Everyone wants to hire motivated people, but few individuals are self-motivated to do every type work for every type of manager in every type of business situations. Over the years, I’ve discovered that it’s better to first discover what drives self-motivation rather than look for self-motivated people.
A story from long ago sets the foundation for this conclusion. It happened when I was a rookie engineer working on missile guidance systems. The 20 or so other engineers on the same project thought the work was mundane and put in the requisite eight hours and 15 minutes per day. However, they all told me that in their prior jobs they had been going 24/7 doing essentially the same work. The only difference was the project. Their earlier work was on President Kennedy’s moon landing program. For them, and the thousands like them, that work was inspirational. The current work, although essentially the same, had no grand purpose.
This was my first big lesson about motivation. As a driver of motivation and job satisfaction, the impact of the work is often far more important than the actual work.
Over the next few years, as I started interviewing people, I learned some other important lessons about motivation:
- Motivation to get the job is not the same as motivation to do the job.
- Introverted people can be just as motivated as extroverted people.
- Being prepared and on time for an interview offers no clue to motivation.
- On the job, people seek out work they like to do and avoid work they don’t like to do.
Over the years, these lessons have been incorporated into the performance-based hiring process underlying my company’s recruiter and hiring-manager interview training programs. Here’s a summary of the process.
Using Performance-Based Hiring to Identify Highly Motivated People
Clarify expectations up front. Define the work you need done before you start interviewing candidates. Every job can be defined by six to eight performance objectives. This is called a performance-based job description. A reliance on a traditional skills-infested job descriptions increases the chance you’ll hire someone less motivated to the do the work if that person finds the actual job uninteresting. (Here’s the legal justification for using performance-based job descriptions.)
Get examples of comparable accomplishments. For each performance objective listed in the performance-based job description, ask the candidate to describe a comparable accomplishment. The Most Important Interview Question of All Time describes the process. This reveals the types of work the candidate finds most motivating. (The full approach is described in The Essential Guide for Hiring