What Drives You?

By Carolyne Savini

Some of the world’s most successful (and self-made) people have an internal drive that pushes them through trials, failures and achievements. The notion of self-drive’s relationship to success has been on my mind ever since I read an interview with Madonna in the March 2015 edition of Rolling Stone. In it, Madonna talks about her work ethic, and being a little OCD. More importantly, she talks about where those attributes (and disorders) came from: her mother, her father, and her childhood in Detroit. Regardless of your opinion of Madonna – good, bad, indifferent – you have to respect the woman’s achievements, which can be tracked back to her internal drive.

When interviewing candidates for job opportunities, one question I always ask is, “What has been your greatest career achievement?” I ask that question because the answer will be unique for each candidate, and it gives insight on how people measure their own successes. However, in the thousands of interviews I have conducted, I can honestly say I have never asked the question, “What drives you, and why?”

What drives you may be deeply personal, and that’s a good thing. Do you have the drive to go above and beyond? If so, why? Are you driven to be perfect? Are you driven to take risks? Are you ok with failure? If you fail, will you pick yourself up and try again?

Moving forward, I plan to always ask candidates this question. Whether you are a person who either interviews people frequently or will be on the job hunt soon, I highly recommend that you too begin to ask, or find a way to answer, this question.

For employers, including this question in your script will enable you to identify candidates’ capacity and desire to continually achieve and be successful. Yes, a person’s past accomplishments show that s/he has the ability to succeed… but that record won’t tell you if that person is now content to rest on their laurels, or is a one-hit wonder. So, ask the candidate, “What drives you?”, and listen to the answer – it may help you determine whether that person has the chops to join your team. You may also get a sense of how long the person might stay with your organization based on how the challenges and opportunities at your organization line up with the candidates “drivers”.

For candidates, answering the question isn’t about proving examples of how you are driven but rather being able to explain why you are driven. Are you the only breadwinner in the family? A child of immigrants? Deeply competitive because you came from a big family? If you cannot pinpoint the source of your drive now (probably because you have never given it thought), start pondering the question. Your answer may help you stand out during an interview, illustrate to employers what makes you tick, and indicate to them that you are a person who’s driven to go above and beyond.

What drives you? Reach out to Carolyne on Twitter and share your story!



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