Being on the hiring side of the interview process helped senior Duncan McLean understand what employers will be looking for once he starts applying for jobs after graduation.

“I was able to gain a better understanding of how to succeed in interviews,” he said. “I think the most important things you can do are to make a good impression, and to try to understand specifically what a company is looking for in its candidates.”

During his summer internship, McLean worked in sales and marketing with Monument Consulting, a human resources consulting firm in Richmond, Va. The internship allowed him to use the skills he had learned as a leadership studies major and business administration minor.

He was able to serve as a consultant on a fast-paced hiring project, where he said he had the chance to conduct brief first-round interviews.

McLean said his experience with Monument “was a reminder of how important followers are. Often times, leaders get too much credit and too much blame. Followers are an essential part of leadership and cultivating a functional relationship with followers has to be a leader’s top priority.”

McLean, who is also a scholar athlete on the University of Richmond’s men’s basketball team, has played the sport ever since he was a first-year student. “Playing basketball at Richmond has been one of the most fulfilling and educational experiences of my life,” he said. “I have been challenged mentally and physically on a daily basis.”

The team struggled to win during his first two seasons, but McLean said he saw this struggle as integral to his personal growth. “Basketball has taught me how to respond to failure on both the personal, and group levels,” he said. “Now that we are experiencing success I am confident that I can deal with the hardships and difficulties that are sure to await me in the working world.”

He attributed the team’s eventual success to his coach’s leadership and the players’ ability to care for each other and meet common goals.
This realization carried into his internship. McLean realized the importance of emotional intelligence and people skills, and said that he noticed the talents of the leaders and followers at Monument allowed for easy communication and highly functional teamwork.

“Leaders communicated on a personal level with all employees and motivation occurred from the top down,” he said.

McLean was part of a project where members from Monument surveyed more than 1,500 people from some 500 companies in the Southeast to identify common hiring problems in the marketplace. The survey results, showed that the greatest hiring challenges were supply of qualified candidates, the timeliness for positions to be filled and the cost associated with talent acquisition.

Monument helped clients address the problems their companies were having because its consultants specialized in sourcing for candidates, screening for quality and effectively deciding on the right fit, though a systematic interview process and a seamless understanding of their clients work environment.

“Duncan has a very subtle mind,” said Terry L. Price, associate dean for academic affairs and associate professor of leadership studies. “I had him in 'Ethical Decision Making in Healthcare' and in 'Leadership Ethics.' He’s always thinking and integrating the material. He’s very systematic.”

Matt Aprahamian, one of McLean’s supervisors at Monument, said: “At a critical point in Duncan’s research project he was asked to deliver an update of his progress. It just so happened that one of our Board Members was in town that day and sat in on the presentation.  

“Duncan was cool and confident. He delivered a first-rate report, leading our Board Member to compliment our team on his project and our selection of ‘the best intern he’d ever met’.” 

McClean’s life ambition, he said, is to use his creative thinking and interpersonal skills to bring enthusiasm and innovation to whatever he does. After graduation, he said he hoped to work in marketing or consulting.

Posted: Fall 2008