When it comes to recruiting and hiring, most companies usually run the same process of creating a job description, reviewing resumes of possible candidates, interviewing, and in some cases, reaching out to references.

While this is the standard approach, it's not effective. Dr. Brad Smart, acknowledged as the world's foremost expert on hiring and author of the bestseller book Topgrading, says that only 25 percent of our hires are la Creme de la Creme or the A players, when hired in the traditional manner. But the other 75 percent? They become B and C players, those whose performance is just sufficient or poor. Each entry level hire who doesn't live up to expectations has a cost of about 1x that position's annual pay. However, at the executive level, the role's impactful decisions and strategies mean that hiring mistakes can cost 24x the position's annual salary. Another issue is the time wasted by fixing mistakes, and convincing your other A players not to leave, multiplied by the time that person was in the role.

I always recommend Topgrading by Brad Smart as a must-read book for the CEOs I coach. Since I started using his hiring method in my company, I've noted my hires to be much engaged and committed, delivering results and keeping a good ambiance among their peers. Based on my own experience and on many of my coaching clients, the Topgrading approach will improve your hiring success rate. They'll work as a compass to have the best fit for each position, with A Players, saving time and money.

Seven rules to follow during an interview, according to Topgrading. 

The first step is to identify good candidates. Take your time to point out the role's responsibilities and the Key Performance Indicators or KPIs needed to reach by defining a Job Scorecard. When done, look for A players that match the job's requirements. In other words, those who are rated as "excellent" or "very good" by former supervisors. Make sure you have an accurate background of your candidates about their past experiences.

A good tip is to start the conversation by asking the candidate about their experience from past to present. This is a chronological structured interview that will make a good memory exercise and reveal behavior patterns across many years.

Once you've found your candidates that are most likely to be A players, follow the seven key techniques during the interview process.

  1. Ask the right questions about past positions, by making sure to ask about accomplishments for each role. 

  2. Connect with the candidate on a human level. Be true to yourself and show your personality to get closer to your applicant, so they don't act robot-like, only focused on answering right.

  3. Keep control of the interview by maintaining a track of topics and schedule. Don't be afraid to interrupt to get them back on the information you need from them, and most importantly, don't hesitate to ask tough questions, like mistakes made or wrong decisions. Insist if you don't get a reply.

  4. Avoid tricky questions, or those that come with a prejudice, expecting accurate answers. Sometimes a simple answer will do, and we can accept that. Make your candidate feel in a safe and comfortable zone with you, where they can be open and honest giving away key details that will make you understand their behavior and decision-making process.

  5. Take detailed notes while you're at the interview. You think you'll remember, but the real thing is you most probably won't. These notes will help you towards your final choice and will tell you if the process still has its momentum, or if you're losing it.

  6. Ask follow-up questions to dig deeper and understand your candidate thoroughly.  When a candidate expresses they have the "area of improvement" of being a better communicator, ask more until you get to the detail. It could be from "improving their writing skills" to "omitting and getting in a conflict of interest". These are very different issues.

  7. Summarize every 15 minutes what your candidate says, by staying engaged and getting back to the topic. Every 15 minutes, restate the main points of your conversation and dig deeper. This way, you're showing the candidate you want to learn more from them. 

The Topgrading methodology doesn't end with the recruiting process. When you hire A players, you attract more A players. The structure of your company gets leaner, as you have A players who work more efficiently than many B and C players, so your employee costs go down while the company accelerates. And once you learn to hire well, you'll learn to keep track of progress and results, and you'll be able to promote well.