How to spot a motivated job candidate

Nowadays the business world is highly competitive and there is no shortage of talent for various job roles. The question is: How much does a CV really reveal about a job candidate’s level of motivation? A Hiring Manager would have to meet or talk to the jobseeker in order to find out. I would like to share some of the strategies that you can apply when faced with this challenge: 

# 1 - Ask behaviour-based questions on MOTIVATION.

Asking behaviour-based questions seems to be an effective way to find out about a person’s motivation. It reflects past behaviour and helps to make future predictions. Some questions you might want to consider are: 

  • What motivates you to work hard? Give me some examples.
  • Tell me about some recent responsibilities you have taken on. Was this your own idea? 
  • Can you tell me about a time when you took on responsibilities outside your job description? Why did you do that? 
  • Why did you choose this type of work? 
  • When did you love what you were doing? Can you give me a specific example?
  • What gave you the greatest feeling of achievement in your job at company xyz? Why was this so satisfying? 

# 2 - Pay attention to body language and spoken words. 

If a person’s positive body language and spoken words are in sync you know that you are dealing with a motivated candidate. Bear in mind that a person’s body language will reveal what one really thinks, while the spoken words might not tell the truth. Thus, the better you know how to interpret other peoples’ body language gestures the better. I hired once a candidate over someone else because he had this certain “sparkle” in his eyes that told me that this candidate is simply more motivated, enthusiastic and passionate about this job. It is therefore important to focus on how confident and positive the person talks, looks and acts. 

# 3 - Ask the “Proactive” question.

You could ask the following question: “Assume we will offer you the job, what would you do on your first day at work?” It will tell you three things: 1) how keen the person is on that particular job, 2) to what extent s/he has already visualised having that job and 3) how proactive and how much initiative the person would take without being told what to do. 

# 4 - Bring YOUR PERSONAL OBJECT along. 

Why not asking every job candidate to bring an object to the interview that reflects their personality? Have a look at this video in which you will see how a female recruiter challenged her interviewees.

# 5 - Ask to work on some tasks before the job starts.     

Every time I was looking for candidates with a high level of self-motivation I used to ask them if they would be prepared to do some work before they started their new job. For example, reading through some corporate material, thinking about some strategies or ideas how to tackle certain issues, doing some specific research etc. The reaction to this question (again - in facial expressions and spoken words) gave me always a good idea about the jobseeker’s interest, motivation and passion. You can use this question to test a person’s reaction or to really let them do some tasks before they actually start. Another similar approach was the question “Let’s assume you would not have any money issues. Would you do this job also if the company would not pay you for it?” The answer to this question will tell you what matters the most to that person, money or a great job. 

Remember that you might have lined up a lot of candidates who have the knowledge, skills, experience and performance traits to be successful in a particular job, but there will be differences on what energizes and motivates them on the job. Consider it as your challenge to find out what stimulates them by applying your own strategy.

Karin Schroeck-Singh
Karin Schroeck-Singh is a passionate Public Speaker, eBook Author, and a freelancing Online Content Producer. She has an MBA from the University of Leicester (UK) and gained 18 years of international work experience in Italy, the UK and India.