How to Identify Motives in the Hiring Process

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I had the opportunity to interview Greg Smorzewski, HR Director for Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, who shared a simple way to identify candidate’s motives in the hiring process. Since he develops Community Hospital’s healthcare workforce, his answers focus on that industry but they’re relevant to hiring in other industries.

After 15 years in healthcare human resources, Greg Smorzewski’s speciality is “finding people who are getting into healthcare for the right reasons.” Smorzewski’s main goal as HR Director is “to create an environment that’s beneficial for patients and employees.” It’s essential, then, that he find candidates who get into healthcare for the right reasons. Not only candidates who will stick around (which helps the organization), but candidates who will do a great job for the patients (which helps everybody).

This is interesting to me since identifying the reasons someone is taking a job are so subjective. How do you identify someone’s motives? I wondered.

A Conversation with Greg Smorzewski

How do you find people who are getting into healthcare for the right reasons?

GS: It’s actually simpler than a lot of people would think. There’s a lot of different avenues to get there. You could do behavioral interviewing and you could ask a series of questions.

“I keep it very simple and ask people why they got the job.”

I do everything from a pretty simplistic standpoint and try to keep things very honest. Just that initial honest feedback that you get from an applicant is probably the best and most beneficial information you get from somebody.

What’s an example of the right answer to that question?

GS: I’ve heard a lot of right answers. The one that comes to the forefront is maybe they had a family member that they had to see go through the healthcare system. Or maybe they had a family member who was a part of the healthcare system. Or they just have a passion for helping people and they just understand the nature of this work—they just understand the nature of this work, not matter what job you’re in at any hospital, is taking care of patients.

What are your top 3 pieces of advice for other HR Directors?

GS: 1. Work hard and put structure into place.

Number one is the hard work. It’s building structure into how you do your recruiting, so you don’t come in to work not knowing what you’re going to do that day. Having structure of how you’re going to be sourcing candidates and the timing of how you’re going to be sourcing candidates, when you’re going to be interviewing candidates. With that structure, allows the ability to keep on top of all the different openings your recruiters are facing.

2. Use a wide variety of solutions.

I don’t think there’s a magic bullet out there. Using as many different solutions as possible is very helpful. For us, we use pretty much everything we can get our hands on…. You name it, we’re using it to try to find candidates. Getting that variety out there is extremely important.

3. Be lucky 🙂

Nuf said. Thanks Greg, for taking the time to talk.


My Reflections On Identifying Motives in the Hiring Process

Motives are a tricky thing, even within ourselves, let alone a professional environment where people’s future jobs are on the line. Yet, how important they are! The negative risk is being judgmental, but the opposite risk is equally to be avoided: to be naive during the hiring process. So when we talk about motives here, we’re not talking about judging someone’s character or whatever; we’re talking about their motives in relationship to jobs—the job they’re applying for in particular.

So Greg asks people why they wanted the job, he’s not trying to look deep into their soul. He’s just trying to gauge their gut-level response. It’s amazing how honesty comes out of those situations.

Two Practical Takeaways

For Candidates: Before your next interview answer honestly and clearly why you want the job. Then, whether or not the interviewer asks you, make it a point (if appropriate) to share your motives. This builds trust and may get you the job.

For Employers: Before your next interview with a candidate, make a list with two columns 1) bad motives for wanting this position and 2) good motives for wanting this position. That way you can more easily identify deal-breaker answers when you ask them “Why do you want this job?” Once they answer the question, see whether their answer matches closer to the “good motives” column. This is one data point for making a solid hiring decision and on-boarding your next great employee.

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  1. I think this is necessary for every employee who will stick around (which helps the organization), but also will do a great job for the clients or employer (which helps everybody). And I liked the TWO PRACTICAL TAKEAWAYS techniques you mentioned here. Really useful for hiring process. Keep sharing.


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