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TestGorilla’s hottest innovation: Measuring candidates’ job motivation


Have you already hired a candidate with brilliant skills and experience, only to see them underperform later because they weren’t truly motivated for the job?

Unfortunately, many hiring managers have, which is why when hiring someone, you should be looking for both “skill” and “will”: 

cartesian plane showing the soft spot in hiring candidates with the right combo of skill and will

You’ll want to hire a candidate who falls in the upper-right corner. 

Pre-employment assessments generally only measure the skill axis, so you won’t be able to use them to identify the most motivated candidates on your shortlist. Job motivation is incredibly difficult to predict — which is why there are so few motivation tests on the market. After all, everyone’s motivation will depend on different factors that aren’t obvious and easy to assess.

So, how can you evaluate candidates’ motivation during the hiring process? Is there a test that can help you predict who is likely to be highly motivated by the job you’re offering? Can you predict motivation reliably and build a team that excels?

Good news!

At TestGorilla, we’ve developed a Motivation test that you can use in recruitment to help you assess your applicants’ motivation and examine the different factors that are likely to influence them. This way, you can bring objectivity into your hiring process and see whether your candidates’ preferences match the characteristics of the role you’re looking to fill. 

In this article, we’ll give you more information on employee motivation and its importance in the workplace. We’ll also explain what our Motivation test does and how it can help you achieve better results and hire the most motivated talent.

Why is employee motivation important — and how can you measure job motivation in candidates? 

Employee motivation is the commitment, engagement, enthusiasm, and energy that every employee brings to the workplace. It’s the combination of effort, direction, and persistence that drives employees to pursue goals and succeed. 

Highly motivated employees help the whole team excel and achieve its goals consistently, which is why fostering motivation is critical to business success. Some of the benefits of a highly motivated workforce are:

benefits of a motivated workforce
  • Better employee performance

  • Improved quality of work

  • Reduced turnover, absenteeism, and lateness

  • Improved team morale

Additionally, job motivation can be seen as intrinsic or extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation is related to the individual’s behavior and personality traits, as well as their desire to perform well and their willingness to learn new skills, take on new responsibilities, and grow within the company. 

Intrinsic motivation comes from within but is also closely connected to the company culture (the company’s values, mission, and vision), as well as to the level of complexity and perceived meaningfulness of the role itself. 

If the employee shares the values of the company, they’ll likely feel more motivated at work, which will impact both their performance and their willingness to learn new skills. One of the best ways to assess someone’s culture add potential is with TestGorilla’s Culture Add test

In fact, employee motivation plays an important role in your organizational culture: Hiring a motivated workforce that is aligned with your values will help you maintain a strong company culture. 

Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation is related to the compensation and benefits your company provides and the specific rewards and recognition you give to your employees. 

You can use praise, performance bonuses, a comprehensive healthcare plan, shares in the company, gym subscriptions, and more as extrinsic motivational factors. While these are important (and help attract top talent), they cannot replace employees’ intrinsic motivation. 

So, how can you measure employee motivation before you hire someone and make sure you’re hiring a strongly engaged workforce?

The best way to measure job motivation is with TestGorilla’s Motivation test, a science-backed instrument you can use to effectively and efficiently predict job motivation across your entire applicant pool.

Even better, you can combine it with the “skills” dimension of candidate assessment, which makes it an incredibly powerful tool to use when making shortlisting and hiring decisions. 

What is TestGorilla’s Motivation test — and what makes it unique? 

TestGorilla’s Motivation test is designed to provide you with in-depth insights into how motivated a candidate is likely to be by a job. It allows you to compare applicants’ expected motivation and take it into account when making a hiring decision. 

How does the Motivation test help predict employee motivation?

TestGorilla’s Motivation test predicts motivation by comparing the key characteristics of a specific role and work environment against what candidates are seeking in their new job. 

The test is based on the Job Characteristics Model initially developed by organizational psychologists Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham. 

Hackman and Oldham’s model draws from the idea that job motivation is related to the nature of the job’s characteristics and to the tasks that the employee needs to complete on the job: Tasks that are sufficiently challenging, varied, and stimulating contribute to a high level of motivation.

Another key factor is whether the job itself provides information to the employee on their performance and how successful they are.

Their model predicts that employees have the greatest level of motivation when they reach three “critical psychological states”

  • Experiencing their work as meaningful

  • Seeing themselves as responsible for its outcomes

  • Knowing the results of their work 

The model also identifies a set of key moderators or factors that may increase or decrease an individual employee’s motivation. 

The Motivation test has a strong scientific basis and helps you predict job motivation with a high level of accuracy: Hackman and Oldham’s model has inspired over 200 published empirical studies and three comprehensive reviews.

The correlation between these critical psychological states, moderators, and job motivation has been extensively studied and validated in many of these studies.

In addition to measuring the critical psychological states and the moderators described by the job characteristics model, the test features questions about extrinsic factors, such as pay and time off, as well as questions about specific job activities.

How does the Motivation test work? 

The Motivation test is essentially a two-way test: The employer (you) and the applicant both have a role in it.

Both of you need to provide answers to a number of questions, and by comparing their answers, we predict the areas in which there will be a good fit and those in which there may be issues.

First, you need to create a profile of the role for which you’re hiring by answering questions across the four areas that are known to have an impact on motivation: 

  • The degree to which the role includes job characteristics that correlate with the three “critical psychological states” 

  • How key “moderators” that may increase or decrease an individual employee’s motivation surface in the role, such as opportunities for growth, pay, and security

  • Extrinsic factors of the role, such as part-time/full-time and the amount of time off

  • Job activities, which are given in word groups such as “Building – Developing – Architecting” and “Organizing – Classifying – Sorting” — you need to rate these activities on a scale of 0 to 4 based on their importance for the role 

These four categories create a robust profile of the job role, allowing for a high degree of reliability.

Candidates receive a parallel version of the survey that addresses the same topics. They are required to answer questions about how important each of these factors is to them and to indicate their preferences, like their desired pay and time off and whether they’d prefer to work part time or full time. 

On their end, candidates see the test as a Job Preferences survey, not a motivation test. This is to encourage them to express their honest preferences and needs and to indicate the factors that feel the most motivating to them. 

In the final section of the Motivation test, applicants select 10 work activities they like to spend their time on from the same (blank/unscored) list of job activities you completed. They don’t need to score or rank these activities.

We map the results of each candidate against your answers in each of these areas; the test assesses whether there’s a high level of alignment between the candidate and the role. Higher scores indicate a stronger alignment between the applicant and the job opening. 

Why should you use the Motivation test in your pre-employment assessment? 

Job motivation is complex — and also quite difficult to evaluate reliably. 

TestGorilla’s Motivation test focuses on key factors influencing job motivation, according to a wide body of scientific evidence. It brings objectivity and consistency into your assessment of how motivated a candidate is likely to be by the specific role for which you’re hiring.

Personality tests, questions about general job preferences, or interview questions designed to test how motivated candidates were in past situations are not reliable predictors of future motivation, as they don’t take into account the specifics of the role itself. 

In contrast, the results of our Motivation test will depend on the characteristics of the job itself, as defined by the employer, rather than on general ideas or principles or on the candidate’s personality. 

For this reason, our test allows you to identify candidates who will be motivated by the specific job for which you are hiring — and who will bring not only their skills and knowledge but also their interest in and passion for the job. 

Given that your main goal in using this test is to identify the candidates who are most aligned with what the job has to offer, we encourage you to be as precise as possible when filling out your part of the survey. If you exaggerate and make the job look more interesting than it really is, you risk having the “wrong” candidates rank the highest. 

Candidates are likely to provide honest answers to the test, as well: They’re answering questions about how important various aspects and activities of the job are to them. The role they are applying to is not mentioned within the test, and the test has a time limit, so they must make their selections quickly.

How should you use the Motivation test in your hiring process for best results?

The Motivation test is best used in combination with other pre-employment tests, such as cognitive ability tests, role-specific skills tests, and the Culture Add test. This way, you can get a complete overview of your candidates’:

You can combine up to five tests to create an assessment that you can then send to all candidates as a part of your screening process. 

We recommend that you administer the assessment early on in the hiring process in order to evaluate applicants’ skills and motivation, which will help you decide whom to interview. 

Using a pre-employment Motivation test helps you predict long-term employee motivation and success

The Motivation test will give you important information about your candidates’ motivation in relation to the particular role you’re looking to fill. This allows you to select the perfect fit for the role and hire someone who is likely to:

  • Stay with the company longer

  • Be driven to excel and grow

  • Motivate other team members

  • Have a strong desire to learn new skills 

  • Be open to taking on new challenges and responsibilities

Your hiring decisions shouldn’t be based exclusively on the results of the Motivation test, of course, but it’ll help you get an in-depth understanding of your candidates and their expected motivation for the role. 

In short, the Motivation test helps you determine whether your candidates are aligned with the job’s characteristics, predict their motivation, and assess their performance potential.

By combining this test with other skills assessments, you can identify candidates who are both highly skilled and highly motivated — in other words, those who are positioned in the upper-right corner on the “skill” and “will” graph shown above.

The enthusiasm, skills, and energy your employees bring to the table are invaluable in helping you build a strong company culture and achieve your performance goals. 

Try TestGorilla for free today.


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