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What Is the McQuaig Word Survey?

The McQuaig Word Survey is a brief computer-based personality test where candidates rank short statements by order of how accurately these statements describe them.

The test typically takes between 15 and 20 minutes to complete. There is no defined time constraint on the test,  but it is designed to be taken quickly, and the test software will be timing you. This is done as a way of urging you to answer intuitively, and without overthinking,

You will be presented with two sections, each composed of a set of questions. The first section asks you to describe how others perceive you - each question will require you to rank phrases based on how likely your coworkers and other acquaintances are to use them in describing you. The second section requires you to describe what you are really like – you will need to rate similar phrases, this time based on which are most compatible with your self-image.

On the real test, you will need to answer these questions by dragging and dropping the different phrases presented in the question so they end up in the order of your ranking.

  • Sample Question #1

 Rank these words or statements according to how you think other people see you in your current role:

will to win

liking people

safety first


  • Sample Question #2

 Rank these words or statements according to what you are really like

plenty of drive

fluent talker


easy on others


McQuaig Word Survey Reports

While it is often said there is no pass or fail grade in the McQuaig Word Survey, the test produces 10 reports that are used by the potential employer to evaluate the candidate. These reports provide information about key personality traits. They also provide advice to your interviewer regarding what questions to ask during the in-person interview as well as information that your future employer can continue referring to throughout your future career at the company.


The Profile
A graphical summary of the candidate’s expected behavioural patterns.


Interpretation Report
A report on the potential assets a person may bring to a job, along with possible areas for development or concern.


Leadership Profile
A summary of a person's likely behaviour in a leadership role. This report can be used if the person is applying for a leadership position or if he or she may be required to assume leadership responsibilities in the future.


Selling Style
This is a summary of a person's likely behaviour in a sales role. It should be used when a person is applying for a sales position or if he or she is expected to sell ideas/solutions or persuade others.


Interview Questions
This consists of behaviourally-based interview questions, which should be used in a later job interview to understand a person's past job behaviours as well as to help an employer predict the candidate's future behaviours on the job.


Assessment of Job Fit
This report is used to evaluate the match between the position and the candidate. In other words, your potential employer will decide whether to hire you based on this report.


Management Overview
This report will be used on a regular basis as a quick reminder of the employee's profile. This will follow the employee for a long time after they are hired.


Motivating Factors
This report is used to understand a candidate's needs in order to assess whether they are being met in the candidate's current job or if the candidate would meet the needs of the potential new role. This may be used by the employer when deciding whether to promote you in the future.


Strategies for Coaching and Developing
This report is used for guidance on how to work with the candidate effectively. It can also be used to measure an employer's expectations of the candidate.


Team Approach
This report should be used to see how well a candidate works as part of a team. 

 As you can see, even though there are no pass or fail grades, your results on the McQuaig Word Survey will not only help the employer determine whether you are a prudent hire, but may affect your entire career with that company moving forward.

Two Ways to Misunderstand

There are two ways in which candidates misunderstand the McQuaig Word Survey. If you want to succeed, you need to avoid both of these mistakes:

  • One is believing that there are “no right or wrong answers” in a personality test. This is revealed as untrue to keen observers – if there were no right or wrong answers, then the employer would not be wasting their money or time on the test. The test results will determine if you get hired at all, and later on the company you will work at will keep the results and refer to them in planning your training and future career with that company.
  • The other error is believing you “cannot prepare” for the McQuaig word Survey, because you “cannot study” for a personality test. The truth is, you can improve your results by practising, and by learning what personality traits are needed for the job you are applying for and what answers correspond to these traits. It should be made clear that this is not an encouragement to be insincere on your personality test. It is vital for both your and your employer's future satisfaction that your answers are honest and authentic. However, preparing can help you avoid common pitfalls that could prevent you from getting the job even though you are a good fit.

Practise Makes Perfect!

Sharpen your instincts and learn how to present yourself in the best way possible using our Personality Test PrepPack. Though it is not identical to the McQuaig Word Survey, it will teach you the fundamental and often overlooked principles to acing any personality assessment.

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