Why Recruiters Hunt for Inner Motivation

Personality, value, and capability testing has been used by EMA Partners International consultants for many years. Now the firm has developed its own proprietary tools for identifying the motivations of candidates.

March 31, 2021 – Is it the need for power and prestige that drives you in your career, or is it a passionate desire to change the world? People are different, and the things that make us perform at our best can also be varied, according to a new report by EMA Partners International’s Frode Pettersen. Located in Norway (Prime Executive AS), Mr. Pettersen has worked in executive search for 15 years. He has a passion for the profession and has been a driving force behind the development of methods to clarify and match candidates’ motivations with employers’ ability to satisfy them. “We have used personality, value, and capability testing for many years, but our experience was that these were insufficiently tailored to our need to identify and describe candidates’ motivations in a way that was relevant in an executive search context,” he said. “As a result, we had to develop our own proprietary tools for this purpose, based on accepted theoretical frameworks and empirical data.”

The search firm has carried out thousands of interviews with candidates for leadership and specialist positions, said Mr. Pettersen. “This means we are in possession of a very valuable empirical dataset in terms of what these people have indicated their own motivations are,” he said.

“Allow me to emphasize that this information is as a matter-of-course anonymized to preserve privacy,” he said. “We began by analyzing a large sample of interview records from within each category. This was, in itself, a challenging task but it paid dividends by providing us with an impressive overview of which motivational factors candidates had stated were the driving factors in their professional lives.”

To balance out any differences between those being interviewed for leadership roles and people being engaged for specialist positions, the firm examined an equal number in each category, Mr. Pettersen said. “That difference alone is fascinating. Following a process that incorporated evaluation, sorting, and categorization, we have assembled the key inner motivational factors that we uncovered in our sample spread across 12 dimensions. We have then developed support tools in relation to these that are used when analyzing the role with the employer, and during subsequent in-depth interviews with candidates.”

Theoretical Framework

Research examining happiness and motivation in professional life is nothing new. However, the development of a methodology and associated support tools to match candidates’ motivations with the capability of employers-to-be to satisfy them is in fact new.

Related: Talent Acquisition Success Factors in the Age of COVID-19

“The theoretical basis we use is particularly well illuminated by the capabilities outlined by professor Bard Kuvaas at the BI Norwegian Business School,” said Mr. Pettersen. “Studies examining internal and external motivational factors for employees in professional life show how people driven by internal motivation seem to succeed better over time than those who only have external motivations.”

Frode Pettersen is a founding partner EMA Partners International and has been in the recruitment industry for many years. His experiences also include sales executive positions in retail and travel organizations. Mr. Pettersen’s focus now is executive search for top management positions and key professionals within finance, FMCG/retail, telecom and IT.

The motivational dimension is naturally not an isolated component in the modern executive search process. “It supplements a thorough review of qualifications, skills and personal qualities,” Mr. Pettersen said. “Our hypothesis was that if we could be in a better position to discover a candidate’s true drivers and inner motivations, then the likelihood of a hired candidate’s long-term success in the role would also increase substantially.”

Since 1988, EMA Partners has partnered with multinational corporations, governments, and not-for-profit organizations across a variety of industry sectors and functional areas. It has more than 40 offices on six continents, and the firm continues to expand globally.

Related: Top Executive Habits to Help Get Ahead

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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