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The McQuaig Word Survey

The McQuaig Word Survey

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Personality tests can help hiring panels to determine what an applicant's temperament and personality are like.

For positions that rely on teamwork and leadership styles, these insights can tell recruiters far more about a candidate than a CV or resume ever could.

One of the leading personality tests is the McQuaig Word Survey Test.

What Is the McQuaig Word Survey Test?

The McQuaig Word Survey Test is a dedicated tool that is often used by recruiters to gain a deeper understanding of candidates.

It helps to showcase what their motivations are, what their personality is like and what their behavior could be like if they were offered a job role.

It is registered with the British Psychological Society and has been used for over 40 years.

Who Takes the McQuaig Word Survey Test?

The McQuaig Word Survey is used by employers to profile potential candidates as well as maintain the profiling of their existing staff members.

There are a variety of reasons why an employer may choose to implement McQuaig personality tests. These include:

  • Recruitment
  • Benchmarking
  • Behavioral interviews
  • Team bonding
  • Personal development
  • Succession planning

When used effectively, McQuaig Word Survey Tests have been proven to improve the interview experience, speed up the recruitment process and boost confidence in hiring decisions.

What Does the McQuaig Word Survey Test Assess?

The test assesses an applicant’s personality traits. It seeks to find out:

  • Core personality traits
  • Behavioral traits
  • Motivations
  • Morale levels

The analysis looks at what the applicant is currently doing and makes predictions based on potential future behaviors.

As well as providing hiring managers with insights into future employees, it can also be used by line managers to develop and manage teams more effectively.

What to Expect When Taking the McQuaig Word Survey Test

The McQuaig Word Survey Test consists of 42 questions, which are based around a set of words or phrases.

You’ll be asked to honestly assess how those words or phrases relate to you by ranking them in preference from most descriptive to least descriptive.

The test is an ipsative assessment. This means that there are four choices that applicants must choose from.

The test will take place online, you can expect to be sent a link to the test from the HR department at the prospective employer. This link will be sent through the McQuaig dashboard, meaning that results will be scored and assessed promptly.

The test will typically take between 10 to 20 minutes to complete, and there are no right or wrong answers. The test is merely seeking to identify your thought processes as well as your personality traits.

Responses to the McQuaig Word Survey can be used to assess whether the candidate is answering inconsistently and can determine whether they are being truthful.

It’s also possible to see if the respondent is answering questions differently to their natural behavior.

This means that recruiters can be provided with comprehensive data to help them with their decision making processes.

Example McQuaig Questions

In each group of four words, rank each based on the impression that other people have of you at work.

A = Strongly agree
B = Agree
C = Disagree
D = Strongly disagree



Now rank these on the same scale based on how you see yourself:



Example Answer

Every candidate will have different responses, but here is how an answer sheet might look:

The McQuaig Word Survey
The McQuaig Word Survey

How Are the McQuaig Word Survey Tests Analyzed?

The McQuaig Word Survey Profiles will not provide you with a specific score. Instead, the data will be analyzed to find out more about your personality.

Ten distinct reports are available which are broken down into three sections:

  • Understanding
  • Recruiting/Promoting
  • Managing/Coaching Tips


This element of the report looks at how the candidate behaves. It provides an effective insight for hiring managers to learn more about their minds and personality.

The specific reports within this section include:

  • The Profile. This is designed to be an overview of an applicant’s general behavior and insights. It will detail what their ‘normal’ behaviors are and highlight if there are any discrepancies or changes.

  • Interpretation Report. This looks at what a potential candidate could bring to a job role. It makes predictions on how they might behave. It will highlight that person’s positive assets as well as make note of any potential areas for improvement.

  • Leadership Profile. This report is particularly beneficial if an applicant is applying for a leadership role. It will look at how they are likely to behave and if they have the right personality traits for leadership responsibilities.

  • Selling Style. This is another useful report for hiring managers looking to recruit for sales personnel. It will showcase if the person can sell ideas and can also look into their persuasive capabilities.


The report will give a list of characteristics (both positive and negative) relating to the respondent as well as specific interview questions that can be used to find out more information regarding these traits.

The specific report within this section is:

Managing/Coaching Tips

This section is about how the participant responds to management strategies. It provides detailed insights into how the company can work to shape that person’s behavior.

It looks at the candidate's motivations and thought processes.

This report allows the recruiter to make predictions on how that person would behave within the workplace.

Under this section of the report, you can expect to find the following sub-reports:

  • Management Overview. This can be used as part of ongoing development activities. The report can be used to see whether an employee's profile is changing and to get an overview of their current capabilities.

  • Motivating Factors. This report helps a business discover what drives a candidate by providing insights into their specific motivations. Not only can it be used to determine if an existing employee's needs are being met, but it can also be used to establish if an applicant's needs will be met in a potential new job role.

  • Strategies for Coaching and Developing. The McQuaig Word Survey Profiles can be used as part of ongoing training and development for existing staff. This particular report will assess whether an individual’s expectations match the employer's. The information will provide a beneficial dataset that can help teams work more effectively.

  • Developmental Learning Style. Businesses may be allocated a set training budget to develop their staff. To ensure they make the most of their budget, companies will want to ensure that any training is aligned with staff members' distinct learning styles. This report will show how the respondent works and how they learn. The data can be used within a recruit’s initial induction phase to guarantee a smooth transition into their new role.

  • Team Approach. If a business relies on teamwork, then it will need evidence to showcase how a person works as part of a team. This is also a useful data tool to help businesses look at existing teams and establish the dynamics between each person.

Tips for Success

If you are asked to participate in a McQuaig Word Survey Profile, it’s important to know what to expect.

The trained assessors have conducted these tests for many years and will know how to spot the signs of those who are answering questions honestly, and those who are providing the answers they think the employer wants to hear.

Therefore, here are a few hints and tips for success when taking the McQuaig Word Survey Test:

Step 1. Read the Instructions and Trust Your Instincts

The first thing you should do with any question is to read it carefully and make sure you know what the question is asking.

If you are unsure, there will be a button at the bottom of the page for further advice.

Step 2. There Are No Wrong Answers

It may be tempting to indicate an answer that you think they are looking for but with thousands of test results behind them, the assessors will know whether you are answering the questions consistently.

There are no right or wrong answers, so you should answer the questions in line with your thoughts.

Step 3. Think About Your Timing

Although there is no specific time frame to complete the McQuaig Word Survey Profile, most candidates typically take between 10 to 20 minutes.

The assessors may lean towards those who complete quickly because it may indicate that the respondent has gone with their ‘gut’ feeling for the answers.

Step 4. Be Honest About Your Potential

Many of the questions will relate to your capabilities and expertise. You may be asked to rate yourself based on certain adjectives.

You may have the options, ‘Strongly Agree’, ‘Agree’, ‘Disagree’, ‘Strongly Disagree’.

It is thought to be best to steer clear of the ‘strong’ answers. This is because prospective employers will be looking for someone aware of their weaknesses.

They know that no candidate can be perfect, so they want to find someone honest about their potential.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, the McQuaig Word Survey Tests provide effective and reliable insights into candidates. They can be used by employers as part of a recruitment strategy as well as within existing training and development plans to maintain team dynamics and check for capabilities.

The validity of the word surveys (borne through more than 40 years’ experience) means that it’s possible to trust the tests and spot the signs when respondents are dishonest or answer inconsistently. This validity means that the overall report (and each subsequent sub-report) can be used effectively to improve recruitment and retention practices.

The quick nature of the online survey (at less than 20 minutes) means that it’s not time intensive or intrusive. However, respondents must trust their instincts and answer questions honestly.

If the analysis interpreters believe that you are answering your questions honestly, you will likely receive a higher score.

Employers know that there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ employee. They will be looking to see if you know your strengths and weaknesses, and they will use these insights to understand how you may fit in with the team and cultural ethos of the company.

The McQuaig Word Survey Test is incredibly powerful, and we can see how the data insights provided can make a huge difference in recruitment and retention campaigns.

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