Measuring Candidate Motivation in the Interview
Newsletter volume 2 number 1
Our article How to Assess and Hire Top Engineers discusses some of the typical characteristics of bright, creative, obsessive people. One thing not mentioned, however, is that an inventive mind is often an absorbed and solitary one; artists of any type from poets to programmers tend to work alone.
What, then, would persuade an individual contributor to become part of a team? Essentially, it's a matter of mutual admiration; creative people are motivated to work on teams if they think that other team members are as smart as they are.
This fact throws new light on an old hiring rule-of-thumb. Most employers expect a candidate to have thoroughly researched a prospective company before an interview, and the amount of "homework" an applicant has done is used to measure motivation. But the truth is that top people are too busy for this kind of preparation. Instead, they come to an interview out of curiosity they are interested in learning what a particular organization does, what its people are like, and how it might challenge them.
In such cases, it is a real mistake to equate a lack of company knowledge with a lack of motivation. Focus instead on selling top candidates on the talent of the team they will join.