How to determine motivation when interviewing

We know through experience that interviewers find it relatively easy to assess a candidate’s skills, education, experience and culture fit. However, assessing someone’s motivation can be a bit harder. Here we look at why it can be difficult and some of the things you can do to really determine a candidate’s motivation.

Why it can be difficult

Candidates can get extremely good at interviewing. To be fair to them they have been asked questions about their motivation every time they are interviewed.

Interviewers also suffer from what we call ‘perception bias’. This is happens when we take an immediate liking to a candidate and from that point we seek answers that support our initial perception.

How can you determine a candidate’s motivation

History of promotions

Look for a history of promotions. Did they stay in a role long for a long time? Were they promoted from that role? If they did change roles was the change for a promotions? You need to understand their history and what actually happened at each stage.

Ask the candidate what they believe motivates their peers

When you ask a candidate about what they believe motivates someone you will discover what is important to them. You will also learn a lot about how the candidate will fit into your workplace culture.

What they’re interested in

Motivated people are active across their complete life not just at work. Explore the things they do outside of work. Look for examples where they have started something, shown initiative and developing themselves.

Explore failure

Motivation is linked to being resilient. Failure is fine. Explore what they have learnt. How they have grown. How they have changed.

Watch their body language

We know that so much more is communicated by how you answer a question rather than what you are saying. Are they enthusiastic? What is their voice telling you? Are they using the space around them to their advantage?

Go beyond the references supplied by the candidate

We now live in a workplace where it is quite easy to find people that have worked with the candidate. In fact you are likely to know many of them. Using social media tools such as LinkedIn can be helpful.

If you would like to know more talk to us at

Share Button

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *