Motivation: what candidates really want


It is very important for our agency to make a client and a candidate have a long-term productive alliance, therefore we pay great attention not only to technical screening, but also to motivational block during an interview.

In 2021 Avarn interviewed 9,492 developers for middle, senior, and lead positions. Each candidate was asked 20 questions regarding various aspects of his/her motivation.

In addition to that, 1,998 candidates that we found in 2021 received offers from our clients, and an additional motivational conversation was held with each candidate at the stage of deciding on the proposal.

We would like to share with you our observations: what types of motivation you may encounter and how you can use this information when presenting your proposal and assessing the risks of rejection. Because you don’t need to “square the circle,” you need to understand what the candidate wants and emphasize the benefits of your offer just for him/her.

- There are 2 types of motivation — achievement motivation and avoidance motivation, which are fundamentally different from each other;

- A candidate’s choice is based on expectation, and the emotional component is more important than the rational component;

- Hence, a recruiter’s goal is to figure out Motives and create Expectations;

- We should use emotional tricks — a delighted recruiter sells better;

- Don’t express your own doubts and don’t devalue candidates’ motives. No matter how strange and unexpected things a candidate can say, don’t tell them that this is absolute nonsense, and you hope that he/she is joking.
Let’s look at the most popular motives and methods of working with them.

Motive: Avoiding conflicts

Description: the motive of “moving from”, avoiding something: a candidate has a conflict with the team or more often with management, which makes it uncomfortable to stay in the company. The reasons could be both the candidate himself or the management as well. Moving to another company satisfies the candidate’s need and solves this problem (but often temporarily).

Solution: When you offer jobs to this type of candidate, you should talk about the impossibility of correcting the situation in the current company and that everything will be fine at another place and will work in a different way.

Motive: Desire to be a creator

Description: a candidate feels cramped in current processes. He/she has strong creative impulses, the ambition to do it himself / his own way / start from scratch.


- Craving for self-realization / recognition / creativity;

- Such people are more likely to work in startups. When you offer a vacancy, you need to focus on the candidate’s area of ​​responsibility, the novelty of the project, the open field of work, the ability to influence key decisions — so that later he/she could feel that it was THEM who actually did it;

- You need to have a prepared story about the scope of the project, his/her ambitions at this project, and mention that it will be exactly HIM/HER who will be the key creator.

Motive: Desire to be the Chief/Leader

Description: The motive of power, recognition and respect. Desire to be a team leader.


When you offer a vacancy, it is worth talking about career growth — along with having some relevant examples of such growth;
If you need to compare one offer with another, you should focus both on the size of a company and on the growth rate of this company (whichever is more impressive). Even if you offer a non-team lead position, you need to create an expectation that the candidate will get a promotion in a clear future, and it’s more likely to happen in this very company than in the others.

Motive: Desire to be a part of something cool

Description: Candidates who are passionate about company brands. They prefer big or famous companies, or companies whose employees are considered cool — just because of the belief that being close to such employees and their experience will change these candidates, and they’ll become cool too.


- Motivated to “be part of success”, learning and development.

- When you offer a job, you should talk about the “cool side” of the company and its success on the market.

- This type of candidate is most susceptible to emotional choice and prone to choose emotionally rather than rationally.

- This motive is often found among candidates who decide to move abroad, however it’s a country, not the company, that has an emotional effect in this case.

Motive: Willing to do something useful

Description: What’s important here is the social value of the final product.

Solution: It is important to have a story about the impact of the company’s products on the lives of a large number of people. Even a complex logical chain is better than nothing.

Motive: Deep interest in the field

Description: Usually it occurs as a separate motive at first glance, but in reality it typically appears to be the motive to be a creator or the motive to be part of something cool.

- If this is an interest in the field indeed, then you should scrape together everything in the vacancy that could be related to the candidate’s interest.

- It is significant to tell the candidate about being at the technical forefront.

Motive: Money

Description: the candidate treats work as a source of income. Work itself is not a critical priority in life.

Solution: When you offer a vacancy, all benefits can be turned into money in addition to salary itself. For example, now the salary is small, but for a year of work in this company, the candidate will gain such experience that other companies would kill to have him/her for a salary doubled.

Sample questions that will help you to understand the candidate really deep

- What are the three most important factors for choosing a new job?

- What needs to be changed in the current company, so that everything is completely satisfied?

- What things are unacceptable for you at work?
Imagine that you could choose any profession, any position in any company, and you would have the necessary skills for this. You can become a doctor, the Head of Google or a famous actor. What choice will you make? Why?

- Tell me about your most significant achievement. Something difficult, but something you managed to do and something you’re proud of.

- Have you thought about starting your own business?

Job offers in different locations

If your candidate has several offers in different countries, then you need to compare not only the companies and conditions of those offers, but also the standard of living in these countries, along with major cultural differences that can occur and that also matter.

Startup vs corporation

- If you need arguments in favor of a startup, you should talk about a larger area of ​​​​responsibility, the opportunity to say “I did it”, participate in decision-making, the opportunity to build a career (because career growth rate is faster in startup, while in corporation all leadership positions are often occupied), a clear experience for the candidate to build his/her own business in future. Moreover, many startups offer options and ownership stakes to their first employees in addition to salaries, and the company price can grow very fast on the market, which makes a candidate one of the beneficiaries.

- If you need arguments in favor of a corporation, you should talk about a career (there is definitely room to grow here), about guarantees, about the best educational support (everything is done right here, and you won’t learn trash), about best practices and connections for building a business.

By continuing to use our site, you consent to the processing of cookies that ensure the proper operation of the site. Read more