Talent Retention

Employee Experience more important than ever!

You can't avoid the topic: employee experience and trends like employer branding, employee journey, candidate experience and employee centric. It is clear that the employee is central in 2018.

- The first blog in a diptych about Employee Experience & the Employee Journey -

The year of the employee. This means that we as an organization must take good care of our own employees. As an Employer Branding Specialist, I am therefore regularly present at events with these themes. For example, I was present at the event Inspiration for Employee Experience on January 23rd, the first event in the Netherlands focusing on the so-called ‘EX’. That is why I would like to share my expectations for the future with you. At the start of next month, we will also map out the most important trends for 2018 in the area of the entire employee journey.

‘For years, marketing has been about the Customer Experience, the brand and the product of the company. 2018 is the year of the Employee Experience.’

Challenges for HR

Employee Experience is the new challenge for HR. 88% of HR managers worldwide see Employee Experience grow in importance in the coming years (survey KennedyFitch, 2017) via Happy People Better Business. And that makes sense, because happy employees ensure happy customers.

When I received a LinkedIn invitation from Heleen Mes to become a member of the Employee Experience Netherlands / Belgium group during the middle of last year, I found it cool to see that more and more attention is being paid to the journey that every new employee has to make and what is important to facilitate as an employer. Upcoming time I am going to talk with Appical colleagues and customers to map their employee journey and I will look for best practices for their biggest challenges in this area.

7 reasons to start with employee experience

  • Our organization has difficulty attracting talent.
  • We spend a lot of time onboarding new employees and would like to use an interactive platform to make this more fun and easy for both the new hire and the manager.
  • We are working on our ambassadorship internally, but this is difficult because we do not have a specific story. Each department does this in its own way. Often the responsibility for onboarding lies with the supervisor, but we want everyone to get the same ‘generic’ part (see organizational story).
  • We want to put the employee more central and encourage us to provide useful feedback from the first day or even before that.
  • We want to connect more and more online and offline. We see an increasing need here, both for young professionals and for all our other employees.
  • Certain training courses come back annually. We also want to bring this in a more interactive way than through the intranet, from static to dynamic.
  • As an organization you always have to deal with turnover. That is not bad, but we would like to secure knowledge and ensure that someone leaves us ‘happy’ and would recommend us.

Event – Inspiration for Employee Experience

Personally, I was very curious about the challenges and trends that exist among colleagues in the HR field. ABN Amro, a Dutch Banking company, talked about how employees experienced their career at the bank and how they are distinctive in this. Mars (known from many chocolate brands) talked about the integration of values as a condition to make a difference for employees and how they recognize internally, initiatives and contributions. Oracle talked about the latest technologies that can contribute in this process and JvH Gaming was named Best Managed Company 2017 and told how successful onboarding contributes to internal and external success when it comes to the employee journey. JvH Gaming has been using the Appical platform (pre- and onboarding) since July 2017 and we were therefore pleased to see that they wanted to share their experiences on their own initiative. We are very curious about what the entire employee journey looks like and how they will further professionalize this in 2018. The event ended with a ‘compliments session’ and I was happy to see how giving compliments strengthens the motivation in daily practice. The event honored its name. It was an inspiring event where sharing knowledge about the main topic employee experience was central and where you as HR manager, recruiter or marketing manager can immediately get started with!

Tips from Appical

The employee experience and what it delivers to put your employees first, have been longer under scrutiny. In case you were wondering if it was the umpteenth HR hype .. No! Companies that ignore the ‘hype’ will have difficulty getting their growth targets.

In my next blog I will tell you how good pre-, on-, and offboading contribute to your Employer Brand.

You will receive answers to the question of how you can shape your employee journey in order to recruit and retain talent. For example, asking yourself the following questions:

  • Why should I pay attention to the employee experience?
  • Why are a fair organization story and transferring your corporate culture so important?
  • What do I need to think about when I reach my target group?
  • What pain does a good pre- and onboarding process take away for HR and managers?
  • How does an onboarding process work exactly?
  • Why is it so important to organize offboarding properly?

Competency Based Assessment Design

Comptency Based Assessments.png

7 Steps Process

Organization Competency Framewoke based Assessments

We specialize in psychometric, cognitive, IT skills and other skill based assessments. Our solutions help organizations to scientifically create organizational competency framework based assessments that have a high correlation with future on the job performance. We use a bouquet of proprietary tests around cognitive, personality, behavioural and domain competencies to address business challenges and deliver our assessments through our state of the art proprietary secured cloud based platform.

Our solutions are being used today by over 1500+ organizations in 80+ countries globally (SAP (in 18 countries), Capgemini, Aquent, Sapient, Cognizant, Sears, 3M, Accenture, HCL, Polaris etc.) to fulfil their Pre-Screening, Campus Hiring, Experienced (Lateral) Hiring, Employee Engagement (through interactive “Contests”) and Learning / Development needs across a variety of job profiles, job roles and departments.

If you are in the market to for CUSTOM COMPETENCY FRAMEWORK BASED ASSESSMENTS please contact us here

6 Ways To Make Your Life Easier

The McQuaig System allows you to benchmark a role internally, recruit to the requirements of that role, develop your people based on their strengths, and retain your top performers.

How effective is your pre-employment assessment?

Job Match

Easy to understand and apply.

It is not only important to have an 'unbiased' pre-employment assessments as part of the recruitment process but also to have assessments that can be understood and used by 'line managers' and not just HR. 

Many times implementations fail because the solution is so complex that only 'certified' individuals can understand and use it. 

Download our sample report and see for yourself how easy it is to understand and use McQuaig's 'candidate' report by anyone. You do not need to be a certified psychologist or psychometrician to use The McQuaig Psychometric System!   

Five Ways to Develop Employees Using Succession Planning


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Successful succession planning depends on retaining high potential talent and developing those employees so they are prepared to fill key roles. Development efforts often are based on well-defined individual career paths, which keep employees engaged and motivated to excel. However, even companies who don’t have a full-scale career pathing process can bolster succession planning efforts by focusing on honing the talent and leadership skills needed for each vital position. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways.

Constructive feedback tied to specific goals helps employees clearly measure their performance and adapt to meet new challenges. Unfortunately, only 23% of employees feel they are getting the feedback they need to excel. Companies who focus on providing regular and meaningful feedback to employees, however, see 3.6 times the level of engagement, which translates into higher retention rates—a vital component of successful succession planning.

Lateral moves help high potential employees gain necessary skills for new roles by exposing them to varying tasks and responsibilities. Such moves also keep employees engaged by offering the opportunity to meet new challenges. Employees who make many lateral moves also obtain a big-picture view of the company as a whole—a perspective necessary for success in many top-level roles.

Leadership roles like team lead build the kind of leadership skills an employee may need to succeed in future management roles or executive positions. They also promote confidence, a trait that makes employees more likely to speak up about new ideas.

Special project assignments can build specific skill sets, as well as encourage self-direction and independent thought. They also can help fill identified skill gaps in an otherwise well-qualified candidate. Assignments like spearheading a new division or opening a branch in a new region may also serve as a trial run to see how a candidate might perform in a larger role.

Internal and external training opportunities do more than train employees to be better workers. They also encourage retention. Two out of three employees say training plays an important role in their decision to stay with their employer. To be effective, however, training must be engaging. Research indicates that customizable, interactive training that allows employees to go at their own pace and review material already learned may be the most beneficial.

By investing in the development of high potential employees in any of these five ways, companies ensure continual access to a talented and qualified pool of candidates for succession planning purposes. This enables a more robust planning process than creating a simple list of back-up candidates and ensures each person has the skills necessary to handle his or her new job when the time comes. For more information on succession planning, please contact us for an onsite demo. 

INTRODUCTION TO MCQUAIG - A Three Part Video Webinar Series

Now What?

As a McQuaig customer, you understand the lifelong value of assessment tools and how they can enhance the hiring, professional development, and retention of your employees. But you might be wondering exactly how to use your new McQuaig tools to their fullest. We wanted to make sure you're feeling confident in the tools you're about to use, so please enjoy these three short videos to get acquainted with McQuaig, our philosphy, and some orientation on our suite of products. If you have any questions, your Client Success Manager would love to hear from you!

Chapter 1

The Theory

Chapter 2

The McQuaig 3-Step Process

Chapter 3

Team Effectiveness & Succession Planning


For more information on The McQuaig Psychometric System or to schedule a demo, contact us here or simply drop us an email on Psychometrics@hr-email.com

Using Career Paths to Effectively Address Skill Gaps

Approximately 10,000 baby boomers retire each day in the United States. That’s about 30,000 skilled workers per month. And, while there are around 8.7 million people available for work in this country, there are far fewer who have the skills to fill those openings left behind by the Boomers.

Would the third of the above figures be applicable to this ME/GCC Region? 

Skill gaps cost the U.S. economy about $13 billion per month. To thrive in their industries, companies must address these gaps. Doing so means partnering with educational and development organizations and doing one thing many companies just don’t know how to do—creating the talent needed for key roles by training and promoting the candidates already available.

Nearly three out of four U.S. employees are open to hearing about new opportunities, according to latest surveys. Effective companies will harness those wandering eyes—and ensure their own success­—by providing the opportunity for employees to grow and advance past their current roles within their current companies.

Many employees don’t believe they are capable of advancement, because they don’t have the information necessary to move along their career paths. This keeps employees in a holding pattern, which kills engagement, and hinders employers’ abilities to move talent into essential open roles. By providing the right resources and visibility into open roles and competencies, employers can address these obstacles, helping employees obtain the information they need and filling needed skill shortages at the same time. An effective career pathing program is key.

Managers often are able to point employees in the right direction by offering information on major skills shortages or providing access to learning resources. Many times, however, the gaps between where an employee is and where he or she wants to go are small and numerous. A manager may not have the time or the knowledge needed to be able to point out them all.

A comprehensive career pathing software program, however, can look at an employee’s individual talent profile and then compare his or her current competencies, piece by piece, to the competencies required for success in the individual employee’s specific next step. This provides the employee with extensive knowledge into the gaps that need to be filled, an extensiveness that would simply take too much of a manager’s limited resources to achieve. It also enables managers to focus their attentions on what gets the best results—coaching.

Managers can utilize the software’s detailed gap analyses to walk employees through the skills needed for advancement at a level that best fosters understanding and development. Managers also can use the detailed analyses to better track employees’ progress toward their goals and to help employees see where and how they’re making the most progress. This reduces learning time and propels employees along their chosen paths at a faster rate.

Such software also provides additional, targeted learning resources for addressing gaps, instantly putting the power of advancement into the employee’s hands. This enables employees to take immediate action to improve their skill set via mentoring, coaching, and additional training. Such motivation plus the tools necessary to realize those ambitions equals an unstoppable force for employees and companies alike.

Road to Career Pathing in Your Organization

Starting a career pathing program at your organization is not a difficult journey but there are checkpoints that need to be reached in order to complete the trip to your final destination. View this infographic to learn where you need to go and what you need to do when you’re on The Road to Career Pathing In Your Organization!


3 Steps to Better Performance Management

The days of the traditional performance review are behind us. Today, 75% of companies surveyed either have switched, are switching, or are planning to switch to a more updated performance model in an effort to boost employee engagement and drive productivity. Defining that model, however, is a difficult task, as each organization is unique. Following these three steps, however, will ensure an effective transition.

1) Increase Transparency. Employees can better align themselves and their goals with company values and benchmarks when they have a clear understanding of how embodying those values and meeting those benchmarks impacts their day-to-day work life and their overall compensation package.

Ask yourself whether all of your company’s employees can fully explain the organization’s performance management process and the link between their overall performance and their pay. Do they know what all the benchmarks are and how they were chosen? If not, consider filling in those gaps in knowledge with clear explanations.

Transparency builds trust, and trust is a crucial element to organizational success. High trust in the workplace not only makes a company a top-ranked place to work, it also makes a company more than two-and-a-half times more likely to be a high performing revenue organization. The most trustworthy also have been found to consistently outperform the S&P 500. That’s a high reward for a little clear communication.

2) Build a Mentoring Culture. With increased transparency, employees have all the knowledge they need to know how they’re doing in their current roles and what they need to accomplish to grow in those roles and/or to take on new ones. However, if they don’t have any way to act on that knowledge, it won’t be of much use. Creating a mentoring culture, however, ensures they can put their knowledge to good use by asking for feedback or coaching when they need it.

Make sure they have access to educational resources, including experienced members of your team. Most companies focus too much on formal education and career development, when research shows that approximately 80% of learning takes place in an informal environment. A mentoring culture helps adjust this error by encouraging questions, discussions among peers, and on-the-job learning.

3) Give Employees the Wheel. Once you prioritize transparency and foster a mentoring culture, your employees will know where the company is and where it wants to go. They’ll also have the tools and resources necessary to help you get there. Once they have that knowledge and opportunity, it’s easy for them to adjust their day-to-day tasks to propel the company forward. Don’t tell them how to do their jobs. Tell them what you want the company to achieve, and let them figure out how to get you there. The more active your employees, the higher their engagement, their performance, and your overall productivity.

Transitioning from a traditional performance management model doesn’t have to be difficult. Implement these three steps, and watch your company culture, performance, and revenues bloom.

For more information on TalentGuard in Middle East or to schedule a demo please contact us for a call-back.

Taking the Confusion Out of Competency-Based Career Pathing

This webinar is intended to guide and inspire more effective and efficient use of competencies by illustrating best practices in competency-based career pathing. The following will be highlighted during the webinar.

  • The Business Case for Career Pathing

  • Best approaches to linking competencies to Career Paths

  • Implementation: What are the barriers to Success?

  • Case in Point: Competency-based Career Pathing Success Story

Hiring Effective Sales People in 2016!

The Ultimate Guide to Hiring Effective Sales People

Statistics show that 80% of sales require at lease five follow-up calls, and 44% of sales people give up after one. How can you tell if the candidate you're considering will go the distance? It's not likely from the interview. Research shows that interviews are only accurate predictors of future success 14% of the time.

You need to know what traits will signal future success and how to tell if a candidate really has them.  

In this eBook, you'll learn:

  • The most common trait of successful sales people and how to assess for it
  • The most effective interview strategy for hiring winning sales people
  • How a candidate profile increases hiring success
  • What to do when you hire the wrong person

Download this free eBook and get started finding your next Top Producer now! 

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INFOGRAPHIC: Four Steps to Successfully Implement Career Pathing

Career Pathing is a structured, comprehensive development planning process to help employees visualize their career growth within the company. Career Pathing is a proven program by which successful transitions of employees can occur. It helps with succession planning, employee engagement, skills attainment and alignment between employee and company objectives.

There are several reasons why companies have not implemented Career Pathing: Years of traditional employee processes; resistance to changing those processes; fear of employees expecting advancement once they have a career path; belief that these solutions are costly and time-consuming; and expecting implementation will be complex and resource-intensive. In reality, understanding the steps involved in implementing a successful Career Pathing plan helps ensure a smooth transition for the company, rapid implementation time and immediate as well as long-term ROI.

Here are four key steps to consider when building out a formal career pathing initiative:

WEBINAR - Using McQuaig for Leadership Development and Succession Management

Using McQuaig for Leadership Development and Succession Management

Do you know who your next slate of leaders are? Do you know what type of person will be needed to succeed in each future leadership role? What about who has those traits in your company now?

Click here to book your McQuaig FREE TRIAL! You can also invite 4 other colleagues at the same time! 

Why New Grads Are Disappointing Employers

Are colleges and universities cranking out graduates who aren't ready for the workforce? That seems to be the case based on a wealth of research.

This isn't meant to be another one of those Millennial-bashing articles. If it's true, they're not to blame; however, mounting studies are pointing to the fact that new graduates are lacking certain skills that employers need.

It's not the core STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, and math) that employers find most lacking. It's the skills that help an employee navigate the workplace, be creative and grow that employers say new graduates just don't have. It's the lack of what often get called "soft skills"—a term I can't stand because they're clearly not soft—that are making young people less employable.

A survey by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College found that five of the top 10 shortcomings of new graduates (as noted by employers) had nothing to do with their technical skills. They included:

  • Poor work ethic (73%)
  • Lack of critical thinking and problem solving (71%)
  • Lack of communication and interpersonal skills (71%)
  • Inability to think creatively (66%)
  • Lack of teamwork or collaboration (59%)

Compare that list with this one from another study that captured the top 10 skills employers said they were looking for in 2015 graduates:

  1. Ability to work in a team structure
  2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie)
  3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
  4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
  5. Ability to obtain and process information
  6. Ability to analyze quantitative data
  7. Technical knowledge related to the job
  8. Proficiency with computer software programs
  9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports
  10. Ability to sell and influence others

In our own 2016 McQuaig Global Talent Recruitment Survey, the number one reason that new hires didn't work out was due to a personality or character conflict (53%) and lack of skills was a distant second (20%).

The Business/Academic Disconnect

There's no single answer for why graduates are lacking these important skills. Some point to a generation distracted by screens and video games that have altered the brain; others say that schools are lowering their standards; and some blame helicopter parents who swoop in and solve their children's every problem, preventing them from learning critical problem-solving skills.This last one makes me cringe when I think of how many different HR pros have told me stories of parents coming to job interviews or following up when their child didn't get the job. (The first time I heard it, I thought it was a joke.)

Whatever the reason, there seems to be some denial on the part of colleges and universities. A 2015 study called Youth in Transition, revealed that 83% of educational institutions in Canada believe their grads are well-equipped to enter the workforce. Only 34% of employers agreed, and even the students were skeptical with just 44% agreeing they were well prepared.

Should We Measure Graduates' Soft Skills?

At least one expert in the area is advocating measuring these skills in graduates. An article in The Toronto Star reported that the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario is looking to pilot a project to test incoming students on literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills, and re-test them upon graduating.

"If these skills are so important, it's time to actually test students for them," the article quoted Harvey Weingarten, the group's president, as saying.

I wonder what the long-term implications of this will be. Even if colleges and universities begin to address these gaps and teach some of these critical skills, what of those already in the workforce? Their future success, and the success of the companies that they work for, may be in jeopardy.

Do employers need to take up the cause of training new hires in these skills? What about leadership development and succession management? Do we need to focus these programs on skills like team collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving?

What's your experience with hiring graduates? Are their skills up to snuff?

Improving the Quality of Hire with The McQuaig System

The cost of hiring the wrong person can be huge. So can turning over the right person. The key to avoiding both these scenarios is to understand what type of person is best suited to succeed in a specific role at your company, and how to asses for those traits in a candidate.

Through this webinar, you'll learn the Three Levels of Assessment, what each will tell you about a candidate and how to assess a candidate for each level in the interview and during reference checks.

No more guesswork: Learn how to get and use the data you need to reduce the reliance on "gut feeling" when making hiring decisions.

Improve your interview process: Get better interview results by using customized behavioral interview questions and probes that get at the critical, but hard to reach Third Level of Assessment. Focusing on behavioral factors that are relevant to success of the job, managers use their time more effectively and make more-informed decisions.

Learn the secret power of the most overlooked step in the recruiting process: creating a 3-D profile of the ideal candidate and how to use it as a measuring stick.

Infographic of Global Recruiting Trends 2016

LinkedIn's fifth annual Global Recruiting Trends report, which is available for us all to download here, reveals the findings from almost 4,000 talent leaders around the world and presents the industry’s top priorities, challenges and opportunities ahead. If that all seems like too much trouble then have a look at this super infographic produced by Lucas Blake. 

Are Effective Leaders Born or Made?

Is being an effective leader something you’re born with, or can you acquire those skills over time? And are there core elements of leadership that never change, or do you have to change and adapt with the times to remain effective?

Those are questions that have been asked for as long as I can remember. It’s also something that wasdiscussed by a panel of experts last year and what they had to say may hold the key for those of us trying to become more effective leaders, or trying to find the right kind of leaders for our companies.

The panel discussion took place as part of McKinsey’s Leadership Development Practice and included Helen Alexander, former CEO of The Economist Group; Robert Kegan, the developmental psychologist and author, from Harvard University; Nadir Mohamed, former CEO of Rogers Communications; and McKinsey partners Claudio Feser, Mary Meaney, and Tim Welsh.

One of the themes that came out of the conversation was that there are both timeless and changing aspects of leadership.

Changing Leadership Traits

Technology, business cycles, and markets are all moving and shifting faster than ever. Part of being an effective leader is having up-to-date skills and knowledge relevant to the job, according to Tim Welsh. Those things change with time and stages of a business’ natural evolution.

Leaders need to be willing and capable of learning to remain effective. Arguably, this ability to learn is more of a timeless trait.

Timeless Leadership Traits

While the group generally agreed that the traits of an effective leader consisted of a combination of timeless and changing aspects, more of the conversation focused on the importance of those timeless elements.

Claudio Feser noted that “several studies suggest that open-minded, conscientious people who are emotionally tuned to take charge tend to be stronger leaders than people who aren’t.” And these core personality and character traits are set by the time you enter the workforce.

Self-awareness also stood out to the group as an essential trait of an effective leader, which Robert Kegan said has always been a required quality of a leader. This is also something that tends to be a core character trait and not something that is learned.

Finding the Right Leader

So, the organization looking for the right kind of leader needs to be assessing for both timeless character traits and more changing aspects of skill and knowledge. Before you can do that, though, you need to identify which of those traits will enable a leader in your company to succeed.

That means developing an ideal candidate job profile, or Employee Persona. Be sure your profile is three-dimensional so you get a true picture of what a successful leader will look like and use it as both a tool to help find and engage with candidates and as a target to measure candidates against; or, in the case of existing staff, develop them toward.

Assessing for skills and knowledge is best done using behavioral interviewing techniques that ensure you identify candidates who not only possess the right ones, but can demonstrate that they have used the skills and knowledge you’re looking for.

To assess more timeless character traits, your most effective tool is a behavioral assessment. This will allow you to accurately predict how someone will behave on the job and whether they possess the core traits you’re looking for. If you follow our recommended process and complete a Job Analysis before assessing candidates, you can actually get back level of fit measure and customized interview questions to help you with your interviews.

Developing Your Own Leadership Skills

In much the same way a recruiter looking to find a leader needs to start with a target, to develop your own leadership skills you need to first identify the traits that spell success as a leader in your field. Find out what others say is required to be an effective leader; including skills, knowledge and character traits. Then compare that profile with yourself and identify strengths and gaps.

On the character/behavioral side, a self-assessment will provide you with a detailed view of your core personality with respect to work. This kind of insight also dramatically increases your level of self-awareness, a key trait according to all the experts. The McQuaig Self-Development Report includes a personal work plan along with your profile to help you create action steps that lead towards leveraging your strengths.

There’s more on identifying your own leadership strengths here.

What do you think makes an effective leader? 

Are You Picking the Right Kind of Leader?

Most executives are not happy with their organization’s succession management program, despite recognizing the importance of such activities. Those sentiments are taken from reports created by Stanford University and the Institute for Executive Development. If it sounds like something your organization is struggling with, you’re not alone.

In fact, you haven’t been alone for a long time. Back in 2002, an article in the Harvard Business Review made the case that succession management was ineffective in many companies and also proposed an approach to fix what was ailing them.

In the article, authors Melvin Sorcher and James Brant, noted that senior executives often make decisions about succession candidates based on unbalanced and inaccurate information. They tend to overvalue some attributes while undervaluing others.

Specifically, the authors identified these six areas where executives typically overvalue certain characteristics:

Being a Team Player – Those who manage by consensus are often looked on favorably because they keep the peace and make it easy on their superiors. They don’t often make the best leaders, though. A more desirable leadership characteristic is someone who is an independent thinker and more prone to taking risks.

Hands-on Coaching – Being too hands-on as a coach is another area, the authors say, where executives place too much value. Many excellent leaders, they assert, actually prefer to select strong people, delegate and allow them to learn from their own mistakes.

Operational Efficiency – People who are good implementers and problem solvers are often over valued as well. This is kind of the Peter Principle in action, where people are promoted to their level of incompetency. “Being able to solve a problem is one thing,” the authors write. “Knowing which problem to solve – and taking the initiative to solve it – is another.” Here they also flag the risk of not considering how results are achieved. A high achiever who gets results through manipulation will not make a good leader.

Dynamic Public Speaking – How many times have you heard that the ability to get in front of a big room full of people and wow them is a key leadership skill? Not so, according to the article. This skill can be coached and should never be the basis for dismissing a candidate. Much more important is the ability to connect and influence one-on-one.

Ambition – A lack of ambition can be a black mark against a candidate for a leadership role. If they don’t seem hungry, let’s give it to the person who is because they’ll give it their all, the logic goes. The problem is that ambition doesn’t have to be overt, and the presence of it doesn't compensate for inadequacies elsewhere. Modesty and humility are much more predictive of future leadership success than raw ambition.

Similarity and Familiarity – Many top executives fall into the trap of favoring those who are most similar to themselves. Differences in background, experience, culture or geography can cause promising candidates to be overlooked. Often the bias is not even conscious, but it guides decision-making from behind the scenes. At McQuaig, we call this the First Level of Assessment

To avoid making decisions based on these biases, the authors suggest an evaluation process that involves a group of participants composed of:

  • a candidate’s direct manager;
  • their manager’s manager; and
  • other executives who have worked closely with the candidate.

The group should have a “discussion leader” who uses a set of carefully crafted questions designed to predict how the candidate will perform in a position of greater responsibility. This predictive element is one of the biggest gaps in most succession management. “Typically, management reviews tend to focus on the performance of certain tasks, relying on a checklist of competencies, and fail to investigate the behavioral characteristics of an individual.”

This discussion leader must also root out biases and insist on concrete examples to support positive and negative assertions.

Often what happens in these groups is that one person’s impressions may spark similar memories in others who support it. For example, the authors cite an example of one manager reluctantly sharing some information with the group that got other participants telling similar stories, and what emerged was a pattern of manipulation for personal benefit on the part of the candidate.

Another example discussed a project manager who had strong analytical skills, but when pressed for specific examples, members of the group began to tell stories that painted a picture of a great, reactive fire fighter who was unable to see these potential fires in advance and proactively deal with them.

If participants can’t provide specific examples of how someone has, for example, ran an international division, the group might develop a plan that requires the candidate to demonstrate the skills and behaviors required to do so.

This approach has many similarities to our own approach to succession management. We support clients in using behavioral insights to:

  1. Identify future role requirements
  2. Assess their current talent pool
  3. Develop individual leadership development plans

The trick to good succession planning is providing senior leadership with the right information and sifting through the many subtleties of leadership and getting at the core of a candidate’s success and potential. Then you set yourself up to pick the right kind of leader.

How to Use the Selling Process to Hire Better Salespeople

A poor sales hire is a costly one. Recruitment, training and salary costs among other expenses can amount to thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Along with the high financial cost, it can be disheartening for your team and management to deal with the turnover and added workload that results from a departing sales hire.

It’s clear that in sales, your people are your business. You need to hire the best to be the best. But how do you know that you’re hiring the best? How can you predict that a candidate will succeed?

The key to hiring the right, sure-to-succeed sales person for your company is the interview. You might be thinking, “Ian, I interview my salespeople already, and it doesn’t seem to be working!” Depending on how you’re interviewing, you’re probably right. According to a Michigan State University study, interviews only accurately predict employee performance 14 percent of the time. In order to unlock the potential of interview success, you need to know what you’re looking for and how to probe for it.

If you’re reading this you’re probably either a sales manager or an HR professional who has sales managers in the company. That puts you at an advantage. The structure of a consultative selling process is actually remarkably similar to an effective interview strategy. If you understand the first, you can easily adapt it to help you assess and identify superstar salespeople in the interview.

Selling and Interviewing: One in the Same

Sales and interviewing are more similar than they appear. If you’re not quite convinced, bear with me, things will become clear.

The consultative selling process is a quest to uncover your potential customer’s needs and how you can fulfill these needs with your offering. Here’s a graphic representing a typical sales process.

Let’s quickly look at each section and I’ll show you how to adapt this to interviewing salespeople.


Arguably the most important part of the sales process – and the most ignored - is the opening. It sets expectations and creates an impression for the subsequent interaction. If it is rushed or absent, the sales pitch may either die or take a lot more work than it should have.  In job interviews, this is equally true. Without a proper opening, the interview will likely not die completely, but it will become more difficult.

Your opening in a job interview should describe three things:

  1. your reason for being there;
  2. what value you present to your candidate; and
  3. what will happen during the interview.

Here’s an example:

“Hello Jim, I’m happy to be interviewing you for our sales rep position. I’d like to start off with who we are as a company. After that, I’d like to learn more about you, the work you’ve done and any questions you may have. Through doing this, I hope that we will gain insight into whether our company is a good fit for your personal and professional objectives.”

After this is presented, asking your candidate for acceptance of what will be happening will allow him or her to feel comfortable with how the rest of your time together will proceed and allow you to get started.


If your opening gets you in the door during a sales pitch, probing gives you what you’ll need to know in order to move forward. Probing gives you an idea of what your potential customer wants or needs and why. You learn their language and how they speak about what they’re looking for. With this, you know whether your offer is right for them and how to approach presenting it. After all, you wouldn’t try selling a sports car to a father by touting its spaciousness.

This second, extremely important piece of your sales process has a critical place in your job interviewing process.  Think of what you’re trying to gain from the interview. You want to know how they will perform on the job; not what they say they can do, but how they will actually perform. Through the use of behavioral interview questions and techniques you can probe for this information. Like your sales probing questions, behavioral interview questions allow for long and open answers that will get your candidate talking about their past work. Here’s an example:

“Can you share an example of a time when you had to go above and beyond to gain a client? What was the end result?”

Why do these kinds of questions work? They push your candidate to go beyond generic answers that they think you want to hear and they delve into their past behavior. This past behavior will be your best indicator of how they’ll act when working with you.

This is even more effective if you’ve taken the time upfront to create a profile of the behaviors required to succeed in the role. This gives you a target to compare your assessment to, and keeps you focused on the information you need.

You’re Not Done Yet

Asking a good behavioral interview question is just half the battle here. You won’t always get the information you need right off the bat. For this reason, you need to probe with some specific follow up questions. There’s a specific structure for this probing and it looks like this:

SITUATION: What was the situation? (Who was involved, when did it happen, what were the circumstances)

ACTION: What did you do? (The candidate, not the team. Look out for responses that start with“we”.)

RESULT: What was the outcome? (Should be a measurable outcome ex. percentage of increased sales)

This is called the SARR method. Now, you’ve no doubt noticed an extra “R” there. Good catch. I’ll get to that in moment.


Up to this point, much of the interview process has been for your benefit. How will this candidate potentially act in your work place? However, upon hearing your candidate’s answers and success stories you must consider how to ensure they’ll want to choose to work for you, should you decide you’d like them to.

When supporting in the sales process you’re providing confirmation that you understand your prospect’s needs and are offering support through your product or service and its benefits, after which, you ask for their agreement and acceptance.

In an interview, you do this through verbalizing connections between your candidate’s needs and the offerings at your workplace. Are they looking for an opportunity to develop their skills further? This would be a good time to mention that your workplace offers to pay for work-related educational opportunities. Ensure they feel their need has been heard and supported by confirming it, relating your benefit and asking if this interests them.

Confirm their need: “So you’re looking to expand your professional sales skill set?”

Support that need: “We pay for employee’s work-related education to ensure their skills are up to date and effective.”

Ask for acceptance: “Is this something you’d be interested in utilizing if you worked with us?”

Through offering something that your candidate is looking for, you will ensure they will be engaged and stay with your company. That being said, if you don’t have an offering for their needs, this indicates they may not be the best choice to hire as they might leave.

Closing on Next Steps

Closing an interview and closing a sales call are two nearly identical processes. It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll be hiring your candidate on the spot and you may not be ending your sales call with a sale. The objective when closing both of these conversations is establishing what will happen next. In sales this is when a potential customer will meet or talk with you again. In an interview setting, this is when your candidate should expect to hear from you next. Clarity in both cases is important because no one should be left wondering what happens next. Thank your candidates for taking time out of their day to attend the interview, explain the rest of the hiring process and when they should hear from you regarding next steps.

If you’re talking to a superstar salesperson, they’ll likely be in various steps of this process with other companies. By leaving your candidate with uncertainty or failing to do what you committed to in your closing, you may lose them to your competitors.

Don’t forget to Reference Check – The Right Way

The last step is a bit outside of the standard sales process, but it’s the final stage after the interview. Think of it as a credit check on a potential customer. Remember that missing “R” from when you’re probing?  Here’s where it comes into play.

Before you make a hire, you need to check references. This isn’t a call you pass off to an administrator so they can confirm employment dates and titles. Proper reference checking, the kind that helps you confidently know how a candidate will perform once hired, looks remarkably like the interview. The only difference is that it’s with the candidate’s prior managers.

Meet second R:

SITUATION: What was the situation?

ACTION: What did you do?

RESULT: What was the outcome?

REPORTING: Who were you reporting to at that time?

This lets your candidate know that you’ll be verifying the truth behind these stories they provide and it gives you an idea of what questions to ask references.

When you call these people, refer to your interview notes and ask some similar questions that you asked of the candidate. Remember, the goal here is to confirm that they have demonstrated the kind of behavior that will lead to success in the role.

As a skillful salesperson, you can create a valuable and predictable process for identifying top-performing candidates. You can anticipate how they’ll perform and leave them feeling as though working with you is one of the best career decisions they can make.

Posted by Ian Cameron

Fit or Fat?

There has been a significant rise on the number of jobs being advertised on social and professional networks. That's a good sign for job seekers, provided they are genuine, the more jobs the merrier.

However on the flip side the grass isn't always green. To employers means profile view requests in addition to the profiles coming through email/application channels. This is where quantity doesn't guarantee quality. In fact in most cases it ignites chaos and missed opportunity for genuinely good applicants. 

One of the challenge is how to identify the right fit from the fat?

Most hiring professionals and psychologists agree that technical qualifications only constitutes less than 30% of the candidates probability of succeeding on the job. One of the most important factor for success on the job is the persons temperament that consist of traits which determine his/her probability of success on the job.

How are you identifying these traits and measuring them in candidates to select the right fit?