overwhelmingly, participants preferred discussing themselves, with the majority choosing this option. What’s intriguing is that participants exhibited such a strong inclination to talk about themselves that they were willing to accept significantly lower compensation compared to those who chose one of the other two options.

Pink concludes, “An extensive body of literature makes it clear that disclosing our thoughts, feelings, and actions—whether by telling others or simply writing about them—brings forth a range of physical, emotional, and professional benefits.”

One of these benefits is the decisive acceptance of job offers by our clients’ candidates.

While we don’t advocate leveraging this finding to justify offering lower salaries, we do observe a correlation. During a 2–4 hour Topgrading interview, in which candidates discuss their careers extensively, we see exceptionally high job-offer acceptance rates. Additionally, very few of our clients’ candidates counter or negotiate their offers. It appears that candidates are effectively talking themselves into the job!

They Live Up to What They Write Down

In Robert Cialdini’s book Influence, the author dedicates chapter 7 to the powerful principles of commitment and consistency. As the leading expert on the subtle arts of influence and persuasion, Cialdini shares how psychologists have long recognized how most people desire to be and look consistent with their words, beliefs, attitudes, and deeds. As such, people’s psychological need to be consistent with their past actions and statements can be subtly leveraged. In the chapter, he explores how pre-committing individuals, even through seemingly insignificant requests, can activate this consistency drive and make them more likely to meet the commitments they outlined earlier.

In Topgrading interviews, candidates across various levels of seniority and compensation invest 1–3 hours in completing the Topgrading Career History Form (CHF) as a prerequisite for the on-site interview. Nearly 98% of committed candidates return the CHF, with the remaining 2% typically identified as C Players, aligning with our intention to screen them out efficiently.

As a gesture of reciprocity for sharing this valuable information, we allow candidates to export their input. This opportunity is appreciated, as it provides them with a detailed analysis of their career accomplishments, a perspective not covered in their resume or elsewhere.

The real intrigue unfolds during the Topgrading panel interview in front of the entire leadership team or department. For A Players, this experience is akin to watching a highlight reel of their entire career. The excitement in their eyes is palpable as they recount, in specific detail, their victories, results, growth, and even their mistakes. It’s effortless for them to recall these accomplishments because the data is factual, and telling the truth is easy when it’s the reality!

Inevitably, A Players enjoy the interview and tell us how great it feels to recount their career accomplishments and talk about themselves. Contrast that with the B Player, who breaks a sweat because they are stretching and winging it the entire interview, or the C Player, where we have to break out the “safe word” because they are so out of their league!

At the conclusion of the Topgrading interview, the process is to ask the candidate to restate why they want the job and how it compares to other offers they are looking at. Keep in mind they have already written this down in advance in the Topgrading CHF. Consistent with Cialdini’s finding, “the tactic was masterful because it didn’t simply commit customers [candidates] to their choice; it also committed them to the reasons for their choice,” our Topgrading candidates accept their job offers at an exceptionally high rate of over 92% and less than 5% of our candidates negotiate or counter their offers.

Here is a section from page 307 of the hardback edition of Influence that is working in reverse for candidates in Topgrading interviews:

“But before we start, I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. I’m curious, what was it about my background that attracted you to my candidacy? As a consequence, his evaluators heard themselves saying positive things about him and his qualifications, committing themselves to reasons to hire him before he had to make the case himself. He swears he has gotten three better jobs in a row by employing this technique.”

Remember, the candidate makes the commitment to invest 1–3 hours completing the Topgrading CHF, from their own fingertips, in advance of the interview. As Cialdini continues on page 320: “…that personal commitment alone proved to be a ‘very important psychological aid in preventing customers from backing out of their contracts.’ Like the Amway corporation, these organizations found that something special happens when people put their commitments on paper: They live up to what they write down.”

The evidence behind the cognitive psychology supporting why Topgrading works is clear. If you want to lock in a talented A Player who will commit to your organization, then our advice is to start implementing the rigor that Topgrading offers. Like most great things in life and business, the answer is counterintuitive. In this case, if you want great employees you don’t need to manage, then make it tough to get the job. People value what they work hard for and will commit to their choice—especially when that choice is themselves!

If you are ready to learn how to put the power of Topgrading in your organization to hire more A Players, then schedule a conversation with our team today. We are happy to show you how to immediately improve your hiring results.

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