McQuaig Job Survey

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!   


The end of the hiring process can sometimes be as stressful as the beginning – especially when your top candidates all seem like a strong fit for the job. Wouldn’t it be easier if the perfect candidate rose to the top each time?

Unfortunately, that’s often not the case, and hiring managers are left with some tough decisions to make. So what's the trick to choosing between two (or three or four) equally qualified candidates? Well, there are many opportunities to streamline your recruitment process to ensure you're hiring the right person, but here are three critical factors to consider when you’ve narrowed it down:

Job Match

The first thing to look at is how each candidate stacks up against the job profile for the role. If you use something like McQuaig personality assessments, this step is pretty straightforward: simply generate a report that compares the candidates’ personality profile against the temperamental requirements of the role. In a few seconds, you should see if the candidates are a strong match, a potential match, or if they don’t really match at all.

If you don’t use personality assessments, this step is still pretty simple: based on your candidates’ interview answers, try to match up their responses to elements of your job description. It’s important to revisit the job description or job profile after each step of the hiring process, to stay focused on what matters in the role, and to more accurately pick up on great opportunities or potential warning signs. Revisiting your information - instead of going off of gut feel or your memory of the interview - is a critical step that often gets overlooked. But it can typically reveal information that's vital in pinpointing and hiring the right person.

Pro Tip: We built a job description template that you can fill out in 20 minutes or less - check it out here.

Interview Answers and Candidate Interest

Standardizing your behavioural interview questions is a great way to level the playing field between candidates. Getting them to answer the same set of core questions can help you easily see where surprising differences may exist. Revisit each candidates’ answers as you make your final hiring decision – and remember to line questions up with critical elements of the job description. This way, you’re always aware of what’s most important in the job, and it becomes easier to see where some candidates excel and where others may not be so effective.

Revisiting interview responses is also a great way to re-gauge candidate interest. Did one candidate provide great answers but seem uninspired? Did another candidate lack technical skill but have the right approach to solving the problems you need solved? Assessing these observations after the fact can help with hiring the right people the first time - and avoiding a turnaround surprise down the road.

Reference Answers

References are a terrific source of information if you ask the right questions. Similar to the interview, standardizing reference questions – and going beyond the traditional confirmation questions – can help solidify observations made during the interview. Tying reference questions back to the job profile is a great way to confirm not only what the candidate said in the interview, but also how their work was received from a more objective standpoint.

Remember that equally qualified on paper may not mean equally qualified in terms of temperament or personality. And technical skill doesn’t always indicate top performance on the job. Hiring the right people all comes down to keeping in mind what the role requires, both from a technical and a temperamental stance. So when your candidate list is whittled down and making a decision seems impossible, remember to revisit the core of what the job entails, and realign candidate responses to those requirements. After a little consideration, it might feel like the right candidate is jumping off the page!


When things get really busy on your team and no one has enough time to do everything that needs to get done, you realize you need more manpower. Or when you know something needs to be done but no one has any idea how to actually do it, it’s time to bring in a new member. But who is this new addition? What type of person will mesh well with the team? What characteristics do they need to actually do the job?

In making your wish list you will likely start with the basic experience and educational background. This person went to university for this and knows how to do that. Then naturally you will start to throw in things like “they need to be able to take charge” or “they will need to be self-directed”. At the end of the exercise you will have an entire list of “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” that describe your perfect new team member.

The Problem

Although this list is great, and definitely necessary, there are two problems. One, the personality aspects that you have listed, to the untrained eye, may be contradictory. Did you know that it is conflicting to be someone who likes to take charge but also be detail oriented? Two, the team members that helped to make this list may have different ideas on the prioritization of these aspects that will lead them to look at candidates through different lenses. If one person thinks it is more important to be cautious while another thinks it’s more important to be persistent, than they are looking for two very different candidates.

The Solution

The Job Survey consists of 21 sets of 4 words or phrases that asks the respondent to rank them in order of most descriptive to least descriptive in relation to what is required for a role. The result of the Job Survey is an ideal personality profile for a position that can be used as a benchmark for comparisons against candidates. The accompanying report will notify you if your choices are contradictory and allow you to adjust accordingly. And when multiple people complete the Job Survey, comparing the results will highlight any discrepancies in team members’ expectations and force a discussion on what is best for the role.

Other Helpful Features

Once you have the outline cut out for your perfect new team member, it’s time to find some people who will fit it. Like any good piece of content, you want the job description to resonate with your reader. You want your ideal candidates to read it and feel compelled to apply. You can use language right out of the Job Survey Report to help you do so! And just to make sure you have the right applicants, the report includes resume screening tips and behavioural based interview questions for your phone screening process.

Completing the Job Survey takes just ten to fifteen minutes and provides you a picture of your ideal team member that is both consistent and cohesive. Using this profile in your recruitment process increases your hiring accuracy, especially in combination with the McQuaig Word Survey.

WEBINAR - Improving the Quality of Hire with The McQuaig System

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.

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

Why you aren’t getting results from behavioral interviewing

The concept of behavioural interviewing is nothing new. In fact, I would wager that a majority of you reading this have used the technique in your own hiring process—or at least you think you have. That’s the thing about behavioural interviewing, the concept is simple, but actually applying it correctly is trickier. And if you’re not applying it correctly, it's likely not helping you hire the right candidates.

There is a trick to making this method of interviewing work harder for you, and getting that right is an important interviewing skill to add to your arsenal. I’m going to share that trick with you in this blog.

Let’s start off by being clear on what we mean by behavioural interviewing. This method of job interviewing is focused on uncovering examples of how a candidate behaved in specific work situations. It’s based on the premise that past behaviour is a strong predictor of future performance.

If you’re asking questions like “What are your strengths and weaknesses?  Where do you want to be in five years?  Can you work under pressure?  Are you a team player?  How would you handle this situation?”  You’re using traditional interviewing, not behavioural interviewing. This kind of interviewing will not help you identify A-level talent.

I can hear the collective “duh” from many of you out there. “Of course we know what behavioural interviewing is. And we’re using it.” You’re probably asking questions that start with “tell me about a time that you …”

That’s a good start, but that’s not behavioural interviewing; at least not on its own. The piece missing is what comes after the question: the probing. That's where behavioural interviewing brings real value.

The trick to more effective interviewing

Behaviour-based interviewing adds value because it offers a window into past behaviour that, in turn, provides an insight into how a candidate will behave in your company. In working with our clients, though, we find that they are often met with one of three types of responses when they ask a behaviour-based interview question:

  1.        Silence
  2.        Vague generalities
  3.        A verbal explosion

None of these responses is going to give you what you need. Whether they are unable to think of an example, only give you vagaries, or go off on so many tangents that you lose track of the conversation, you fail to get the value from the question.  

In order to take control and get the response you’re looking for, you need to probe them with the SARR method.

Situation: What was the situation? Get a description of what they were facing, who the players were.

Action: What did they do? Them specifically, not “we.”

Result: What was the outcome?

Reporting: Who were they reporting to?

Using SARR enables you to draw out the silent one, drill down with the vague responder and focus the verbal explosion, getting to the information that enables you to make a better hiring decision.

Many people ask us about the last question about reporting.  The reason you want to ask this question is as a bit of a check for the candidate.  You want to make sure that they know you’re going to check on some of these stories to make sure they’re real. 

You can also use this method in your reference checking, too, but that’s a topic for another post.To explore some other common interviewing mistakes, read this.

What are your thoughts in behavioural interviewing? Do you use it? Does it work for you? Let us know in the comments section.  

By Kristen Harcourt

Why Sales People are the #2 Hardest Role to Hire

Are you having trouble hiring a sales person? If so, you're not alone. According to research from Manpower Group, sales representative is the second hardest role to fill globally. That's up from fourth spot last year and the first time it's been that high since 2011.

But why is it so hard to fill these roles? And when you do, why does the person you thought looked great end up being a disappointment so often? 

An article in The Business Journals points to two potential reasons for a sales talent shortage. The first is increased hiring from small enterprise firms looking for fast growth prior to an IPO. The argument being that the market is rewarding companies that can demonstrate fast growth over other aspects of the business, so they're staffing up their sales teams.

A second reason the article proposes is that the stereotype of sales people as manipulative and slimy is drawing fewer people to the profession.

Whatever the reason, there does appear to be a talent shortage and that makes it even harder to find an effective sales person, but even more important to spend the time to do so or you'll find yourself back in that market far too quickly.

What makes a successful sales person?

When most people think of a successful sales person, they picture someone outgoing, assertive, enthusiastic, and ambitious; a typical extrovert. And the more extroverted the better, right? Research actually suggests otherwise.

For some time, psychologists have been pointing to a weak link between extroversion and sales performance. Adam Grant of the Wharton School of Business looked at the personality profiles and revenue generation of 340 outbound call center sales employees in the US.

What Grant found was that typical extroverts (as measured using the validated Big 5 personality measure) performed no better than their introverted colleagues. More interesting, though, is who did perform the best. The group in the middle – what psychologists calls ambiverts – outperformed both groups. These ambiverts generated 24% more revenue than their extroverted colleagues.

The secret to sales success, it seems, is actually to recruit someone who is more balanced on the introversion/extroversion scale. The problem with highly extroverted people, Grant notes, is that they’re likely to focus heavily on their own perspectives. They’re more likely than introverts to dominate a conversation and that makes them less adept at listening to the needs of others, which is a crucial skill for sales, especially in B2B. Swing the pendulum the other way, though, and you end up with someone who is too analytical and not outgoing enough to build the relationships necessary in sales.

When we look at our own research and the results from working with over 1200 clients around the world, we see trends emerge. The #1 trait we see in effective sales people is a high level of dominance. People with high levels of dominance are competitive, risk takers, results-driven and highly motivated. They thrive on challenge and they’re not happy unless they’re achieving results. This type of person is actually motivated by failure, it pushes them to try harder to achieve sales targets.

This last point is incredibly important. Statistics show that 80% of sales require at least five follow-up calls while 44% of sales people stop after one follow up. This is the trait that allows someone to persevere in the face of frequent rejection without letting it slow them down.

The other interesting thing about this trait is that it’s the one most ingrained in our nature. That makes it the hardest one to fake and compensate for. You may see all the right characteristics from someone in an interview, and they may even show the right stuff early on in a job, but they ultimately fail if they are not naturals in this area.

How do you find your ideal?

If someone can fake the right stuff, even for a short time, how do you tell who really has it? The challenge for hiring managers is that these traits can be faked short-term; in an interview, for example. In fact, a study done by Michigan State University found that interviews are only accurate predictors of future performance 14% of the time, but they are used to make hiring decisions 90% of the time.

You need a way to identify a candidate’s natural disposition in order to be certain they are making a good hiring decision.

Behavior-based interviewing can help. Behavior-based reference checking can be even more useful. And scientifically sound assessments can provide an even higher level of insight to empower better decision making.

One of the most important steps is knowing what type of a person you need for success in the role you're hiring for. You need to have a profile that you can measure candidates against. If you’d like some help creating the profile of a successful sales person try our free Job Analysis Worksheet. It will help you document what a successful candidate needs to possess and gain consensus with the other stakeholders at the table.

For a deeper look at how assessments can help you avoid hiring another sales failure who looked great on paper and in the interview, get a free trial of The McQuaig System.

Hamilton Resourcing Welcomes Shurooq!

Shurooq - Sharjah Investment and Development Authority signs a multi-year psychometric assessment agreement with Hamilton Resourcing to implement The McQuaig Psychometric System. 

About Shurooq:
The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, also known as Shurooq, is the driving force behind the transformation of Sharjah. Guided by our traditions and inspired by innovation, we are committed to enhancing Sharjah’s appeal as an investment, tourism, and business destination.

Shurooq is committed to the future of Sharjah. We balance generating return on investments with our genuine commitment to develop projects that benefit citizens, residents and visitors alike.

About Hamilton Resourcing:
Hamilton Resourcing was founded in 2009 to provide global ‘passive’ executive talent acquisition services to regional organization. Realization of the need in the market to improve the quality of hire and retention in 2011 Hamilton Resourcing acquired exclusive regional representation rights of The McQuaig Psychometric System™. Evolution continued with the 2013 regional consulting partnership agreement with LinkedIn. In 2015 to further disrupt the outsourced talent management space Hamilton Resourcing singed the regional representation agreement with the global leader in video interviewing and selection, Sonru.  

By keeping each of its services independent; talent acquisition, psychometric & video interviewing and easily accessible our clients have the choice to address exactly what is needed.  

For more information:

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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. 

The Real Cost of Bad Hiring Decisions

We often talk about and arrive at figures for the Cost-per-hire (CPH) at the risk of distracting ourselves from 'Quality of Hire'. Perhaps an analysis of the economic impact of 'bad hiring' decisions will refocus our attention as we embark on our 2016 recruitment drive. A Career Builder survey found 42% of companies reporting that a bad hire cost them at least $25,000, and 25% reported a loss of at least $50,000. A tracking study by Leadership IQ found that 46% of 20,000 new hires failed within 18 months.  Of the new hires, another 45% were found to be only fair to marginal performers effectively meaning that 81% of new hires are a disappointment. 

The Cost of Bad Hires varies by Country

The findings of the 6,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals in the Career Builder survey found that the single bad hire costs varied by country, for example: 

  • U.S.: $50,000. 
  • Germany: €50,000 ($65,231).
  • U.K.: £50,000 British pounds.
  • India:  2 million Indian rupees ($37,150)
  • China:  300,000 CNY ($48,734).

In an article in Fast Company, Rachel Gillett wrote about Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh who offers new hires $2,000 to leave the company and his policy of hiring slowly and firing quickly. Hsieh maintains his past bad hires have cost his company over $100 million.

The Career Builder survey found that the costs could also be higher between lost worker productivity, time and expense in recruiting and training another employee not to mention the negative impact on employee morale and the client relationship. 21% of companies admitted that they hired poorly because they didn’t take the time to properly test and research the employee’s skills. For more insight into the cost of a bad hire and what you can do to avoid it, Mindflash have very conveniently produced this infographic of the key findings from the Career Builder survey.

Assess the right level to find your ideal candidate

This infographic outlines what we call the Three Levels of Assessment for candidate assessment. They represent the levels of a person that allow you to determine if they will succeed in a role. If you’re not looking at the right level, you may be making decisions based on bad information.

There was a study done at the University of Michigan that found that interviews are only accurate predictors of future success 14% of the time. The other 86% of the time, they’re not reliable.

The reason for that is interviewers are tapping into the wrong level of information in an interview to make a useful prediction of future success.

When we talk to clients, we talk of three levels of assessment. The first level is this phenomenon that we all experience called the first impression. When we first meet somebody, in that initial gut reaction we have to meeting that person, we tend to make a decision, even on a subconscious level, about whether we like this person or not. A study done at Princeton University suggests that in just 100 milliseconds, people are making decisions about you or you’re making decisions about candidates based on their appearance. 

This level of assessment is based on appearance, mannerisms, expressiveness and presence. We refer to this as the “Appear to” level, meaning this tells you what a candidate appears to be able to do.

When it comes to predicting future performance, this first level has a very low success rate. In other words, you could meet somebody, have that initial great reaction about them, feel really connected; think, yeah this is the person that I want to hire, which, by the way, is what most hiring managers do. Then you spend the rest of the interview trying to prove or disprove that initial gut feeling; it can bias an entire interview.

So, we move onto the second level, which is really about skills, abilities and experiences. The kind of information you would find on somebody’s resume. This level encompasses learned skills, experience, education and credentials. This level has a greater impact on predicting performance on the job. We call that the “Can do” level. It tells you what a person can do, but not necessarily what they will do. For that we have to look to the level 3. 

We call this final level the “Will do” level because it allows us to assess how that person will behave on the job. It includes attitudes and beliefs, self-motivation, capability to learn and temperament.

Temperament is probably the foundational piece in this level. It’s temperament, or behavior patterns, that really capture a person’s nature, their disposition. It’s the reason we are who we are and it influences those other elements on the list. Psychologists tell us that either people are born with certain temperament or that it’s instilled at a very early age.

We know that this aspect actually has the highest impact on future success, if we can access it, but it’s the hardest piece to get to. If you picture an iceberg, levels 1 and 2 are the tip that’s above water – what you typically see in an interview - and level 3 is the bulk of the iceberg beneath the surface. You usually don’t get to see that until eight or nine months down the road. 

If you can access that third level before you hire, though, your chances of hiring someone built to succeed skyrockets.

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

5 Questions You Must Answer to Attract Top Talent

Are your employees more or less happy this year than last? According to research conducted by Milewalk, they’re less happy. They’re also open to new opportunities and half of them have actually taken the step to interview with another company in the past year.

These are just some of the findings we talked about with Milewalk CEO, Andrew LaCivita in our October 27 #MiChat. Want to hear more?

Andrew is the founder and chief executive officer of Milewalk, an executive recruitment firm. His new book, The Hiring Prophecies: Psychology behind Recruiting Successful Employees, present the results of a 10 year study involving 10,000 employees and 200 companies. In it, he provides a proven recruitment methodology that counteracts the ever-present challenges when evaluating job candidates.

In our 25-minute interview, Andrew shared a number of insights from his new book and results from 10 years of research he’s conducted that uncovered why companies have trouble hiring and retaining top talent. Among other things, Andrew gives us the five questions that companies must ask themselves in order to be able to attract top talent. Watch the complete interview below.

Posted by Kristen Harcourt

Writing a Job Description the Right Way


So, you’ve just posted an opening for a new administrative assistant and BAM! It’s like the flood gates opened and you’re inundated with applications. Suddenly you’re staring down at hours of mind-numbing work sifting through all these applications to find the qualified few. It’s a pretty common problem and, I hate to say it, but it’s your own fault.

If you want to avoid this, it might be time to look at your job descriptions.

A poorly written one will attract unqualified candidates and even turn away those A-level candidates you really want to attract. If it’s too short you won’t cover all of the necessary information. If it’s too long, you may bore your potential applicants away before they even reach ‘apply’. So what length is just right? There isn’t any true consensus but if you can succinctly tap into the following components, you’re more likely to get the candidates you’re looking for.

Back to Basics

A job description should be unambiguous, concise and direct. Candidates should not be left wondering if they’re right for the position or when they’ll hear back. To achieve this there are certain things you’ll need to include:

Position: Should be a familiar and commonly used title. While a “marketing maven” sounds fun a “marketing coordinator” is more likely to be picked up by search engines.

Location/Company: Boast about what makes your company one-of-a-kind. Because although you’ll be paying the new hire, they must buy into your organization.

Qualifications: Consider the kinds of education your candidates will require in order to do the job. Avoid being too narrow and consider all applicable fields to avoid shrinking your candidate pool.

Skill requirements: What’s listed in this section should be only what IS required. By including too much you’ll scare away potential candidates. You can always train for other skills later.

Preferences: This is where any other helpful skills can be listed. Do you have a lot of French or Spanish customers? It may be nice to have a bilingual candidate. The job can be done without your preferred skills but if candidates have and highlight them it’s an added bonus.

How to apply: With the prevalence of online job boards it is not always clear how to apply to your position. If you only look at applications sent through your company’s website, be sure to specify this rather than just providing a hyperlink.

Closing date: It can take candidates an hour to apply to a position. Don’t waste their time by having them apply to a closed position left on an online job board.

How/When they will be contacted: If you’re branding your organization correctly, the right candidates will be excited at the possibility of working with you. If you leave them indefinitely wondering if they’ll hear from you, this excitement will surely go away.

Approximately when they will need to start if hired: This is likely an approximate start date but it can help currently employed candidates plan ahead and let unemployed candidates decide whether they’ll be able to wait out the start date financially.

But most importantly…

Behavioral Requirements

While you can teach skills, behavioral fit is more difficult to develop in new hires. Think of an administrative assistant, you could find a hundred people who have nearly the exact same skill set and level of education. Now imagine this occupation in a tech start up where things are a little less established and organized. The administrative person at this start up will need to roll with quick changes, developments and additions to their responsibilities. An administrative assistant to the CEO of a mature organization will need different attributes to succeed. Fit with the personality and behavior of the boss is also really important in a case like this, and that can differ dramatically.

Be sure to include behavior and personality traits a candidate will need to succeed in your job descriptions to give candidates a complete picture of what working for you will be like.

Our customers use McQuaig assessments to help in this part of writing the job description. By answering a short survey about what types of behaviors will make a candidate more successful in the role, they get back a detailed report that provides ideal temperament of someone in the job. They can then use this to create a more robust job description – and measure candidates against it. Here’s an example of what this might look like:

To succeed in this Administrative role, you should be:

  • A good team member who will be careful about making decisions and will think through a problem and weigh the pros and cons
  • Good with detail and takes your duties seriously
  • Relaxed, patient, steady and reliable
  • Good at and like routine work
  • Logical, task oriented and analytical

The report also provides resume screening tips customized to the behavioral requirements and customized behavioral interview questions to help you assess for these qualities in the interview.

What do you do to set your job descriptions apart from others?

Posted by Kristen Harcourt

Here Come The Boomerangs

Here’s a scenario I’m sure many of you have found yourself in: You’re looking through resumes for a new job posting, weeding out the chaff, trying hard to understand if some of them even read the job posting and then you see it: the boomerang.

A candidate who used to work for your company applying to come back. In the past, many of you may have rejected the applicant because they already left you once. Even those of you without an official policy on the matter, may have wondered what would keep them from leaving again? A new survey suggests attitudes about boomerang employees may be changing. But should it?

The survey of 1,800 HR professionals, people managers and employees in the US revealed a number of interesting insights into the boomerang candidate and how companies are viewing them today. The study is cited as the first release in The Employee Engagement Lifecycle Series and was commissioned by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and Here are some of the highlights:

  • 85% of HR professionals have received an application from a former employee in the past five years
  • Three-quarters of HR professionals and two-thirds of managers say they are more accepting of former employees now than in the past
  • 15% of employees said they had boomeranged back to a former employer
  • For Millennials that number is 46%, suggesting we’re missing opportunities to convince them of our employer value proposition before they leave
  • Familiarity with corporate culture was identified as the biggest benefit to hiring former employees, while 1/3 also cited reduced training needs

From the looks of those numbers – especially the high number of millennial boomerang employees – this cohort is going to be an increasingly competitive candidate segment.

Despite the benefits of hiring a former employee, it’s important not to treat them differently in the recruiting process. More than ¼ of respondents say these employees may encounter the same issues that caused them to leave in the first place. They may have been part of your organization before, but it’s important to make sure they are a fit for the current role.

At The McQuaig Institute, we recommend and support a three-step process to make sure you get the right person – boomerang or otherwise – for the job.

  1. Create a target, or Employee Persona, that includes the key temperament and behavior style that’s required for success in the role and the company.
  2. Assess candidates against this target and use behavioral interviewing techniques – including SARR probing – really get a sense of what a candidate WILL do on the job, not just what they CAN do.
  3. Develop a personalized development plan for your new hire catering to their strengths, natural behavioral style and learning style.

By following that three-step process, you’re much more likely to hire someone who will be productive and stay with you, and not boomerang back to someone else.

What’s your experience with hiring former employees? Are boomerangs a good thing, or do they bring back all their problems, too?

Tips for Hiring Millennials From a Millennial

Are you an HR pro or recruiter in a company that wants to keep up with advances in technology, the growing influence of social media and attention-grabbing marketing strategies? If so, you may be one of many people who had this thought: Yes that’s it! I’ll hire a millennial; they’ll bring fresh skills and a new perspective. 

As a member of that millennial generation I am going to share some tips with you to prevent this from being a decision you come to regret. Fast forward one month later and your eager millennial hire became disengaged, dressed casually, and stares at their phone while complaining about their commute. A week or two later you may have decided they wouldn’t be a good fit or they left the position before you could formally let them go. Regardless of the specific situation, it’s perplexing that these well-educated, excitable employees can lose interest so quickly.

As a millennial, I hear my friends’ side of these stories. I’ve seen their excitement about a new job followed by a quick descent into boredom or disdain. They tell me they aren’t getting paid enough, they don’t want to travel to work or they just aren’t being challenged.

Millennials, Motivation and the Workforce

By 2025, millennials are predicted to make up 75 percent of the American workforce. Baby boomers will gradually retire and millennials will become the bulk of the workforce. For this reason, those hiring millennials must understand their motivations. Millennials tend to seek out more money, more knowledge and more advanced technology at a fast pace.

Our need for speed may make us less willing to stay in a position that doesn’t offer quick growth. Our techno-centricity means that we can work from anywhere, seemingly rendering travel unnecessary. We may even choose to work from home if given the opportunity.

Although we’re pushing the boundaries of the traditional workplace, we bring a valuable asset; an unstoppable drive to succeed. Employers who attract and support millennial candidates will reap the rewards of this ambition.

I can’t say that all millennials are exactly the same; I however, from my personal experiences, and those of my friends and colleagues, see that there are certain employee attraction and retention techniques that work better than others. Take a look below to learn what we want from employers.


Millennials are lifetime learners. Many of us spend several years in university or college. What we want from an employer is continuous engagement and investment in building our skills. This can be done through the following:

Professional development opportunities: The development of skills will increase employee satisfaction and retention. This is especially true of millennials.

Celebration of small victories: Millennials thrive with the right feedback. If we’re told we’re doing well, we’re pushed to do better. If we’re given specific, constructive criticism, it will stick with us and be used for future improvement.

Responsible workplaces: Research shows that 78% of American millennials base decisions about where they work on the company’s level of social responsibility. Personally, I cannot justify working for a company that I felt was acting poorly given the current state of the world economic and physical environment.


Once you’ve hired a millennial, it’s important that they feel that they a valued part of your team. The following are tips to avoid millennial employee turnover:

Let us take the lead: Millennials are entrepreneurial spirits. We aren’t afraid to take charge of a task or project. In fact, we’re practical and can sense when job-related risks outweigh the potential reward.

Give us access to the latest technologies: The millennial generation has grown up with technology. We’re informed about what the latest technology is and how to use it to our employer’s advantage.

Cross training: If you train millennials in job duties other than their own you’ll appeal to our need to evolve in the workplace. You will also change our daily routine, which will keep us engaged.

What methods have you used to recruit millennials? If you are a millennial yourself, what excites you about a potential employer?

Download Article Here

Posted by Kayla Towne

Revealed: The Secret Reasons You Have Trouble Hiring & Retaining Top Talent

After a 10-year study with 10,000 employees and 200 companies, executive recruiting firm Milewalk has uncovered the secret reasons that employers have such difficulty attracting and retaining A-Level talent.  

On October 27, we’ll be interviewing Milewalk CEO Andrew LaCivita live to discuss what he learned from this study.

In his latest book, The Hiring Prophecies, Andrew LaCivita presents the results of his 10-year study that revealed the leading indicators of recruiting and retention success.

He shows how to develop a process to find the candidates who are the best fit and the ones most likely to stay with the company long-term, and teaches the most effective interview techniques and questions to evaluate a candidate.

Andrew is the founder and chief executive officer of Milewalk, an executive recruitment firm. His other books include Interview Intervention and Out of Reach but Insight. He’s also a speaker and blogs at

How to Join #MiChat

To watch the interview and chat with Andrew join me on #MiChat on October 27, 2015 at 1 PM EST, by visiting Join us during and after the interview to participate in the conversation on Twitter using the hastag #MiChat.

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?


The Most Popular Employee Onboarding Articles on the Internet

There is a lot of advice our there about how to best onboard new hires. When you consider that studies have shown a good onboarding program can lead to increased revenue, lower turnover, and improved customer satisfaction that makes sense. To save you some time in the search for ideas, we've compiled a list of the 10 most shared articles from across the internet on the topic of onboarding. 

Our recent ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Employee Onboarding, covers a lot of best practices, but we wanted to share what other voices out there have to say on this important topic. So, here are summaries of the 10 most shared articles and blog posts on onboarding from around the web along with links to the original articles.

1) Employee Onboarding at Startups Is Broken – Here’s How to Fix It

Summary: Startups want the most talented people they can recruit and are fighting for the best talent. The author suggests that startup new hires are left to learn and experience the workplace on his or her own. This leaves the employee to feel uncared for and open for recruitment into another organization. A number of fixes along with advice are offered.

2) New Employee Onboarding Best Practices for New Hires

Summary: Trello provides best practices that play up the personal side of onboarding, encouraging socialization; organization and asking for new hire input, are provided. Trello points out “everyone is different. Introverts, extroverts, HQ, remote. We want their first week to be amazing, and part of that is adapting the process to fit them.”

3) How to Get Employee Onboarding Right

Summary: Maren Hogan provides an excellent breakdown of the difference between onboarding and training. If you’re looking for a simple way to explain the difference between the two, this article is for you.  She explains, “Training is fuel for your onboarding engine.”

4) 12 Employee Onboarding Best Practices Every Business Owner Needs To Know

Summary: Best practices for onboarding are broken down into three sections in this post by Rob Wormley: before the new hire starts work, during the first week, and during the first 30-90 days.

5) Sales and Employee Onboarding Best Practices

Summary: Startups are coming to the realization that onboarding is vital to their success in the future. In an interview with David Skok, Andrew Quinn of Hubspot explains Hubspot’s sales onboarding process. Another huge highlight of this piece is that it tells you what you need to consider when building your onboarding strategy, who should do so, and how to evaluate it.

6) How to Stop Losing Money on Employee Turnover by Improving Your Onboarding Process

Summary: Ron Sela provides another examination of onboarding in startups. He points out that an ineffective onboarding process is at fault in 1 of every 6 top talent departures. Sela provides a chronological look at best practices and pro-tips for onboarding.

7) How to Use Social Media for Employee Onboarding

Summary: Using real examples, Matt Charney explains how to use social media to onboard employees from before they’re hired, during their first day and afterward. He presents social media as an innovative way to get to know your workplace, industry and team members through real life examples.

8) 4 Ingredients for the Perfect Employee Onboarding Process

Summary: Ben Plant presents onboarding as a mix of the right ingredients that lead to the recipe for the perfect onboarding process.

9) 5 Strategies for Employee Onboarding Success

Summary: An easy-to-follow infographic providing five strategies for onboarding success. The infographic is promoting a larger ebook of the same name, which you can download from the website.

10) Hire Wisdom: New Employee Onboarding – How to Hit the Ground Running

Summary: Ross Campbell provides a checklist for hiring managers looking to onboard employees. His three tips are setting them up on an administrative level fully prepared (ex. fully stocked desk), making them feel connected (through mentorship, opportunities and socialization with colleagues), and reiterating job expectations to ensure both employee and manager understand the process.

Does your company have a formal onboarding process? 

Posted by Ian Cameron

15 Oct 2015

Don't Let THIS Happen to You When Reference Checking

I want to tell you a story. It’s a story I was told by one of my clients about a nightmare scenario that unfolded for them because they didn’t check references properly on a new sales hire.  If you’ve ever skipped or skimped on checking references, I think you might reconsider that once you’ve heard what happen to my client.

reference checking McQuaig psychometric system


I was running a training session on how to get the most value of The McQuaig 3-Step Process and when I got into how the system helps with reference checking, my client volunteered a story about hiring a new senior sales representative. In this organization, as with many others, this is a very high profile role. In this particular case, the individual being hired would farm an existing territory of high-profile clients while also hunting for new business. Having the right person in a job like this can contribute to the company’s bottom line in a huge way. Having the wrong person, conversely, can be extraordinarily expensive.

As the interview process progressed, there was one candidate who stood out from the others. He was well-spoken, had an excellent presentation style and he was easy to get along with. On top of that, his resume told a story of a successful sales career with impressive financial accomplishments.

Another sales hiring manager once told me that, when interviewing candidates, he asks himself three questions: Do I like him/her? Do I trust him/her? Would I buy from him/her? Well, in this case all of those questions were answered with an enthusiastic YES!

An offer was made to this seemingly stellar candidate and, within two weeks, the individual had resigned from his old job and was ready to start in his new role. As an introduction to his client base, the vice president of Sales sent out an email to all clients advising them of the internal change and telling them that they would be contacted by their new rep in the coming weeks. They were excited to have this new addition to their team and they wanted to get him out in front of their customers!

Well, things didn’t go as planned. Within 24 hours of that introductory email being sent, the vice president of sales received four responses from important customer accounts stating that if this individual would be assigned to their accounts they planned to take their business elsewhere. This came as a complete shock, but the decision that needed to be made seemed obvious; the new star addition to the organization was let go within his first week.

What went wrong? The interview process was solid. The candidate had met with three different stakeholders in the organization on two separate occasions. He had completed the standard tried and true assessment tools that the organization relied on and he even had put together an impressive mock sales presentation. The one thing that was missing? No reference checks were completed.

It’s all too common for us to regard references as an administrative task that we complete only for the sake of compliance. It’s not unusual to seek out positive answers when we conduct them and sometimes to even disregard potential red flags. This can be very dangerous and it’s important to regard references as an essential data point in your interview process.

In the story I related above, the tangible costs were not enormous, but they could have been much higher. The cost to hire a new employee is estimated at about 46% of that individual’s first year salary - this figure captures ad costs, costs associated with the time that internal employees have invested in the process as well as costs associated with the “lost time” of the position being unfilled. In this case this cost likely would have been around the $35,000 mark. It could have been much higher had the mistake not been caught as early as it was. But there’s more to the story. What were the intangible costs of making this bad hire? How might this have affected the reputation that this organization held with their clients? And don’t forget about our candidate - he resigned from a position in order to accept this position. If references had been completed it’s highly likely that an offer would not have been made in the first place and this candidate would not be in this situation. When our candidates have a negative experience these days it can have an impact on our brand and the quality of candidates that we attract in the future. Social networking sites like Glassdoor make it very easy for individuals to share their experiences with a wide audience.

This story highlights the importance of conducting references. Remember that reference checks should not be conducted too early in the interview process because they’re time consuming, but you also don’t want to conduct them after you’ve already made a decision. The information that you gather from references should act as a data point in your decision making process. So how can we make sure we’re getting the most out of references? It’s really not that hard - just follow these basic tips!

1. Don’t settle: Talk to the RIGHT people

Your candidate will likely come to the interview with a list of people that he or she would like you to contact when you’re checking references. It’s very likely that these are the exact individuals that you want to speak with. If they’re not, don’t be afraid to ask for more references. You already ask strong behavioral-based questions in your interviews, and I hope you also ask strong probing questions. One of your probing questions whenever one of your candidates describes an achievement that impresses you should be “Who were you reporting to at that time?” If that individual is on your candidate’s list of references, great! If not follow up that question with: “Do you mind if I contact him/her”.

There are two purposes to doing this. First, in your interview, you’ll make it clear to your candidate that you’ll in fact be checking references and that you plan on confirming the information that they’re giving you. This will encourage a bit more transparency and honesty in the actual interview. I’m a fairly trusting person, so I’m not saying that all candidates lie, but some certainly will stretch the truth given the opportunity. The second reason you’re asking is so you can actually contact this person. When you speak with them you’ll plan on asking them about the specific accomplishment or scenario that the candidate just related to you.

2. Prepare: What to do before the reference check

Prior to conducting references, you want to make sure that you’ve informed your candidate that you will be contacting references. If you followed step 1 then your candidate already know this. Now make sure that for each reference being contacted you have reviewed the candidate’s resume and you understand the role that they played while with that company. With each reference you should review employment dates, job responsibilities as well as rehire status, but this is not where you’ll gain your most valuable information from the reference. That will come from a focus on:

  • Open ended questions: Avoid questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” and instead ask questions that require more of an explanation. Ask question that will require the reference to expand on the information requested.
  • Behavioral questions: All good interviewers know that they should ask behavior-based questions in the interview, but we often forget to do this when we check references. If you use the McQuaig Job Survey to benchmark your positions, there are some really great suggested reference questions contained in the report.
  • Red flags identified in the interview: Identify any areas where you received conflicting information from your candidate in the interview or areas where you want to gain some clarity and prepare some questions surrounding these items.

We all know how dangerous it can be to wing an interview and the same is true for a checking references. Make sure that you prepare all of your questions prior to picking up the phone - and yes, you need to pick up the phone! Written references will rarely include negative information.

3. Conduct the Reference Check

We want to be respectful of the time of other people and we also want to make sure that we maximize the value that we get from each interaction. So start off the call with an introduction and an expectation of how long you’ll need. Reschedule if necessary. Also, you must do your best to resist attempts to pass you onto human resources as they’ll likely not be able to give you the valuable information that you want.

Spend a moment to build some rapport with the person on the other end of the line before getting into your planned questions. If the person feels some sort of connection with you they will be much freer in providing you with information.

Once your reference interview begins make sure you listen! Don’t fall into a confirmation bias trap where you only hear the things that are said that serve to confirm what you already think about your candidate. Do not interrupt or lead the person on the other end of the phone. Allow them to speak freely and don’t be afraid to ask follow up and probing questions if they don’t give you the detailed response you were looking for.

And finally take notes! Your goal here is to gather information. Reserve any judgment for final step.

4. Review the information you gathered and make a decision

If you followed the above suggestions then you likely came away from your call with quite a bit of information. Your decision to hire will not be based solely on the reference, but as one data point. You’ll also consider the candidate’s skills, experience, assessments completed, etc.

In regards to the reference, evaluate the quality of information that you gathered (especially if there’s an impression that the reference was not being entirely transparent with you). Don’t be afraid to conduct more than the one or two checks. If you see inconsistencies, continue to ask questions until you’re comfortable that the inconsistency is resolved. Finally, make sure that the information received is weighted equally for all candidates - what disqualifies one candidate should also be the basis for disqualifying another.

It’s time to stop treating references as a chore and to start treating them as a priority and a source of rich information. When conducted properly, they can save us a lot of time, effort and money and avoid nightmare scenarios like the story I started with.

What tips do you have for making references more effective?

Posted by Venessa Vasilakeris

13 Jul 2015

Why the Netflix CEO says Interviews Don’t Work and What Does

In a recent article, Netflix founder Reed Hastings said he thinks that interviews don’t work for hiring. He, and the other hiring managers at Netflix, put their faith, and effort, in another recruiting technique that he can’t believe so many managers do wrong or completely skip.