How to Hire for Motivation AND Competence

Hiring for Motivation AND Competence

Let’s be honest, every manager/owner/supervisor has made the mistake of hiring someone purely because of their motivation at some point or another. Although this seems like a great idea at the time, it isn’t long before their motivation starts to fade and there is no real substance behind it. For this reason, it is important to not only hire for motivation but to also look for competence too.

There is no denying the fact that motivation is important as it can have positive effects for the whole workforce but there still has to be a level of competence behind the motivation in order for them to be successful. So, how do you get behind the motivation and really find out what a candidate can offer you before making the mistake of hiring too early?

Defining The Role

Firstly, you have to summarize the role that the candidate will be stepping into and analyze the key skills that will be necessary if they are to succeed. For example, will they need to be able to work in a team? Will they need to work in a fast-paced industry? Will they need self-motivation and self-esteem? Whatever the role needs, write it down and keep it as a list for the interviews.

Can The Candidate Help You?

The second step is to find out whether each candidate can help with these skills; a good way to do this is to assess their previous employment because what you want to see demonstrated is how they have used and developed these skills in a different job. For example, if you are looking for someone who can work in a fast-paced environment where multi-tasking was a daily way of life, and your candidate excel in a similar role in an environment similar to yours, you will know that they are competent.

Digging Deeper into Motive

Many employers make the mistake of using the first interview to solely go over a candidate’s application but what use is this? You already have their credentials and employment history on their resume. When you interview you want to be delving and exploring into their why’s and digging deeper to find out more about the person’s actual motives around their experience and ability.

A good way to do this is to simply ask the candidate, “When have you gone above and beyond the call of duty without being asked?”.

What Happened? Who Was Involved? What Was the Outcome?

Their answers will show that they have the common sense and the competence (the key word) to move beyond their job description, and that they operate while also considering others on the team. Again, this is something that cannot be seen through an application alone. The more examples they think of, the more likely they are to do the same for your company and these – motivation, competence and team-orientation – are always great qualities to have in your business. If an employee goes above and beyond what they are supposed to do, it shows motivation and competence. And if they do this while putting the team first, you have the magic formula.

Making every hire count as if it’s your most important one.

Hiring mistakes cost your business thousands and thousands of hard cash dollars, not to mention the stress and headaches you and your staff have to put up with. Thoroughness during your screening and hiring procedures is essential to save you time, money and grief. If you use this principal of assessing competence, motivation and team, you will be able to lose the unsuitable candidates very quickly, leaving you with the best hiring options. If you have more than one candidate left, you can use 2nd and 3rd interviews to then delve even deeper into whether they will fit with your culture and team.


Barbara Ashton is President of Ashton & Associates Recruiting, BC’s #1 Executive Search Firm serving Southern Interior and Okanagan employers.

Phone: 800-432-6893

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