Topgrading Process: How to Hire A Players at Your Agency

By June 27, 2019
illustration of people jumping for joy

By Amber Bollinger, VP People Operations at Remarkable Health

Hiring can be a bit like a game of roulette – you hope for the best but sometimes you don’t win. At Remarkable Health, we have greatly increased our odds of winning by adopting a proven and consistent process to insure we are only hiring A player talent. Established in, 1997 by Bradford Smart, Topgrading was created as an evaluative method to identify the best candidate for a job. In the Behavioral Health industry where engagement and retention are common challenges, the importance of hiring the best fit for a position intensifies. At Remarkable Health, we have found a process that has brought success to growing our team.

How it Works


Defining the Need:

Topgrading starts with defining the need and the role by creating a scorecard for the position. The scorecard differs from a typical job description in that it is focused on success outcomes of the position and competencies required for one to be effective in the role. By having this clear definition up front, both Hiring Manager and Recruiter are on the same page regarding who they are looking for in a candidate and what is being evaluated to obtain the best fit.

The scorecard is then used to create an outward facing job posting that highlights the expectations and competencies required for the position. Essentially, the posting is an advertisement and needs to be positioned in a way that will attract the right type of talent.


As candidates come in, either by actively applying through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or through the proactive sourcing efforts of the recruiter, their resumes are screened for specific trends and experiences. There are several factors that will eliminate a candidate from our process when screening, guided by Topgrading methodology. To prevent giving applicants the opportunity to manipulate our system, the details of what is being looked for are omitted from this blog. However, if your agency is interested in further details or training on the Topgrading process, please email VP of People, Amber Bollinger at


Those that meet the initial requirements are scheduled for a 30 minute phone screen interview with a recruiter whose goal is to determine if the candidate would likely pass the Topgrading process and be a culture fit. If upon initial assessment the recruiter feels that both are a yes, the candidate is referred to the Hiring Manager for review and to schedule an in person interview.

During the interview with the Hiring Manager, the goal is to assess specific job knowledge and experience to determine if they have the skills and abilities to perform the job. Any gaps in knowledge, skills or ability are noted and utilized to compare candidates. A candidate that has a track record of being a relentless learner, resourceful, and a quick study, will not necessarily be removed from the process if they don’t already possess the job experience needed.

Topgrading Interview:

The final candidate(s) are referred to the in depth Topgrading interview. This is an interview that is preferably done over the phone to allow the interviewer to take detailed notes, and includes a recruiter certified in Topgrading, and the Hiring Manager. This interview is a sequential interview that digs deeper into how and why the candidate has made decisions throughout their upbringing, education and career. There are many elements being looked at during this interview, which aren’t detailed here in order to maintain the integrity of the process. This interview is typically 2-3 hours in length depending on the candidate’s work history. At the conclusion of this interview the Recruiter and Hiring Manager will evaluate the candidate against the initial position scorecard created, the competencies identified, and a Topgrading Assessment to determine if the candidate grades out as an A Player, a Potential A Player, a B Player, or a C Player. The specifics on what is being looked for during screening, the Topgrading interview, how grade levels are measured, and more – are incorporated into our Topgrading Hiring Training available to all CT1 users.

Team Interview:

For candidates that pass the Topgrading interview, the next step is a team interview. This is time scheduled for the candidate to meet with key team members, peers and direct reports. The goal of this interview is to evaluate if the team dynamic with the candidate will be a positive one, and to flush out any lingering concerns. Feedback is obtained from those that participate in the team interview and if no additional concerns are identified, an offer is presented to the candidate.

After Hire:

The Topgrading process is utilized throughout the employee’s career. A quarterly Topgrading assessment is done to determine if each employee is still presenting as an A Player. If there is any change in performance, a plan is developed to get the individual back up to A Player status. It is a continual process to not only bring in A Player talent, but also maintain that talent. Topgrading is not a one and done process.

Topgrading Hiring Training

Topgrading is a very time intensive process, and may not be the right process for every agency. For us, we’ve found what works and have created a culture where Topgrading and associated terminology is known, understood and applied. We encourage you to find a hiring process that works for your agency, create buy-in and support from team members on that process, apply it consistently, and evaluate it regularly. If you are interested in learning more about Topgrading, or scheduling Topgrading Hiring Training for your team, please contact Amber Bollinger, VP People Operations at

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About Remarkable Health

For over 25 years, Remarkable Health has pioneered innovation through technology for behavioral health and DD providers. Our integrated suite of outcomes management, EHR and mobile technology arms providers with the tools they need to improve client outcomes by spending less time on documentation and inefficient workarounds and more time delivering value-based care and engagement. To learn more about the CT|One EHR and CT|One Mobile app, or to learn more about ongoing training opportunities for your agency’s team, please contact us at (480) 550-8077 or visit our website at