20 Behavioral Interview Questions to Test If Job Candidates Have High Motivation

20 Behavioral Interview Questions to Test If Job Candidates Have High Motivation

Selecting the right interview questions plays a key factor in hiring the right people, as well as weeding out the bad apples.

By Marcel SchwantesPrincipal and founder, Leadership From the Core@MarcelSchwantes

CREDIT: Getty Images

Hiring managers spend countless, wasted hours, asking the wrong interview questions to determine the right job or culture fit in a candidate; many of them end up as mis-hires that hurt the bottom line.

What most managers don’t do is make the adjustment from typical interview questions like “Why should we hire you” to behavioral interview question that eliminate vagueness and get to the root of the answer they’re looking for. Let me explain.

The Premise of Behavioral Interviewing

Behavioral interviewing points to past performance as the best predictor of future performance. In essence, if you ask behavioral questions, you’re no longer asking questions that are hypothetical, but are asking questions that must be answered based upon fact.

The Difference: Instead of asking a candidate how he or she would behave in a particular situation, the hiring manager or interviewer will ask a job candidate to describe how he or she did behave.

The interviewer questions and probes (think of “peeling the layers from an onion”), asks for details, and will not allow a job candidate to theorize or generalize.

This gives hiring managers a clear edge; candidates may not get a chance to deliver any prepared stories or scripted answers.

20 Questions for Assessing Motivation

If your company values workers who have an entrepreneurial nature, take the initiative and have a can-do attitude, here are twenty behavioral interview questions that can draw revealing answers and get you on your way to finding employees with stellar motivation.

  1. At times your work load may feel unmanageable. Describe a time when you recognized that you were unable to meet multiple deadlines. What did you do about it?
  2. Tell us about an idea you started that involved collaboration with your colleagues that improved the business.
  3. When you had extra time available at your last job, describe ways you found to make your job more efficient.
  4. At times you may be asked to do many things at once. Tell me how you would decide what is most important and why.
  5. Tell me a time when you identified a problem with a process and what steps did you take to improve the problem?
  6. What processes or techniques have you learned to make a job easier, or to be more effective? What was your discovery process and how did you implement your idea?
  7. Give me an example of a new idea you suggested to your manager within the last six months. Describe steps you have taken to implement your idea.
  8. Tell me about a time when you went beyond your manager’s expectations in order to get the job done.
  9. Tell me about a time when you identified a new, unusual or different approach for addressing a problem or task.
  10. Describe a project or idea (not necessarily your own) that was implemented, or carried out successfully primarily because of your efforts.
  11. How do you react when faced with many hurdles while trying to achieve a goal? How do you overcome the hurdles?
  12. Everyone has good days and bad days at work. Take your time and think back to a really good day you had and tell me why it was a good day.
  13. How do you maintain self-motivation when you experience a setback on the way to achieve your goal? How do you do it?
  14. If you find yourself working with a team that is not motivated, how do you keep yourself motivated and motivate others?
  15. Describe the work environment or culture in which you are most productive and happy.
  16. Tell me about the job position that satisfied you the most. How about the least? What made each one more or less satisfying to you?
  17. What goals, including career goals, have you set for your life?
  18. Describe for me a situation where you had a positive effect on someone. What did you do? How did the other person react? Why do you think what happened, happened?
  19. What is your preferred work style? Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team? What percentage of your time would you allocate to each, given the choice?
  20. Describe the actions and behaviors of your current/former manager or supervisor that you respond to most effectively?

Bringing it home.

When you consider the answers you’re looking for about motivation, you are assessing several factors: What motivates your candidate? What is the work environment that he or she finds motivating? Is the work environment consistent with your job candidate’s needs to take the initiative and be a self-starter?

A candidate’s innate drive and tenacity needs to match the job for which he is selected. For example, you don’t want to hire a candidate who most enjoys working alone for your positions that require strong collaboration.

For the most part, you want to listen for those motivational cues that tell you the job candidate is about helping others, creating something, finishing something, doing whatever it takes to succeed and making the team better.


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