Are you self-driven?

Are you self-driven? The issue Every employer states that one of the qualities they need in a prospective employee is self-drive. Now all job

Are you self-driven?

The issue

Every employer states that one of the qualities they need in a prospective employee is self-drive. Now all job seekers now indicate they are ‘self-driven’.

As an employer, how do you assess whether a prospective employee is indeed self-driven?

How to assess self-drive?

The quality of the cover letter and CV of an applicant says a lot. Is the cover letter customized to the new job requirements? Does the cover letter demonstrate the applicants understanding of the organization, business model and gaps which the candidate feels they are the best people to close? Is the CV up-to-date and relevant for the position applied for? Does it highlight the skills and qualifications of the candidate that are relevant for the position?

Many job applicants send the same CV to different jobs. That may indicate a lack of self-drive and attention to details.

A case in point

I was asked by an entrepreneur to join their interview panel and help in selecting a suitable candidate for the role of an accountant they were filling. The company was looking for a self-driven person who pays attention to details as well.

The interview was set to assess the candidate based on how they responded to the mess they found at the reception.

The interviewers scattered some papers at the reception area and the US $50 note below the reception seat, placed in such a way someone would see the note from all angles. We were seeing the behavior of the candidates through the CCTV. This being private property, with CCTV warning notices in visible places, it was perfectly fine to do so since the reception area is a public place.


Only one out of six candidates that had been shortlisted, addressed the mess at the reception. He arrived. Pushed the door open, greeted the receptionist who was seated in such a way that they could not see what is in front of the scattered paper at the reception – you know how reception tables are designed. While seated, one can see only see the visitor but not on the floor.

The young man collected the paper, and moved with it and handed it over to the receptionist. And explained what had brought him. After being given a form to fill and directed to a seat, as he completed it, he saw the note. He picked it and moved to the reception, “I’ve found this money in a seat, someone could have left it there.” And handed it over.

This particular candidate came last in the panel interviews but he had demonstrated a lot of common sense, attention to detail and trust. Two of the six candidates tried to pocket the note and were not interviewed by the panel at all. It was too much. If someone could attempt to pick money from the reception in daylight, what about when they are given an accounting role?

In the end, the job went to the young man who had demonstrated trust, attention to detail and self-drive. Picking the paper without having been asked to do so indicated self-drive to the committee. The ability to see something out of order and fix it without waiting for someone to ask you, tells a lot about one’s upbringing, intellect, and common sense.

You can train how work can be done but not passion and integrity.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2019. All rights reserved.

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