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How to evaluate the motivation of a candidate?

How to evaluate the motivation of a candidate?

5 minutes

Sep 12, 2023

Written by Théo Janot

If it is clear that skills (hard or soft) and experience are very important before a recruitment, motivation is just as important. Indeed, no matter how competent a candidate is, if the motivation is not there, they will certainly be less productive and could even leave the company. This is why a bad recruitment can influence your turnover. On the other hand, a motivated candidate is more committed to their objectives, to their skills development and can even be a motivating factor for their colleagues.

Therefore, it is interesting to ask ourselves how we can evaluate the motivation of a candidate?


The motivation


But what is motivation? It is important to specify that there are 2 types, intrinsic and extrinsic. The first is the desire to succeed for oneself, while the second is the desire to succeed for others. These can be complementary when working in a team. Although, it can be even more difficult to determine it before a hiring.

Now, back to motivation in general, if the cover letter is a classic, more and more recruiters no longer ask for it... and for good reason: if it gives you a first impression, it is often universal and not very personalized. The ideal is, as for evaluating the potential of a candidate, to organize an interview (in video or in person). This is an essential part of the process.


1 - Identify strategic issues


Therefore, it is impossible to imagine an interview without questions. This is why we advise you to prepare them in advance. Be careful, however, to respect the privacy of individuals. So, what can you ask a profile, here are some examples:

  • What can you tell me about our company? The purpose of this question is to determine if they have done any research on the company prior to the interview.
  • What did you learn from the job description? The answer can show you if the candidate has taken into account the expected missions or other elements.
  • How do you see yourself in our company in 5 years? A profile that does not project itself within your organization in the future will rarely match your expectations.
  • What was the activity you enjoyed most/least in your last experience? This question can help you ensure that future day-to-day tasks will keep them motivated.
  • Why did you leave your previous position? Why do you want to leave your current position? The answer may assure you that the candidate has thought about their decision and does not intend to return to their previous job.
  • Why did you apply for our job offer? This information is essential, as it is at this point that the talent will really explain their motivations.

Asking strategic questions will help you make up your mind

The objective here is to determine their personality and to detect whether or not the candidate has researched the company prior to the interview to ensure that they truly want the job. In addition, when a candidate is genuinely interested, he will always tend to ask you questions to get more details.

However, it is not possible to be sure that everything they say is true. This is why you should not hesitate to address certain negative aspects of the position, such as the lack of means to meet the objective or the possibility of exceeding the legal working hours. Depending on the answers, it should be easier to evaluate the motivations. But this is not the only analysis that can be made.


2 - Analyze nonverbal communication


Indeed, the questions are only based on declarative information, but the human body also speaks about itself consciously and unconsciously. For example: a talent may indicate that he is energetic in his resume, but what is really going on? Analyzing his non-verbal language can give you an idea of the candidate's image, and even more so of his manners if he were to come into contact with clients. Focus on :

  • His gaze, do his eyes follow yours? Or do they avoid them?
  • His posture, does he stay straight or does he let himself go on the chair?
  • His attitude, is he really listening to you? Does he take notes?
  • His voice, what tone of voice does he use and at what volume does he speak to you?

4 things to pay attention to

Nevertheless, we must not lose sight of the fact that this method has its limits. Its reliability is limited since a job interview can be very stressful for the profile and on the other hand some people have excellent abilities to sell themselves. Perhaps as a recruiter, a more complete method should be put in place?


3 - Establish a demanding candidate path


As you can see, it is difficult to identify a candidate's motivation. If you have the means to do so, a significant element is to set up a demanding candidate process. That is to say, have one or two interviews, or even five, with different people in the company so that everyone can give a constructive opinion. Coupled with this, you can test your candidate with different tests.

For example, a work situation test. If you are recruiting a manager, put them in a realistic situation in their role. The aim here is to find out how they will behave with their future team. You will be able to determine whether they are a leader or not. A practical test can also be requested.

Another possible test is the assessment, a true tool of recruitment 3.0, it is a method of evaluating skills. In the form of a questionnaire, the candidates answer questions in order for the company to obtain results. However, most of them can seem time-consuming for some.



On the other hand, Yuzu offers you to immerse the profiles in different environments. Thanks to the video games, you will obtain real results on the soft-skills of the talents and thus a feedback on their potential. Moreover, you ensure that your candidate experience will be more pleasant. This will also influence your employer brand.

Be careful though, following all these tips to the letter makes your recruitment process particularly long. This is why you must make sure that it is the best possible experience and that it is consistent with the requirements of the targeted position. The risk here is to scare off profiles, whether they are good or not. Logically, a motivated talent will have more chances to accept them, which will prove the interest he has in joining your company.


4 - Paying attention to unsolicited applications


So far, we have been interested in determining a candidate's motivation once they have been selected for an interview. However, some people do not wait for a job offer to submit their application. Indeed, good communication does not only bring clients. That is why it is important to have an attractive and original recruitment in order to attract profiles that really appreciate your structure. We are obviously talking about unsolicited applications. These talents may not be the most competent but you cannot question their motivation. Moreover, this will improve your pool of candidates. 




Hiring a motivated candidate is a sign of confidence for the company, since they will certainly pursue a career there. This is why, even if recruitment is evolving every day, it must be as efficient as possible. This does not mean that the cover letter is a thing of the past, but it is only one tool among many others. You will need to define a more sophisticated process to find your A-players.

Thanks to this article, you have learned the different techniques to evaluate the motivation of a candidate during a recruitment process. The first one is to determine strategic questions during an interview, since without this, it would be impossible for you to learn more from a candidate. The second is to analyze their non-verbal communication, which could give you an even better idea of their personality. The third is to establish a demanding candidate path to ensure that you get the most motivated talent. Finally, the last one is to pay attention to unsolicited applications, since it is the profiles themselves that come to you to find a position.

Each of these methods has its pros and cons. It is important to take them into account and to think effectively about what can be put in place. Especially since they can be complementary. Nevertheless, you should not lose sight of the fact that it is you, as the recruiter, who will be in the best position to gauge this motivation. As a result, your recruitment will ensure the durability of your company.