Historically, when writing job descriptions and person specifications and interviewing candidates we have always concentrated on the skills, knowledge and experience and their fit within a team. Many people also use personality tests as another way to understand candidates – however, it isn’t our personality that gets us out of bed in the morning – it is our motivation!

Why is considering motivation so important when recruiting?

What is so important is to consider what motivates an individual. Whether someone is motivated by friendships at work, having a role which is routine and task-driven or whether they will have the opportunity to use their creative, problem-solving skills is crucial.

If you are looking for someone to lead the team a high Director motivator (Seeks power, influence, control of people and/or resources) is extremely useful. If you want someone who will implement change and bring new ideas the Creator motivator is important (Seeks innovation, identification with new, expressing creative potential) and if you want someone who is organised and likes routine a high Defender motivator is important. For sales roles, people with a high Builder motivator (Seeks money, material satisfactions, above average living) and often a high Friend (Seeks belonging, friendship and fulfilling relationships) is important. These are just a few examples of the way in which our intrinsic motivation supports the way we work.

It is important to consider which Motivators are important for the role before you start the recruitment campaign – You can then write the job spec and the advert to appeal to people with motivators that will be good for the role and also complement the team and fit well with the organisation.

How many motivators are there?

Everyone has 9 different motivators – these motivators differ in their importance to us at different times in our life.

Our intrinsic motivators

Our motivators have an impact on our attitude to risk, change and our focus.

How do we find out what motivates individuals?


By listening to candidate’s you can start to identify their motivators. Their answer to the questions will give you an indicator of the motivators.

  • What attracted you to apply for this role?
  • What are you looking for in this role that you haven’t had in previous roles?

Defenders – will be looking for a role where they can use their organisational skills, They may be looking for another role due to changes being made in their current organisation

Friends – will talk about the importance of building good relationships and be interested in finding out about the social aspects of the role.

Stars – are the candidates who shine at interviews! Interviews are all about talking about (marketing) yourself and people with strong star motivators enjoy doing this.

Directors – will have a clear idea of where this role fits in with their career plan. They will talk about the opportunities for developing themselves and taking on more responsibilities

Builders – will be interested in how the role will reward them financially, they will be interested in working in a competitive environment with clear goals and targets

Experts – will talk about having opportunities to learn, be interested in specialising in areas of interest, and want to know what opportunities there will be to develop and share their expertise.

Creators – value having an environment with change & variety.  They will be looking for the opportunity to solve problems, and be original.  They also like creating something new or improving things.

Searchers – value will talk about having meaning & purpose in what they do.  They enjoy doing significant & important work, seeing that they are making a difference.  They see the big picture and enjoy being listened to / consulted.  They need change & variety.


It is important to remember and recognise that candidates may, for example, be very good at doing something but that may not be what really motivates them. We all have things that we are good at but we don’t particularly enjoy doing.

It is also important to remember that most people will have more than one motivator that is important to them.

Even when asked directly, it is often difficult for us to identify what it is that drives us. To easily and accurately find out what motivates someone you can use an online tool called a Motivational Map®. The Maps provide a unique system to enable leaders and staff to understand and maximise motivation, engagement and performance. The maps are a very simple, cost-effective, tool which enables you to identify how to manage individuals to maximise their motivation and engagement at work.

The information gained about the successful candidate can be used as part of their induction plan to ensure they are supported in the right way. Sending the reports to unsuccessful candidates helps them with their job search as is also a way to thank them for the work they put in preparing for and attending the interview.

Contact us to find out more.