Win the Battle for Talent – Part 4: Spot the Self-Motivated Job Candidate

This is the fourth in a series of five posts on winning the battle for talent.


When hiring employees, you want to interview self-motivated candidates. Hiring such a candidate means they make productive use of their time, require less supervision and typically become top performers. Here are seven ways to spot the self-motivated job candidate.

Clarify Job Expectations

Include six to eight performance objectives. Candidates who reply to a performance-based posting are more likely to complete their work each day than candidates who reply to a skills-based posting, as they often become less motivated to complete their work when they find it uninteresting.

Study Work History

Research the information on each candidate’s resume to determine their work history. Find out whether they stayed with one company long term, are often promoted, have been rehired by an employer or recruited from outside the organization. A self-motivated candidate is in high demand and has many opportunities available to them.

Ask About Accomplishments

Using the performance objectives in your job posting, ask each candidate to describe a comparable accomplishment. Continue asking questions to find examples of when the candidate took the initiative to go beyond what was asked of them. Uncover whether the candidate was recognized for their accomplishments and are good at what they do. Establish a pattern for what types of work the candidate finds most motivating, and compare it to what you need done. Determine which types of work the candidate finds most motivating and whether they’re right for the role.

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Learn About Outside Interests

A self-motivated candidate is engaged in life beyond the office. A self-motivated candidate remains engaged with current events, reading and personal development. They may run marathons, learn a new language or start a community initiative.

Talk About Failures

A self-motivated candidate is resilient and self-aware. They remain positive and focused when overcoming obstacles. Determine what the candidate learned from their experiences and how they changed their approach to solving problems.

Contact References

Having references talk candidly about the candidate will give additional insight into whether they’re a fit for the role. Use LinkedIn or other social media to connect. Ask about the candidate’s motivation on a scale of 1-5.

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