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5 Interview Questions You Must Ask to Assess Motivational Fit

November 17, 2016

Motivational fit is an important part of any interview process. Without asking questions around motivational fit or job fit, you could miss key pieces of information about a candidate’s likes and dislikes in the workplace. After all, studies have shown that motivational fit is the single biggest predictor of absenteeism, turnover, and overall employee satisfaction.

As a trainer of Select Interviewing for over 10 years, I put a strong emphasis on this during trainings and make sure interviewers understand the impact of motivational fit on their hiring process.

Below are 5 motivational fit questions that you can use during your interview to better assess the motivational fit of your candidates.

1) What was the best job you ever had? What were your responsibilities? Why do you consider it your best job? Is there anything you didn’t like about it?

Through all of my years of interviewing, these continue to be my favorite interview questions. When asking a candidate about their best job, you should look for similarities between their favorite job and the job you have to offer them.

If the aspects of their favorite job are similar to what your job will provide, they are more likely to be a good fit for your position and be a happy and productive employee. Matching candidates’ likes and dislikes with what the position that is available is essential in measuring Motivational Fit.

2) Tell me about the job that you enjoyed the least? What were your responsibilities? What did you not like about it? Was there anything that you enjoyed about this position?

This is similar to the previous question, but asking about their least favorite position. This question will help you gather information about what the candidate may not have liked about a position. Asking interview questions where you are soliciting a negative response can sometimes be challenging, but this question is simply asking them about their least favorite role and not always perceived as a negative.

Most candidates can easily come up with a position that was not suited for them, even if they have to go back to early in their career. If they mention many job duties that they will have to perform in the role they are applying for, they may not be a good fit for the position.

3) What type of work environment to you work best in? Tell me about a time when you worked in this environment.

Work environment is important for job satisfaction in many roles. This may especially be true in a work environment where candidates are required to follow a very structured schedule or work in a highly scheduled environment.

A contact center environment comes to mind here. Most contact centers require employees to be on the phone for a certain about of time per shift and they have very specific goal and targets to meet. In this instance, it would be important that the candidate understands they will be working in a structured, monitored environment to enjoy working in a contact center. If they were looking for a role with more freedom in their work and flexibility in their schedule, this would likely not be a good motivational fit for them.

4) Describe your ideal supervisor? Tell me about a time when you worked for someone like this? What qualities do you not prefer in a supervisor?

Leadership is an important part of motivational fit. An employee could be great at their job tasks, responsibilities, and even enjoy their work environment, but if they are not compatible with their supervisor’s leadership style, they could experience some dissatisfaction in their job.

An employee that describes a hands-off supervisor who gives them freedom to make decisions and shape their job outcomes may not work well for someone who is highly involved and hands-on with their staff. Similarly, less experienced employees may need a more hands-on supervisor and placing them under the supervision of someone who is hands-off and provides a lot of autonomy for their staff may not set them up for success.

Matching a candidates’ desire for a specific leadership style with the leadership style of the supervisor they will be working for is key to ensuring their happiness and success in the role.

5) Describe a job where you performed in a similar capacity to the job here at ______. What did you like about it? What did you dislike about this type of work?

This question can be used in conjunction with a description of the available position. Once a candidate knows a bit about the role they are applying for, they can be asked to compare this to a past position. When asking about this previous position, be sure to ask them what they liked and disliked and compare that to what they will be required to do on the job. If they discuss specific job tasks, shifts, or work environment that they liked about that job, and you are offering those things as well, they are more likely to be satisfied in the position.

When measuring motivational fit through these types of questions, the interviewer has an important responsibility of matching the correct candidate to a position that they will be satisfied in. A candidate may have all of the desired requirements, education, and previous experience, but if they do not have a desire to do the job being offered, they will likely not be satisfied in the role and eventually leave.

When looking for long-term, satisfied employees who are going to contribute to your organization, motivational fit is essential to finding top performing employees.

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Megan Why Megan Why is a Consultant located in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. Her areas of expertise include: workplace safety, interview training, and pre-employment selection assessments.