How Motivation-Based Interviewing can help you find the Right Employees

Posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2022 by Graham Quinn

Hiring is one of the most important tasks a manager will have to do. A company can only perform as well as the people it employs, therefore the effectiveness of interviewing is vital. Yet managers are rarely given interview training. Many companies even fail to track the ability of their interview process to find quality hires.   

As the search for talent becomes more difficult, many companies are reacting by making their selection processes more complex. However, more complex processes mean rising costs. Also, increasing the length of the interview process can mean losing out on the best candidates as they don’t need to wait around for an offer.

Motivation-based interviewing (MBI) can help recruiters get around this. Using the techniques takes no longer than a traditional interview. We explain why using motivational techniques enables interviewers to be more effective in selection, improving retention whilst avoiding a lengthy recruitment process.


What is Motivation Based Interviewing?


Motivation-based interviewing is a globally used method that is simple, yet very effective for identifying quality candidates. Created by keynote speaker and best-selling author Carol Quinn, it differs from traditional recruiting as it gives candidates an opportunity to show what really motivates them.


How Can it Help make Better Hires?


Traditionally, hiring decisions are based on skill.  However, to give great value, employees also need the self-motivation to seek ways of making progress. Giving candidates a chance to talk about how they make an impact at work is a much better indicator of motivation than responding to skill-based questions.

Interviewer Trainers Hire Authority use this metaphor to explain it. ‘Think of skill as being analogous to a car. Think of motivation as its fuel. A car without fuel runs great...but only going downhill.’

Also, when candidates have plenty of experience of traditional interviews, they often learn to say what the interviewer wants to hear. Motivation based interviewing helps separate those who interview well from genuine high performers as it requires candidates to give examples of their passions and attitude.

What are the Basic Techniques?

In MBI, interviewers assess the three components of high performers: attitude, skill, and passion. While most candidates will have the skills they need for the job, the right attitude and passion suggest they’ll give a good return on investment.


In her book, Motivation-Based Interviewing, author Carol Quinn explains the importance of giving the candidate time to relax before beginning questioning. ‘The way the interview begins can have a dramatic effect on information gathering and on the entire interview.’ The environment of interviews can make candidates feel on the defensive, but ‘when there are no reasons for apprehension’ rapport can develop which encourages candidates to be more open and honest. Starting off with small talk is an effective way to make candidates feel more relaxed.


Carol also recommends not using confidence or body language as a method of evaluation. ‘Each candidate comes to the interview with a different comfort level. Don't make the mistake of assuming that the most confident one will necessarily do the best job. High performers can feel just as nervous as anyone else.’


What Questions should I be Asking?

The questions below give an idea of the type of information to be gathered. However, assessing the information and how it’s delivered allows you gauge whether the candidate is giving an accurate representation of themselves.


1. Why are you interested in working at this organisation?


Someone with real interest in the role will have researched the company’s values and will be able to offer examples of how they align with their own. They should also show an understanding of the company’s goals and how they could help you to reach them.


2. What’s your understanding of the role and why are you interested?


This helps the interviewer find out if the candidate and employer are on the same page. If the candidate hasn’t identified what you are looking for, being clear about this helps avoid the costly mistake of hiring someone with the wrong expectations.


3. Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work, and how you addressed it


Asking a candidate to describe how they dealt with a mistake gives you a more reliable insight into their attitude than asking about something that went well.


4. What aspect of your current role do you love the most?


This will help you discover whether the candidate will be genuinely interested in what you have to offer. When a candidate is already passionate about an important aspect of the role this suggests they are likely to enjoy it and thrive.


5. Tell me about a time when you felt proud of your work and why.


This is less about the importance of a specific achievement but why they feel proud of it. Listen for why they feel they made a difference to the organisation. This will show you what quality they feel makes them special as an employee. If this is aligned with your team and company culture it suggests the candidate will be a good match.


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