update: is this job application horribly invasive or is it just me?

Remember the letter-writer who applied for a job and was asked to fill out a lengthy form with ridiculously detailed information about every job he’d ever had? For each job, they wanted him to write out details about things like like “how my supervisor would grade my performance, why would they grade it that way, did I leave on my own, did they ask me to or was it 50/50, give more detail about my leaving, favorite parts of the job, and least favorite parts.” For every job. Ever. Here’s the update.

Shortly after the post went live, I was surprised to see an email from the CEO of the company in question. He said he was taken aback at my response as I was a promising candidate and wanted to know why I had such strong feelings about Topgrading. Since he was open enough for feedback, I sent him a softer version of the response I posted in the comments originally. I also included some thoughts my friends in HR had regarding their experience with the method and the candidates that make it through. He responded with an offer to schedule a short 15-minute interview without having to go through the whole Topgrading process. I was sincerely interested in the position, and chose an appropriate time.

The interview was … interesting. While he wasn’t outright rude, he was incredibly pushy and dismissive, starting our conversation by commenting about how I got his attention by “yelling” at him. He seemed far more interested in wanting to know about my contacts and their hiring methods (and proving them wrong) as opposed to if I would fit in his organization. When asked if I saw any problems with how the company was currently presenting itself, I mentioned some concerning pages against their product that had prominent placement and he waved off that he would throw money at it and it would go away. In general, it was an uncomfortable meeting, and while he said he’d be in contact, I never heard from him again.

I’m OK with it.

{ 119 comments… read them below }

  1. Prismatic Professional*

    How incredibly ridiculous. He set up an interview to (basically) yell at you? O_o Bullet dodged!

    1. OP*

      To be fair he seemed interested and after the “yelling” thing he talked about why my credentials caught his attention. But it devolved pretty quickly after that. He was extremely pushy about wanting to know industries my HR friends worked in, what industry said the candidates were disappointing, when I repeatedly tried to bring it back to the position at hand. Again, we only had 15 minutes, let’s not waste time.

      Horrific interview experience aside, it was enough to see that even if I were offered the job there would be immense, perhaps insurmountable, personality clashes. So it’s for the best. Annoying, but for the best.

      1. Amber T*

        I reread your original letter quickly and I don’t remember you mentioning it, but was this a start up or a relatively new company? Or was he new? I’m astounded that a functioning company can have these sort of hiring practices (unless they only use it for certain types of positions? Still dumb).

        1. OP*

          It was an established company that had been around for at least five years. He has another older company that has been around even longer. I really think it’s a fat fish who is revelling in his obscenely tiny pond.

        1. RVA Cat*

          Yet somehow the process lets someone become Secretary of Teapots when she has never actually brewed tea….

      2. Anonymoose*

        The throwing of money is…..very telling. And continuing to be defensive when receiving feedback – about something he specifically wanted feedback on – probably says a hell of a lot more about how they feel about their customers/clients too. ‘Eff the client, I know best!’ Gah.

        Glad you sideswiped that absolute disaster waiting to happen.

  2. Anonymous Poster*

    How odd! Ah well, so it goes. You know a lot more about the company now than before, for better and for worse.

    Good luck wherever you end up!

  3. Bonky*

    I remember OP’s original response in the earlier post about interviews being as much about the candidate assessing the business and the position as they are about the employer assessing the candidate. How…helpful of the guy to provide you with all the information you needed to make a clear judgment on those things!

    (Congratulations on your fortunate near miss, OP!)

    1. Anonymoose*

      “OP’s original response in the earlier post about interviews being as much about the candidate assessing the business and the position as they are about the employer assessing the candidate. How…helpful of the guy”

      I know, right?!

  4. Ashley*

    File this under disfunctional interview process, disfunctional company.

    Op, you’re replies are amazing! I think this company could have used you. Their loss.

    1. OP*

      Aww, thank you! The reply I actually sent was an extended version of the one posted here due to the softening language, and I’m even more proud of it.

      If you come across companies who are looking for someone who excels at back handed complimentary content let me know!

      1. Another Staff Accountant (Public Practice)*

        Your trials were not wasted, OP. Last week I received an e-mail response to an application (yay!) with an attached – you guessed it – Topgrading questionnaire, with the exact same “how would your supervisor grade you?” and “why did you leave?”, oh, and an exact salary rubric – because what I was making 10 years ago has total relevance to what I wish to be making now. I skimmed it, looked at the job description again, and took an additional 0.0056 seconds to decide to skip it. If I haven’t read your post before receiving the questionnaire, I would have been tempted to just do my best in filling it.

        1. OP*

          That honestly makes me so happy. I’ve been job searching for almost two years at this point. I’m fortunate enough to be fussy with the jobs I go for because my spouse is incredibly supportive, but not working is driving me up the wall. I’ve been desperate enough to flagellate myself to get interviews in the past, and it NEVER works out well.

          If I helped you and others avoid predatory hiring practices like this that debase what your time is worth, then I can go to bed happy with myself.

          1. Another Staff Accountant (Public Practice)*

            Oy, that is so frustrating (but a supportive spouse is worth their weight in chocolate).
            I have most definitely learned the most from the dud interviews, and these make for the best stories anyway, and reading your story and AAM at large for the last few years have taught me to be very, very careful who I allow myself to work for.

            Good luck, good speed, and not to sound pat-on-the-back Pollyanna, but the right employer, who is looking for someone with your sharp wit and keen observations, not to mention a sense of humour, is somewhere out there. Looking forward to a happy update.

        2. Senior Staff Accountant (Public Practice)*

          And really, if you’re in Public Practice, so much of your compensation is tied to your billing rate and chargable hours. I am one with the WIP and the WIP is with me.

          1. Another Staff Accountant (Public Practice)*

            It’s complicated… I’m a later-in-life convert to accounting and have received my CPA in my 40’s. This position wasn’t for a staff accountant but a support role in an office where the doctors/lawyers/architects do the actual billable work. Anyway, their hiring process was a complete turn-off.

  5. Amber Rose*

    And the giant red flag covered up… an equally giant bullet!

    As it usually does.

    Good job dodging it. ;)

  6. Not So NewReader*

    A 15 minute interview so you can skip the encumbered application process? No. He did not decide to interview you. He just wanted 15 minutes of your time to tell you how right he was.
    You can have any opinion as long as it’s his. Bullet dodged, OP.
    Wish we could name companies so we would know where not to bother….

    1. my two cents*

      yep, totally reads as a weird controlling and/or getting-the-last-word thing to me too.

      OP has to dress up, show up, and put on the interview charm just so dude can re-inflate his ego.

      1. OP*

        If it makes you feel any better it was a video call (with te most hellacious software ever) and I wasn’t especially charming. When he started being aggressive, I got kind of aggressive right back. I might have tanked it there (Even though he said he loved my no BS approach), but like I told Alison, I’m OK with it.

        1. Dee*

          People who say things like that (“I love your no BS approach”) usually end up meaning “I love your approach unless it inconveniences or challenges me in any way.”

        2. Aurion*

          Can we have examples of your polite aggressiveness? Please tell me you asked him “we only have fifteen minutes; are we talking about my fit for the position or are we talking about my contacts?” or something equally frank?

          I’m loving your aptitude with words here, OP.

          1. OP*

            Thank you! I’m normally bend over backward accommodating (In fact, color me flattered Alison pegged me as a guy because I’ve been told my writing style is overtly feminine. Nice to see my work has been paying off.), and I was much more direct here and didn’t care if I hurt his feelings.

            He insists on asking about my HR friends, I said something remarkably similar to what you mentioned, “As fantastic as my friends and colleagues are, I’d rather use the time we have to talk about [Company] and I to see if we’re a good fit for each other.”
            When I pointed out there were numerous websites who had negative things to say about the product in question and he said he didn’t care because he’d just pay to get better press, I replied “I’ve always called that kissing the boo-boo. Makes you feel better but doesn’t solve the problem, and this is a serious problem that needs addressing.”

            1. Antilles*

              That response to the websites is awesome. Also, 100% accurate. You know what happens when you buy off bad reviews?
              Your next wave of reviewers/customers/etc will also experience the same problems…except they’re even more ticked off because they read your (fake) positive reviews and came in with high expectations you can’t/won’t meet. So they leave even worse reviews than you started with because they’re made by people who aren’t just disappointed that the product didn’t live up to expectations, but also angry because they think your customer service stinks.

            2. Hlyssande*

              “I’ve always called that kissing the boo-boo. Makes you feel better but doesn’t solve the problem, and this is a serious problem that needs addressing.”

              Oh, snap!

            3. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Oh! Interesting. I was sure I knew you were a guy from your email name, but now I see that I am wrong.

              When I first started AAM, I did it anonymously, and when I attached a name to it, a bunch of people were shocked I was a woman because apparently it sounded masculine too (??).

              1. OP*

                Apologies, that’s my “You can’t have my real name” account. Not that my regular account would be much better. The nickname I use in day to day conversation, people often think I’m a guy, as well as an entirely different ethnicity.

            4. Esme Squalor*

              I’m late to this thread, but I wanted to chime in and tell you that you’re my hero. I wish I could come up with snappy but professional responses like yours in seconds during high-pressure conversations.

  7. tarutafe*

    Please come in for an interview where I will explain that my Kool-Aid is the most delicious flavor. No other comes close. Stop talking now because I’m thinking about drinking my tasty and refreshing Kool-Aid.

  8. Whats In A Name*

    Well, now you have a really really good story and have no “what if” hangover. That 15 minutes was probably well spent, as opposed to giving into that process, getting hired and thenrealizing you weren’t a match for the culture.

  9. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    You may want to send your HR friends a heads-up about this guy, since I’m guessing he wants to call them up and mansplain to them how they’re doing it wrong.

    And of course, if he spent as much time doing his actual job instead of being a pushy egotist, well, then his products wouldn’t have quite so many bad reviews, now would they? #logic

    1. OP*

      I refused to give their company names out, even though he asked repeatedly. I stuck with industries like bio-science and Fortune 100. I doubt he’ll be able to find anything based on that.

      As for the bad reviews, apparently you just pay HuffPo to write a glowing review of your product and all that bad stuff goes away. /s

      1. Tangerina Warbleworth*

        Oh, I figured you have way too much integrity to give names, but what’s the betting he’s going to call every HR of every Fortune 100 and be all, “Well, OBVIOUSLY you don’t KNOW about this METHOD” which he doesn’t even use correctly. You know, networking.

      2. Cassandra*

        And/or hire a sketchy SEO firm, which worked out so very, very well for the ex-chancellor of the University of California at Davis.

  10. The OG Anonsie*

    Wow, the CEO of a company with terrible invasive hiring practices and crappy communication wanted a chance to argue with you about why everyone is wrong about everything? Color me shocked.

  11. BritCred*

    Sounds like an ex boss of mine. He at one meeting with a client way overstated our manpower in a certain department and did everything to follow it up by roping others in for a department photo after an award… All well and great for getting business but it seemed he had no intention to hire enough people to meet the demand he claimed we had “free” capacity for. I’d left before I got a chance to see how that worked out…

      1. eplawyer*

        actually I have a few clients I need to explain this concept to. About their exes mostly, but some of them get so busy defending themselves from their exes allegations they lose sight of the goal.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I took a leadership seminar a few years ago and one of the things that really stuck with me was the question “would you rather be right or effective?” I ask myself that question (or a close variation of it) almost every day. As someone who loves to be right, I can lose sight of the bigger picture if I’m not consciously looking out for it.

  12. Edith*

    He said he’d be in contact, I never heard from him again. I’m okay with it.

    This reminds me of the Dowager Countess’s response when Carlisle said they’d probably never see each other again: “Do you promise?”

  13. Folklorist*

    Man, I wish that I had seen your (OP’s) response in the comments on that! It was funny because, when this letter first came out, I was in the process of a similarly stupid hiring process for a freelance gig.

    No joke, for the possibility of one day in the future getting a freelance job with them (an umbrella contract for future employment), they had me fill out forms with every single job (including small, one-hour freelance contract jobs, of which I do a lot) that I’ve had for the past three years, my supervisors name and contact information (addresses, phone numbers, and email), the number of hours and days I worked at each job and the dates, and how much I made. For each job, if I got a COL raise or was promoted, I had to fill out a separate job section for it. Or, even if I was there for more than one year, I had to fill it out again for the separate years I was there. And they verified ALL OF THEM. It took hours and hours of my time.

    Unsurprisingly, when I finally got a freelance gig with them, they were overly demanding, unreasonable, and rigid, and kept moving goalposts on me. I should have known from their hiring process that they were going to be terrible to work with!

    If I had seen your comment on Topsiding, I probably would have done more research, replied something similar as you did, and saved myself a LOT of pain (although, your company’s process sounds even more painful and invasive than mine was!) Good on you for the escape–these companies DON’T get better once you’re in!

    1. Aunt Margie at Work*

      Aw dude! So I read the past post, the update and all the comments. When I got to yours I selected, rightclicked and let google take me to a defintion of Topsiding. UM, thanks urban dictionary for THAT image. Topsiding and Topgrading are two different things, although they both deal with crap.

      1. Folklorist*

        Oh no!!!! Hahahaha, I’m sorry! Now tempted to Google ‘topsiding,’ but will wait until I’m not on my company computer….

  14. hbc*

    I think my favorite part of this is that he’s adamant that the process is really good, so…he’s letting you bypass it to have an interview.

    I wonder if someone sold him on this process to keep him out of the loop on hiring. “Here, boss, here’s everything you could possibly want to know about the candidates. Please don’t talk to them–we’d like to maintain the fiction that we have a reasonable CEO until after they’ve committed.” I mean, it’s an off-putting process, but it sounds like I’d rather dig up my babysitting pay rate from 1992 than talk to that dude for ten minutes.

    1. zora*

      And that the OP’s original email was “Yelling” at him. The original email simply said (paraphrased), “Thank you, but no thank you. I wish you the best.” yeah… who is the one yelling again?

      1. Lucky Lady*

        I think that the trick here is that she’s a woman asserting herself and he’s a man who is obviously not used to being questioned. I HATE to say it, but frequently this is a problem for men who go unchecked in life. A woman, even reasonably, asserting herself is seen as hostile or yelling.
        I thank God that I’m not in that position. By pure luck I ended up with a male boss that both wanted to mentor me and supports me in my supervisory position (even though I am not always right). I have a friend in the copy writing business who gets shot down every time she suggests an alternative. She’s seen as “unapproachable.” I’m pretty sure it’s because she doesn’t automatically fall in line if the idea isn’t great.

  15. MuseumChick*

    So, I had never heard of “Topgrading” before this post. I did some quick googling but still don’t fully get it. Seems like it’s just an overly complicated hiring process?

    1. slackr*

      You can look it up on Wikipedia, but it’s obvious that the entry was written by at least a proponent, if not an actual stakeholder. Nothing about how the method assumes the worst of applicants. They actually use the term “THREAT of Reference Checks”. Nothing about how the whole process is incredibly time consuming and wasteful of the applicants’ time and energy. The method also requires numerous lengthy interviews. Count me out of any hiring process that requires all this one-way effort.

    2. H.C.*

      According to TopGraders – the payoff for this complex review process is getting and retaining high-performing workers, though I’ve never really seen data that supported that claim.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I would imagine that you would get workers who were unusually diligent and determined, but that would not necessarily mean especially high-performing, although it does not preclude it.

    3. Nic*

      I did the exact same thing and read the wiki page. Ugh no. 12 step hiring process? Four hour interview? No thanks. Additionally, it made it sound like they think every prospective employee is a pants-on-fire liar. I think it’s appropriate to give folks at least a modicum of benefit of the doubt here.

      The closest thing to data they had on it was at the very end of the article: A doctoral thesis at Georgia State University examined six different companies who employed topgrading. Between the six companies, a total of around 1,000 new hires were made during the study. Results of the study showed that the average pre-topgrading “mis-hire” rate was 69.3%. After the implementation of topgrading, however, the average mis-hire rate dropped to 10.5%.

      1. Annonymouse*

        Presumably because they stopped hiring people because:
        1) The best candidates don’t need to put up with this
        2) because of how long the process is it means you aren’t getting people in as fast
        3) also the “sunk cost” fallacy. People doubling down on losers because they’ve invested so much that they keep investing just to get back the original amount.

  16. MindoverMoneyChick*

    Ah…TopGrading. I applied to a company that used this system once. I was very qualified but didn’t really have time to fill out all there stuff. So I just didn’t. They interviewed me anyway, in that annoying Topgrading way that I think most the interviewers hated using It made for very stilted interviews. But I did make it to the owner who also talked about how he just loved this process. Yep, it must be a Kool-Aid thing.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, the OP doesn’t mean that the guy saw the post here! I think the OP sent him a note declining to participate, if I remember the comments from the original post correctly.

      1. Solidus Pilcrow*

        I just re-read the comments on the original post.
        The OP originally replied with a short message opting out of the process.
        She also had a longer reply ready that pretty much blasted the entire process while being perfectly professional at the same time.

        From a comment above, it sounds like the OP sent a “softer” version of the longer reply.

        Links to follow.

    2. OP*

      I doubt it, the timing was merely coincidental. I had responded to his email with a short “Thanks but no thanks because Topgrading” before Alison posted the question. The timing just happened to work out that he got back to me a few days after the post went up.

  17. Mallory*

    OP, in the comments on your original letter, Alison pointed out that this company wasn’t even using the Topgrading process, where the extreme vetting comes closer to the end of the process, but a bastardized version, where it was the first step. Did that come up in your talk with the CEO?

    1. OP*

      We didn’t spend much time in the interview rehashing it, I did a pretty thorough job in my reply to him. I saw no reason to focus on his ineptitude at using a horrible system.

      For the record, here’s what I sent:

      “Thank you for reaching out. It says quite a bit about your dedication to your company and openness to improve, and I really respect that.

      In all honesty, while I would have no problems connecting you with references from the president and founder of my present company, both of which would be glowing, I find the process Topgrading espouses incredibly invasive and unfair to the person applying. As an A-player/Top Performer, I have the freedom to pursue positions I’m interested in, meaning my interviewing a potential workplace as much as they’re interviewing me.

      It would take a huge investment on my part to dedicate time looking up every job I’ve had for the past 15 years (some of these companies have shut down, or merged), attempting to figure out who my managers were, and their present contact information, going that far back into my records for my beginning and ending salary, among other things. Not to mention this is all work done before I’ve even had the courtesy of a phone interview, and as a result, comes off as incredibly one-sided and disrespectful of my time.

      In addition, I found Topgrading encourages an interview program that can take up to 4-5 hours, time spent rehashing jobs from a different era of my life and completely different industries, that have absolutely no bearing on the work I do now, or if the position you currently have open is a good fit for me. From the get go, this starts us off on an unbalanced relationship. The TORC, a cornerstone of Topgrading, is literally based on the assumption that the majority of applicants will be lying. The concept as a whole is set up to try and catch them in a lie, hoping the exhaustive process will trip up any applicant who’s exaggerating their skillset.

      The Topgrading method appears to be steeped in mistrust, and a company that promotes those methods is not a company I feel would be a good fit for me.

      I’ll be honest, it’s been a bit since I had to go through the application process, so I reached out to multiple friends in HR to ask their opinions. The general consensus was an outdated methodology based on an unsustainable premise, and most reasonable high performers wouldn’t bother jumping through the hoops. One confided to me at one time she worked at a company that used Topgrading and found not only did it actively turn off skilled high-producing employees, it seemed to only attract those desperate enough to go through all the steps in the hopes of maybe getting a job.

      I truly appreciate your response, and sincerely hope I was able to explain my thought process to you.”

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I work in tech, and the typical interview process at large tech companies is a 4-6 hour “interview loop” where you are interviewed for 45 minutes to an hour by 4-6 different people in succession (if you’re lucky one of them takes you for lunch).

        It’s hands-down one of the most exhausting things I’ve ever done in my life, and by the end I can’t really come up with a coherent sentence, true or no. I feel like the super-long interview will “trip up” a lot of perfectly honest applicants just because their brain has turned to mush at that point — you’re basically too tired to successfully pronounce your own name.

        The last one of those I did, in the last interview I messed up the same sentence so many times I just stopped, apologized, and noted to my interviewer that he was last. He completely understood what I was saying, fortunately.

  18. Dave*

    If Topgading is what I think it is… Ugh. My former employer was going to implement it, and all managers were put through training on how to do it correctly. My (awesome) manager was telling me and some others on my team about it, and I told him “I wouldn’t have bothered to go through all that for a job here” and I meant it. It involved arranging meetings for the would-be hiring manager and all of your former managers. It did sound incredibly invasive and combative as well. The worst part for me was that a lot of the managers where I worked had totally quaffed that Kool-Aid and thought it was a great system for ensuring you only hire top candidates. I wonder how many top candidates, like OP, would have just noped on out of there.

      1. Hey Nonnie*

        And that’s assuming anyone could remember every company and manager they worked for, ever. The name of the bulk mailing company I worked at for a one-weekend temp gig? My supervisor for my summer job before college? I’ve probably had JOBS that I’ve completely forgotten. I’m pretty sure I had at least two (or more?) different work-study jobs in college, but I don’t remember what they were, or who I reported to. And it’s unlikely those people are still at the college now — I’d need to hire a PI to find their current contact info.

        These jobs aren’t on my resume because no one cares if I was a summer lifeguard at the community pool in a tiny rural town you’ve never heard of 20 years ago. I don’t work in a medical field now, so lifeguarding isn’t particularly germane to… anything in my life anymore.

        I’m sort of amused thinking of this pool getting a phone call and they’re going: “Who? From when? No, no one from that time still works here. I don’t think our records even go back that far…”

        1. Franzia Spritzer*

          Seriously, I’ve been in the workforce for 30 years, more if we count the family business. So many of the places I’ve worked blossomed and died on the vine before the internet, with job titles and addresses that don’t exist anymore, and managers who have passed away by now. The few big companies I’ve worked for, if they didn’t collapse in when the tech bubble burst, didn’t make it through the recession. Exactly two organizations I’ve worked with still exist.

      2. Dave*

        I don’t know if these were supposed to be carried out. Having read a bit more about it now, I think it’s an idle threat: if the candidate seems reticent to arrange contact, it’s supposedly a bad sign (though to me it is a sign that the candidate is a sane person).

  19. Feathers McGraw*

    So they say hiring managers are only satisfied with 25% of their hires but they don’t say how many they asked. Their FAQ does say their stats on the method’s success are based on 40 case studies. They refer to research that puts worldwide mis-hires at 80% but don’t give details or citations for this research.

    Side. Eye.

    1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      I wonder if they are asking the unreasonable HR managers that have been the topic of various WTF posts on AAM. The ones that think it’s okay to have a pool of candidates plan an event for the other candidates. Or do unpaid freelance work for a few days.

      Of course they are unsatisfied with the person they hire. They live in another universe of what’s reasonable.

  20. Milton Waddams*

    You actually scored a gumption interview with the CEO? That’s actually pretty entertaining, although I suppose also an example of “be careful what you wish for”. :-)

  21. (Another) B*

    I didn’t know what Topgrading was – just checked it out and holy crap. What a colossal waste of time!!! It benefits literally no one.

    1. (Another) B*

      “Topgrading methodology assumes that the standard interview process can be and is often plagued by dishonesty from job candidates. ” Wow.

      1. Milton Waddams*

        I have encountered companies where that is their new normal. Usually it is due to allowing untrained HR to play the blame game for their personal career benefit. (Too many candidates and worried that someone will blame you if an unqualified one slips through? Let’s add required skills that aren’t necessary for the job until the applicant pool shrinks to a manageable level, even though those skills will never be used!)

        Since those who actually meet the requirements under such a hiring system will be grossly underemployed, what happens more often than not is that it creates an incentive for liars, provided that they have the actual skills needed to do the job, and introduces a culture of lying to get ahead into the business.

        I imagine they are pushing their methodology as a way of navigating this problem once it has already been invited into the business; desperate companies will often buy anything that seems like a magic bullet solution, sadly.

  22. eplawyer*

    All I can hear after reading this update is the Church Lady saying “is that special” about this guy and his “methods.”

  23. Hey Nonnie*

    I’d sort of love to see this guy’s reaction to a form filled out entirely with “I don’t remember”s up to the point where you’re directly repeating the information from your resume.

    Company: Some bulk mailing warehouse
    Manager: ???
    Start date: sometime in high school
    End date: two days later
    Starting pay: who knows?
    Ending pay: I was there for a two-day temp gig, what do you think?
    How would your manager grade you: I’m not sure the manager even met me.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      I once had a 1-week temp gig where the manager was out every day except one. Someone from her team just told me what to do. (It was filing, it was not hard.) I don’t know the manager’s name at all and I only remember the first name of the person who “supervised” me. I doubt they remember me at all!

  24. Dr. Hapgood*

    I guess I’m lucky to have never heard of (so-called) topgrading before reading about it here.

    It seems to reflect the mentality that so many executives have today, that their hiring process is not about finding the best fit but about securing the Fortress from barbarian hordes. They’re looking for the very few willing to swim the moat, get bitten by alligators, and are otherwise sufficiently obedient (or desperate?) to jump through every hoop and over every hurdle. The sort who, when the interviewer throws broken glass on the floor and orders the applicant to get down on his belly and crawl over it, eagerly yells out “Sir! Yes Sir!” before dropping to the floor. And after that, unless the candidate exactly matches the lengthy list of requirements, they will never hear from the employer again.

    But then, (so-called) topgrading goes back to the 1990s, well before the Taleo Revolution outsourced, automated, and improved the moats, alligators, and broken glass. That might be why I hadn’t heard of (so-called) topgrading, as Taleo is clearly much cheaper (if not more effective at finding applicants who exactly match the lengthy lists of disparate requirements for the two, three, or more jobs they’re trying to consolidate into one, at below-market pay).

    How many people actually keep sufficient records of their entire employment history to provide truthful (never mind useful) answers to the questions? Or, for that matter, keep up contact with former supervisors? In my case, every one of my former supervisors whose whereabouts I’m aware of has retired, and is probably less than eager to participate in whatever interrogation is mandated by (so-called) topgrading. The others I have no idea about, other than that I lost track of them when they changed jobs or were laid off. Even if I had detailed records, they would do no good. Or does (so-called) topgrading include the belief that an essential attribute of “A players” is the ability to track down supervisors from long ago and persuade them to be interrogated?

    (So-called) topgrading sounds like something invented by a product manager at the Bandini Company. It’s one more reason the hiring practices in this country are completely broken, and serve neither job-seekers nor employers.

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