Rockefeller Habits users Appster have scaled in four years from two young founders to 350 “Appsterfarians” across 3 continents and $20 million in revenue. Starting with just $3,000 one of the most difficult things experienced during this growth is attracting, identifying and on-boarding the right people who align with the company culture and can produce the desired results according to co-CEO’s Josiah Humphrey and his co-CEO Mark McDonald. To solve this problem they adopted the Topgrading recruitment process as outlined in the book Scaling Up for their Australian based software development company to ensure with the highest likelihood that they have ‘A players’ or the top ten percent of available candidates join the business which is undergoing growth at around 100% per year.



In this interview co-CEO Mark McDonald discusses the Topgrading process and goes through several of the tools Appster uses to onboard the best people including;

  • Having a deep virtual bench for each role, which means ensuring that at all times each role within the organisation has people on ‘stand by’ who the company has already spoken with about potentially joining the business, even though there might not be a current opening (and maintaining a dialogue with these people)
  • At the first part of the process, spending up to two hours with each candidate on an in depth dive into the persons career history
  • The TORC process, which is Threat Of Reference Check ensuring that all candidates are aware that it is their intention to contact all previous employers and to ask both the candidate and previous employer to rank the persons performance
  • A peer review stage where each candidate is required to meet with existing team members who rate the individual on their ability to align with Core Values
  • How every reference check it is important to dig deep and uncover the real reasons why the person isn’t in the organisation now. This means asking questions such as “if there was one reasons you would not rehire the person, what would that be?”
  • Why the most important reason to undertake a reference check is to understand if a person would not enthusiastically rehire a person, why?


appster Mark McDonald

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