How to Assess Motivation in a Finance Job Interview


In a study conducted by Leadership IQ of 5427 hiring managers, motivation was the third most likely reason for the failure of new hires. And while the managers saw red flags during a finance interview, they were either too pressed for time, or doubtful about their own interview skills, to reject the candidate.

Motivation is defined as the grit and determination to succeed in a role.  With it playing such a critical part of a candidate’s ability to excel, hiring managers need to assess motivation in a finance job interview.  Here are some questions you can ask, so that you’re not returning to the hiring drawing board 3 months down the road.

Resource:  Read more about the study from Leadership IQ here.

The Resume
Before taking a candidate to the interview stage examine their resume carefully.  Look at their promotion history.  Do they show signs of progression?  Do they stay in roles for a long time, or do they have a tendency to jump from position to position?  If they change jobs frequently, is it for advancement purposes?  Examining a candidate’s employment history will give you a glimpse into their overall grit and determination.

Resource:  To learn about the best accounting and finance resumes we’ve ever received, click here.

Interview Questions
Question 1 – Tell me about a time you took a risk and failed, and one where you took a risk and succeeded. What was the difference?

The candidate should demonstrate self-awareness in their answer to this question. A strong candidate will be able to evaluate the choices they made that led to success and the behaviours resulted in failure.

Question 2 – What do you want from your career in the next 3 years?  How does this role make sense for you at this stage in your career?

Candidates with high levels of motivation often plan their next step.  They make purposeful choices to achieve their career objectives.  Fundamentally, you’re assessing initiative, personal motivation and professional development expectations in one fell swoop.

Question 3 – Tell me about a time you had to gain buy-in from a challenging team member?

Does the candidate acknowledge the importance of understanding a team member’s individual drivers when it comes to positioning information?  What steps did the candidate take to gain buy-in?  What obstacles did they overcome?  How motivated were they to connect with the team member and find common ground to achieve a goal?

Question 4 – Tell me about one of your proudest moments at work?  Outside of work?

A lot about a candidate’s motivation can be revealed by their answer to this question.  Why are they proud of that particular work success?  Did they have to overcome a particular challenge and pick themselves up after an initial setback?  Did they score a win for their organization that was of particular note?  The candidate’s response will tell you about their drive and even their preferred working style.

People who have a high degree of motivation show enthusiasm, grit and determination in their life outside of work – and when they have to work hard for something, they value that success even more.

Question 5 – How have you coped in the past when an event, or action of a person adversely affected your workplace motivation?

Is the candidate solutions-focused?  How do they respond to adversity?  Candidates who are resilient are much more likely to cope with challenges positively.  This question allows you to see a candidate’s problem-solving strategies as well.

Question 6 – In your previous work history which manager did you find the most motivating?  Why?

For obvious reasons, this question will help you understand if the candidate is a fit for your management style (if you’re the manager).  How someone likes to be managed is very revealing about their personal motivation.  Look for candidates who value autonomy, but can also collaborate and accept feedback.

Resource:  To get more interview questions, download this resource.

Key Takeaways
Past behavior is a great predictor of future behavior.  Take a look at someone’s resume.  Look for progression and promotion.  In the interview stage, ask questions that drill down into the candidate’s rationale for taking the role and the career choices they’ve made.  You’re looking for someone who shows high self-awareness in dealing with adversity and success.  Understand what type of management style motivates them to produce their best work and see if this aligns with current team practices.  Ultimately, while technical fit is important, it’s a poor predictor of a new hire’s success.  Motivation, on the other hand, is a key ingredient for why a new hire can be a difference maker for your organization, or a deal breaker.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

More from Clarity