"I was approached by Lucy Burrows, who was hands down the most genuine recruiter I've been contacted by while I've been looking for my next role. She didn't sound like she was speaking from a script, she listened and responded thoughtfully and asked my opinions throughout the process. Great work Lucy!"
M, Dryborough, Candidate
In this section
How to Prepare for a Topgrading Interview
A Complete Guide to Topgrading Interviewing
Initially, you could familiarise yourself with the Interview Methodology by reading 'Topgrading' by Brad Smart, the book that outlines the process, and review the Topgrading website for more information. It is difficult to prepare to provide effective answers without an understanding of why your prospective employer is using this method.
Having gained this understanding, you can prepare and practice describing your career accomplishments, experiences, and successes. Be prepared to tell stories illustrating how you have added value to previous organisations. Be sure to support this with impactful numbers such as growth percentage, achievement against target, value of new accounts won etc.
The decision makers are looking for evidence, so for a Topgrading interview, like a competency-interview it is worth spending time thinking of examples of when you have demonstrated the required traits detailed in the job specification.
There is little worse than a candidate who has no inciteful questions to ask. It demonstrates a lack of research and interest. This alone will usually terminate your chance of securing the role. Therefore, it is vital to prepare questions demonstrating your knowledge of the company and interest in the role you are applying for. They also allow you to demonstrate your commercial awareness and build rapport with the interviewer.
Additionally, it is vital to research the company's core values and competitive advantages and think about how your skills and experiences can help the company succeed. Without an understanding of these values, it is not possible to know whether there is a mutual fit.
To reinforce this understanding and identify the professional competencies required for the position, study the job description closely and research the company, its culture, and its competitors.
Having done this, you should have enough information to anticipate the types of questions that are likely to be asked. Practice answering these questions and hone them to ensure your answers are communicated in a concise, relevant and compelling way.
No candidate is an island, and your cultural alignment with the company, particularly its people, will be critical to your success. An excellent way to demonstrate your interpersonal and leadership skills is to consider examples of how you have previously worked with teams to achieve success. Be sure to frame your examples with a concise explanation of the situation, actions you took and positive outcomes you achieved. Demonstrate the aligned relevance of this to your prospective employer wherever possible to avoid a "so what" response.
Place yourself in the shoes of the employer, it's natural that they will have the perspective of "what’s in it for me” so be prepared to provide tangible results you have achieved throughout your career that demonstrate your value as an employee. Numbers are powerful, so have accurate examples of where you have beaten targets, achieved cost saving or won high value accounts that you can substantiate.
As a final weapon in your armoury, it can be compelling to produce testimonials and references that attest to your work ethic, accomplishments, and successes. However, it is preferable to keep these in reserve as a final coup de grace, rather than imposing them upon the interviewer at an inappropriate stage of the process.
- Can you provide examples of successful initiatives that you have taken on in past roles?
- What challenges have you faced in your professional career, and how did you overcome them?
- Tell me about a situation in which you had to make a difficult decision.
- How do you handle difficult conversations with colleagues or clients?
- Describe a time when you had to make a tough decision and how you handled it.
- What have you done to stay updated with industry trends and advancements?
- Describe a situation where you had to work with a difficult team member and how you handled it.
- What techniques do you use to stay organised and prioritise tasks?
- What do you think sets you apart from other candidates?
- Describe a time when you had to take the initiative to solve a problem.
- Describe a situation where you had to manage competing priorities.
- Talk about a time when you had to take ownership of a project and drive it to completion.
- Describe a situation where you had to work with a difficult person and how you handled it.
- What are your long-term career goals?
- What do you think are the qualities of a successful leader?
- Tell me about a time when you had to learn something quickly.
- Describe a time when you had to use your creativity to solve a problem.
- Tell me about a time when you had to give or receive feedback and how you handled it.
- Describe a situation where you had to think on your feet and come up with a quick solution.
- Talk about a time when you had to push yourself to go above and beyond expectations.
Topgrading is designed to provide a robust and multi-layered methodology for interviewing senior executives.
By compiling the views of several hiring managers through a consistently applied set of questions, it can screen out impartial opinions and give a balanced view of not only the most technically qualified candidate for the role, but also the most culturally suitable individual.
Ultimately this provides the highest chance of success for the candidate within the role, as well as a return on investment for the employer in roles vital to the cultural and economic success of the organisation.
Date published: 23rd November 2022
Recruit sales staff
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by Simon Bonner
About the author
With over 25 years in B2B sales and recruitment, Simon is an English Graduate from UEA and specialises in recruiting commercial and FMCG sales positions. Simon joined the sales recruitment industry in 1998 before progressing into field sales and returning to recruitment in 2015. As an Associate Director, Simon is well placed to understand the needs of clients and candidates' needs, having spent ten years selling electronic security and managing National Accounts within OEM manufacturers and distribution channels. An avid Luton Town football fan, Simon dotes on his two daughters and enjoys keeping fit, socialising, food and wine.
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Our employers say...
In an industry where people over promise and under deliver, Rob and his teams have consistently provided a high-quality service. It is great to deal with someone that has an excellent understanding of UK industry, and a passion for sales.
Sales Manager, TR Fasteners
Giles is highly professional and was a pleasure to work with. He achieves excellent results through his personable skills and tenacity. I have no hesitation in recommending Giles to anyone who considers employing his services.
Commercial Director, G4S Government & Outsourcing Solutions
I could not suggest anything I would like you to do better. The service you provided materially exceeded my expectations. I would especially like to commend Simon Bonner; he is easily the best recruitment consultant I have ever dealt with. I particularly valued his advice and guidance throughout the recruitment process.
UK Sales Manager, BTS Holdings Limited
George is a joy to work with, and I'd recommend him to anyone seeking that unicorn hire - he found me mine, and I'm delighted!
Director, Education Support
I really liked the YouTube presentations which made the service seem both simple and accessible. The company came to see me, and my management team, at short notice to present their service and I liked the support and advice that I received about maximising the results from the applicant.
Managing Director, Leisuresec plc
We were impressed not only by the quality of candidates you found for us but also the level of information, preparation and qualification you put into the process. You continually kept us informed of each person’s feelings about the process, which is very important but often overlooked. I am looking forward to working with your company again in the future.
Commercial Director, Incentive Facilities Management
Aaron Wallis has continuously provided us with suitable candidates that have been proactively sourced. Having used countless recruitment companies, Aaron Wallis are the only company that I can count on to deliver.
Managing Director, JARK Healthcare Recruitment
Sophie did a great job at understanding our business and our needs, she is extremely professional and we hugely benefitted from her experience and expertise.
HR Manager, The Data Privacy Group Ltd
I just wanted to thank you for your help with our recruitment process which went very smoothly and has – we hope – found us just the person for the job!
Managing Director, Citrefine International Ltd
I found Aaron Wallis to be very professional and efficient, taking time to understand the role and the type of candidate we were looking for. The candidates they put forward met our criteria and were of a high standard. The service they provided was exemplary and I would have no hesitation in recommending them, and will certainly consider using them again in the future.
HR Assistant, Fischer Connectors Ltd
Thanks for all your help during the recruitment process. I have been extremely impressed with Aaron Wallis especially when compared to other agencies we have dealt with. I really felt you grasped the type of person we required and found strong candidates.
UK Sales Manager, Nexcom
Since joining DSGi, Rob has been a supplier of permanent staff and has performed to an extremely high standard, successfully filling 98% of roles he has worked on. If anyone is looking for a good sales and marketing based consultancy with an informal yet professional approach, I would recommend Rob.
Senior Recruitment Consultant, DSG International
Rob is a true recruitment professional that goes the extra mile that I have never experienced from any other recruitment agency before. If you need sales people call Rob or someone in his team, as they really are experts in sales recruitment.
Sales Director, Inside Business
George is a rare find in the world of recruitment - communicative without being pushy or over-bearing. He listens and understands what the customer needs as gets to know the business to ensure he provides fully competent candidates who fit.
HR Manager, Big Dug
I have used Aaron Wallis to fill a number of our Sales Development Manager roles and I have found them to provide a very professional service. I will use their services again in future recruitment campaigns.
HR Business Partner, Greene King
Giles Phillips is a rare find in the minefield of sales recruitment; an honest and thoughtful recruiter who considers the needs of both the client AND the candidate to create perfect role matches. I look forward to working with him again in the future.
Marketing Director, City of London Police
Thank you for your dedicated help during the recruitment process - we came to you after unsuccessfully searching elsewhere, and hired, not one, but two! Quick response times, and a really personal approach, without being pushy.
Managing Director, Accora Ltd
We appointed Aaron Wallis in February and the successful candidate, out of the six which Aaron Wallis introduced, was able to join Alphametrics before the end of April. The whole process took less than three months. I would recommend Aaron Wallis' services to others without hesitation.
Chief Financial Officer, Alphametrics
Rob’s knowledge of the recruitment industry and his thoughts and how to make it better for his clients have always been eye opening. I would recommend Rob to anybody who is looking for a professional, knowledgeable and flexible recruitment specialist.
CEO, Friday Ad Online Services
I have always found Rob to be very knowledgeable about our industry sector, and it is refreshing to see after all of these years that Rob continues to quickly and accurately understand my requirements.
HR and General Manager, THK
I can't fault Sam or AW! Sam was a pleasure to work with and provided great support from the start. Sam always provided me with timely updates when required and provided outstanding candidates!
Director, Waste Managed Ltd
Really good service. Just the right amount of contact and easy to deal with.
HR Manager, Zircon Software Ltd
Very professional service and will certainly be in contact for future recruitment.
Director, Blakedown Sport & Play Ltd
Generally good standard of candidates. Especially liked the personality profile. Overall good value for money and will certainly use you again.
Managing Director, Medicash
George came recommended by a colleague and has been a pleasure to work with. He was great at updating us on his progress and ensured a great experience for both client and candidate.
HR Manager, Annapurna Recruitment Ltd
As always we were extremely impressed with Rob's understanding of the role and our specific needs.
Managing Director, Speck & Burke
Understood the type of person we were looking for and good follow ups - not too frequent.
Managing Director, bigHead Bonding Fasteners Ltd
Our candidates say...
Simon was knowledgeable on his clients history, background and what their requirements were and he worked around time zones, holidays and a pandemic to get the right result.
J. Tooze, Candidate
Aaron Wallis is an outstanding recruitment agency specialising in high calibre sales positions. I was working directly with Darren Dewrance who went above and beyond my expectations in sourcing me my perfect role. I was kept in regular communication with Darren and he worked extremely hard to secure my dream job. Highly recommended and Thanks Darren for all your expertise and hard work.
R. Sealy, Candidate
Sophie helped me secure a new role I have been searching for. She took her time to explain clear and concisely all I needed to succeed at the interview stage. Thanks again Sophie!
O. Oladejo, Candidate
I had a very good experience with Aaron Wallis. The company itself is offering great content for all things related to the hiring process. I definitely recommend.
J. Ostermeier, Candidate
Sophie contacted me about a role explained the details clearly and made sure I was ready for the interview. She kept in touch every step of the way till I started the job. Thank you Sophie for a great experience.
S. Powell, Candidate
The Recruitment agent I used, Simon, was extremely helpful and really went the extra mile to ensure all of my questions were answered, and that I felt as comfortable and prepared as possible. Very professional company and would definitely recommend to others. Thank you Aaron Wallis!
A. Callaby, Candidate
Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment are a very friendly and professional recruitment organisation who listen to your needs, work with you and act on your behalf which sets them apart from many of their competitors who in my experience are willing to throw anything at you. We discussed my history, my preferences and my wishes - one opportunity was introduced. It was perfect. I start at the end of June.
R. Buckley, Candidate
Very polite and friendly and was very helpful finding me my next new role.
K. Craggs, Candidate
Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.
M. White, Candidate
George above and beyond to make sure I had everything I need to secure my new role. Outstanding Professional.
A. Kirkland, Candidate
I can honestly say that the time and expertise you gave me was way beyond any other recruitment consultant I dealt with. You are a rarity in your industry.
S. Akers, Candidate
Excellent experience. Knowledgeable staff and really went the extra mile. Found my ideal position and I couldn't be happier. Special shout out to Sam and George: who made the process smooth and easy for me. Highly recommend.
K. Pearce, Candidate
The detail put into the preparation for interviews and the detail of the job description was first class. Rob and Simon in particular are amongst the best I've ever dealt with.
K. Peacock, Candidate
Fantastic customer service, communication was brilliant, happy polite people to talk to, made everything a lot easier and smoother. Thank you for all your help getting me back in the work force, Keep up the good work :-)
K. Everitt, Candidate
Fantastic service, helped me find my ideal job quickly and smoothly. Would highly recommend them.
C. Caine, Candidate
Wanted to say a huge thank you to Simon Bonner who has just helped me secure my new role. He was one of the most professional recruiters I have ever worked with he was supportive really quick at replying and really put me at ease.
J. Marcinkiewicz, Candidate
Darren at Aaron Wallis was really encouraging and helpful. He was very responsive and regularly made phone calls to explain the job opportunities available, and guided me through the application process.
A. Brown, Candidate
Excellent service, very professional and friendly, would and have, recommended Aaron Wallis.
E. Heley, Candidate
The staff at Aaron Wallis were fantastic. Throughout the process, they maintained excellent communication and I always knew where I stood.
M. Owusu, Candidate
Less than two weeks after joining Aaron Wallis I was offered my new job. I got a £10,000 rise in my basic salary, car allowance, a laptop and many other perks, which will help to further my career. I definitely would not have found my dream job without the help of Aaron Wallis.
C. Hoy, Candidate
Friendly, proactive, communicative. Overall a really positive experience.
R. Houston, Candidate
For anyone looking for work, I can't recommend Aaron Wallis highly enough.
C. Rockliffe, Candidate
When talking with Simon you felt relaxed cared to help you find a position that suited your needs
D. Pinder, Candidate
Managed to get me placed within a week! Really friendly and easy to deal with. Always available for a call and my biggest challenge was I was in work at the time I was looking for my next opportunity (which is stressful) but Sam made that easy.
P. Fitzsimons, Candidate
Good swift process with Aaron Wallis, informative regarding the role and the process was moved at a good pace with healthy interaction. Would recommend them to anyone pursuing a change.
S. Bartlett, Candidate
A great recruitment company to work with. Excellent experience with Aaron Wallis through the entire recruitment process. The team was really professional and extremely helpful. Darren was a pleasure to work with. He was friendly, supportive and gave me great advice. Thank you very much!
A. Bauchet, Candidate
Wanted to say a huge thank you to Simon Bonner who has just helped me secure my new role. He was one of the most professional recruiters I have ever worked with.
J. Marcinkiewicz, Candidate
I had the absolute pleasure of working with George Humphries on finding a placement best suitable for me.
A. Van Der Mescht, Candidate
I had a great experience. Helped me every step of the way to get my new job. Sophie was very polite, kind and helpful!
J. Parnham, Candidate
I would highly recommend Aaron Wallis Recruitment, Darren was extremely helpful and provided me with plenty of advice and support throughout the whole process.
D. Bretherton, Candidate
I have to say using Aaron Wallis Recruitment has been nothing but an absolute pleasure. I've used many agencies over the years as the client and the candidate and its not always been a pleasurable experience!
L. Knowles, Candidate
Professional and responsive from start to finish. I would highly recommend. Special thanks to Sophie J for her help and support throughout.
N. Leney, Candidate
Rob was really helpful when I was putting together a presentation for the second stage interview. Overall their communication was great and kept me updated of any progress
J. McGrattan, Candidate
The most professional recruitment agency I've ever worked with. Robert Scott was extremely proactive and send me a detailed briefing before each interview, ensuring I was well prepared.
D. Bermant, Candidate
Sophie has been fantastic and always so attentive, highly recommend.
T. Ashbourne, Candidate
Perfect from start to finish. Simon deserves a shout out. Best recruiter there is. If you need a job, this guy will get you one. He's like the super man of recruiters. Top man, can't recommend him enough.
M. Crisp, Candidate
George is a fantastic recruitment agent and provides a great service. It was a pleasure I thoroughly recommend George to anyone.
C. Beaugie, Candidate
Sam was by far the most professional and helpful of any individual I've ever dealt with through a recruitment agency. He was supportive and thorough throughout the process. He definitely goes the extra mile for you. A pleasure to deal with. I would highly recommend him. An asset to Aaron Wallis
M. Wyer, Candidate
Very good advice and support was given during the course of the interviewing process. Potential job seekers would be well advised to use this company whilst looking for their new career.
R. Speakman, Candidate
I have to say coming across and having dealings with Aaron Wallis proved to be very successful. Being highly experienced did not seem to count for much during my job search bit a conversation with Robert Scott gave me a real confidence boost and enabled to get a position at the age of 63. Great service!!!
D. Burgess, Candidate
George Humphries was a complete professional at every point, from our first phone conversation to his “good luck tomorrow” text on Sunday before I started in my new role.
E. Fry, Candidate
I would highly recommend thank you to Darren for helping me secure my new job role! Excellent service all round!
G. Thompson, Candidate
The service provided by Aaron Wallis has been just great. I was constantly informed about what was going on with the process interview and the agent has always been supportive and kind to me.
L. Colagrossi, Candidate