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3 Tips: How to Hire For Motivation

Debbie Madden
Apr 26, 2012

“Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least, experience. Without integrity, motivation is dangerous; without motivation, capacity is impotent; without capacity, understanding is limited; without understanding, knowledge is meaningless; without knowledge, experience is blind. Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to good use by people with all the other qualities.” - Dee Hock , founder and former CEO of VISA

Last month, I wrote on how to hire for Integrity, which remains my number one most important quality. Now, we’ll chat about motivation.

So, how does one hire for “motivation”. What does this even mean?

When I hire someone, my goal is to ultimately have that person super excited to show up for work on day one because they are so happy to be joining our team. To me, that’s the motivation I am looking for.

3 Tips on how to know if someone is Motivated to join your team:

1. This is cliché, but ask them why they want to work for your company. You’ll be amazed at the answers you get, I promise. In my experience, I have gotten largely honest answers to this question, which often directly contradict with showing me someone is motivated. If someone tells me that they want to write code, earn a paycheck and work in NYC, that does not convey specific motivation to work at Cyrus. If they say they specifically sought out Cyrus because they were impressed with XYZ, that tells me they are here for a purpose.

2. Have them define ‘meaningful work’. When someone believes the work they are doing is meaningful, they are intrinsically motivated to do that job well. If someone can’t talk about what type of work is truly meaningful to them, or if their answer doesn’t match the work you are offering them, they are not properly motivated to do the job.

3. Make sure they’ve done their homework and researched the company. If someone is interested in working specifically for your organization, they are going to take the time to learn something about it. Five minutes on the internet can give a candidate enough fodder to look like they have a wealth of knowledge, yet amazingly this does not always happen. One could argue that an inexperienced interviewee may not know any better and is truly motivated but didn’t realize she ought to research. I would argue back that those closest to college are the ones most on twitter and facebook and would have the most access to social media and your company information. If someone is truly motivated to work at a specific place, they will do a base level of research.

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