A Quick Guide to Career Motivation Tests

woman taking online test

Every person has different motivations for working: some people are motivated by the financial rewards a job offers (salary, bonuses, remuneration, compensation, benefits – call it whatever you want), others work for personal fulfilment and some want to be recognised for their accomplishments. But it’s not always easy identifying what motivates you – especially when you’re confused about all the options available to you.

Fortunately, constant innovations and developments in the field of psychometrics have allowed school leavers and career changers (and everyone else in between) take their first steps down the road to a long and successful career through the application of career testing.

In this quick guide, we take a look at career motivation tests: what they are, what they do and how they can help you understand what makes you tick.

What is motivation?

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic, which are the internal and external factors that stimulate your desire to do things.

  1. Intrinsic: refers to engaging in behaviours because they are personally rewarding. This could be solving a word puzzle because you find the challenge fun and exciting, or participating in a particular activity because you enjoy it.
  2. Extrinsic: engaging in behaviours that are driven by external rewards like money, fame and praise. This includes participating in a sport to win awards or putting in extra effort at work to get a promotion.

It’s important to understand that you can be intrinsically motivated for some things and extrinsically motivated for others. For example, you may be intrinsically motivated when it comes to keeping fit as you find exercise highly enjoyable, while you may be extrinsically motivated when it comes to your career because you only work to support your family.

Why it's important in the workplace

From an employer’s standpoint, unmotivated employees equal bad news. In fact, employee disengagement costs employers a staggering £340 billion a year in the UK alone. That’s enough to buy Google three times (valued at $109.5 billion, or £89.5 billion) and still have £71 billion to spare!

A motivated workforce, meanwhile, is good for business as it means improved job satisfaction and, therefore, decreased turnover and absenteeism rates as well as increased productivity, efficiency, morale and a whole bunch of other things.

But the benefits of employee engagement don’t stop there. Research by US talent management software and services company Taleo found that companies with highly engaged employees enjoy up to 26 per cent higher revenue per employee and also earned 13 per cent greater total returns to shareholders over the last 5 years.

For this reason, employers choose to hire people who are not only qualified for and passionate about a job but are also motivated to do a job well.

What are career motivation tests?

Career motivation tests are psychometric assessments which help identify and understand the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators of an individual. Simply put, they help determine the work values that are important to you in your work and, keeping them in mind, make it easier for you to decide whether a job is a good fit for you.

These tests are used to assess an individual’s different motivators, such as achievement, financial rewards, identity/purpose, independence, power, recognition/appreciation and status, among other things. (Every assessment is different than the next, so motivators and methods used will vary.)

What are they used for?

Career motivation tests can be used by a variety of individuals and organisations, including employers, recruiters, career coaches, career counsellors, university careers service centres and outplacement companies to:

  • Determine an applicant’s fitness in a company and to recruit the right individuals for specific jobs (many employers include motivation assessments in their preliminary application and selection process, among other psychometric and aptitude tests)
  • Improve employee performance within the workplace (managers can identify the factors that increase/decrease enthusiasm  in the workplace, which allows them to work toward increasing employee engagement and help employees maximise their potential)
  • Build teams consisting of individuals with complementary motivators
  • Help individuals take on their roles within a team
  • Coach individuals
  • Help people make the right career choices
  • Enable personal development

How do you take them?

Career motivation tests are generally comprised of questions or statements that describe different work-related activities and are targeted at individuals’ long and short-term goals. The idea behind these tests is to force users to rank these statements by indicating the level of their agreement/disagreement.

There are no right or wrong answers, as your answers are strictly personal and are designed to identify what makes you (and only you) tick at work and in your career.

A typical assessment will include questions/statements such as: ‘In 5 years, I will have progressed to managerial level’ with options such as: ‘Very false for me’, ‘Somewhat false for me’, ‘Somewhat true for me’ and ‘Very true for me’.

A selection of popular tests

If you're thinking of taking a career motivation test to better understand your work values or to practice for an assessment, look no further.

  1. Psychology Today: The leading US magazine offers a career motivation test on their website that takes about 15 minutes to complete. You’ll have to examine a series of statements and indicate how often or to what degree you feel that way. It’s free and includes a snapshot report with a summary evaluation, but you’ll need to purchase the full results for $6.95 (about £5.60).
  2. Career Hunter: Unashamed and unapologetic self-promotion here. Career Hunter is part of the CareerAddict family and is a uniquely developed career testing system comprised of six self-assessment and aptitude tests. The first test, the Career Interests test, is absolutely free to take and identifies the top industries you should consider pursuing a career in. However, you’ll have to unlock the rest of the system for £9.99 and, after completing all six tests, you’ll get a personalised 30-page report and accurate career matches based on your career interests, motivations, work personality traits and abilities.
  3. Mind Tools’ Leadership Motivation Assessment: This free and simple assessment helps you discover how motivated you are to lead. It consists of 14 statements that you need to answer by indicating the extent to which you agree to each of these statements.

Understanding what motivates you, or what makes you tick, at work and in your career, in general, can help you pursue a lifelong and, hopefully, successful career that you’ll not only be good at but that you’ll also love.

And that is precisely why we advise professionals (whatever level they are at on the career ladder) to take a motivation test. Not only will you be able to ascertain key work values but you’ll also be able to use that information to craft the perfect CV and prepare for an interview in order to land your dream job.

Do you have anything you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments section below.

This article was originally published in July 2013.