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We changed what we look for in a new hire at MA

16 September

Montreal Careers - We changed what we look for in a new hire at MA


Way, way back in time when I was a baby recruiter, I inherited a client who was obsessed with skill sets, ‘here’s a list of ten different things I want you to find for me – and they’re all essential’ he’d say to me. I’d find the candidate, they’d interview, hire and three months later the candidate would be back on the market.

And I wasn’t the first recruiter this had happened to; my predecessor had left me two roles to backfill for the client that had had the same response! I went down to see the client armed with research that showed skill set was a thing of the past, that cultural and motivational fit were what counted if you wanted to retain your people, in fact under hire against skill and train your candidate in what was missing and you’d retain your new hire for even longer.

Lo and behold when the next candidate was placed after focusing on culture and candidate motivation, they stayed and were still there when I moved on.

Twenty years later and we still see the same thing, time and again employers are focusing on skills, knowledge and education.

So how do we do things?

First stage: Good cultural and values fit before perfect skills

At MA, we’ve turned our recruitment process on its head: We focus first on cultural fit; the way we communicate, our values, how we manage performance, how we incentivise and reward success. We then focus on a candidate’s motivations, what they want to achieve, the flexibility they need, money they want to earn, career goals and objectives and most importantly of all, the way they work, how they like to be managed and the things they like to do.

If a candidate has the cultural fit and the motivational fit (i.e. we can provide the things that they want in an environment they want to be in), we then look at the skill set. And even then, it’s not a check list of skills and knowledge we need them to have, instead we look at where we can support their development. What are the transferable skills and more importantly where there are gaps, how can we use our excellent L&D team to fill them?

Second and Third Stage: Skills and Emotional Intelligence

We’ve also removed the CV from the first half of our process. Only once a candidate is at the second stage of our process (there are three stages – Preferences, Culture & Values; Skills & Competencies; and Emotional Intelligence & Final questions) do managers get to see a candidate’s work history. Not only does this focus us on the aspects of a candidate that really count when it comes to retention and performance – the ‘MA fit’, it also removes the chance of unconscious bias stopping someone getting an interview. We’re already seeing that giving someone the chance to show you who they are, challenges our preconceived ideas of what makes a recruiter.


So, if you’re thinking of joining MA and are invited to an interview, be ready to bring your real self into the room. After all, a ‘fit’ is a two-way street: we need to be the company you want to be at, just as much as you will be the candidate we want to hire if you’re going to have an amazing MA career with us.

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