This Is How You Can Identify Motivated Job Candidates


As a team leader, it’s your responsibility to motivate your employees, at least to some degree. However, you have other tasks and duties you must attend to, so when you’re putting a team together or replacing an employee, you know how important it is to identify candidates who are capable of motivating themselves.

If you keep the following points in mind during the hiring phase, you’ll be more likely to identify candidates who can sustain a certain level of engagement without your help. Of course, you always need to remember your role in employee motivation: keeping your employees focused and engaged. Doing so is simply much easier when you hire employees who can motivate themselves.


Ask Them About Their Own Self-Development Endeavors

It’s very important to provide employees with frequent opportunities to develop their professional skills. Surveys indicate that ambitious job seekers tend to look at companies or organizations where they believe they will have opportunities to grow.

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Many ambitious people also take steps to improve themselves on their own. This can mean reading self-development and professional development books or taking continuing education courses. During the interview process, it’s a good idea to ask candidates about anything they do or have done in the past to may help themselves become more valuable and effective employees.

Although you do need to consider what you can do to help team members develop and flourish, many truly motivated people don’t wait for these opportunities to be presented. Instead, they create these opportunities for themselves.


Consider Their Work History

If you’re unsure about an applicant’s motivation, don’t make the mistake of ruling them out immediately. Many people are naturally motivated, even if it isn’t immediately apparent in a job interview.

When assessing a candidate’s motivation levels, consider their work history. Obviously, you want to review their history to ensure they have the necessary qualifications for the role they’re applying for, but you should also study the trajectory of the candidate’s tenure with former employers.

For instance, if a candidate seems to have a history of rising fast at most organizations they’ve worked for, it likely means they’re naturally ambitious and motivated to advance in their career. People who find ways to climb the ladder quickly tend to be intrinsically motivated to do so.


Ask about How They Dealt with Difficult Coworkers

It’s always smart to ask job candidates about instances in which they were forced to navigate a challenging situation with a coworker. You need your team members to be able to work together productively, so you need to find people who know how to address these struggles without allowing it to affect their own work performance.

This is particularly important when you’re seeking motivated candidates. After all, there is such a thing as unhealthy ambition. Some people are so competitive that they are willing to turn on others to achieve their own goals. These employees create a toxic atmosphere that burdens the entire team.


On the other hand, workers who are motivated for the right reasons want their entire team to thrive. They understand that regardless of how talented they may be, they’re more likely to achieve their career goals if their whole team succeeds.

Importantly, you don’t need to reject candidates outright if they don’t have a sufficient answer to this question. Some candidates may have limited work experience and haven’t encountered these types of struggles just yet. In general, however, it helps to know whether a candidate can handle team conflict maturely.


Ask about Recognition

You likely know that learning about a candidate’s past work accomplishments can offer you some very valuable insight—a resume alone won’t tell you everything you need to know about a candidate’s former on-the-job performance.

Just remember, when asking about these experiences, you should also ask about specific accolades and recognition they received from their superiors as a result of their performance. A candidate who is quick to offer examples of times when their employers praised them is probably being truthful; someone who struggles to answer this type of question may not be.