Interviewing candidates, and trying to understand if they properly fit the position and your culture, is one of your most critical tasks as a leader.

The fact is that people spend way too much time and effort looking for very specific industry fit and experience for the roles they have, and way too little time understanding if the individual has the right combination of smarts, motivation, and drive to be successful.

Think of all the people you know who have been let go from their jobs. It’s almost never because they didn’t have enough industry knowledge or connections. In 99% of the cases it’s because they didn’t get along with others or they didn’t have the motivation to get the job done.

The more you know about a candidate’s motivations, the better. So, if you decide that you’re interviewing someone you might consider for a role, these are the 10 things you should know about them before they leave the interview room.

1. Can they do the job? Do they have the mental and physical capacity to do the job? Smart is good, but so is grit.

2. Will they do the job? Are they motivated to be successful? Do they have a track record of succeeding in similar roles? Do they like your business and your client base?

3. Do they fit into your culture? How do they fit into the job, the team and the company…because that’s what they’re looking for as the interview progresses. The candidate wants to understand, as best as possible, if yours is the right place for them.

4. Complete compensation details. Understand exactly how the candidate’s current compensation program is structured and when their next review is. This means more than the candidate’s base salary as that’s only part of the overall package. Be sure that you ask about bonuses: how and when they are paid out; have stock options or grants been awarded and how do they get paid out. Also, compile a complete list of benefits and how they are structured.

5. Type of commute. Commuting is a quality-of-life issue and discussing it is important. A ten-minute commute against traffic is very different than taking the car to a train and having to walk five blocks to the new organization. If the commute to your organization is worse for the candidate than it is in his or her existing job, bring it up and see how the candidate responds. Have them make the trip during rush hour and see how they respond. If the commute is better, use it as a selling point.

6. How they work best. Some candidates work best if left alone while others work best as part of a team. It’s your job to know enough about the organization’s philosophy, and the way the hiring manager manages, to see if the candidate will either mesh or grind. Beware of

recommending hiring a candidate who does not fit into the current scheme since often times style can be just as important as the substance of the role.

7. Overall strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to get some understanding of the candidate’s strong points and limitations. All of us have both. Ask what functions the candidate does not enjoy performing. We are seldom good at things we don’t like.

8. What they want in a new position. Everyone wants something so find out what the candidate is looking for in a new role. Be sure to do whatever is necessary to get this information. Feel free to pick away during the interviewing process with open-ended questions until you have all of your concerns answered. It’s difficult to determine whether a given hiring situation has a good chance of working out if you’re not certain of what the candidate is really looking for.

9. Is the candidate interviewing elsewhere? This is big. Once you’ve developed an open rapport with the candidate, ask what else they’re considering. Say something like ‘ I know you’re probably considering a number of different roles. Where does ours stack up in comparison?’ If the candidate has three other companies they are considering, and two offers are arriving in the mail tomorrow, this is absolute need-to-know information.

10. What it will take to close the deal. This is a first cousin of #8 above but it is more specific and flavoured with a “closing the deal” mentality. #8 relates to what the candidate wants in a new position, but this one quantifies that want. For example, if the candidate wants more money, this is where you will assess how much it will take to close the deal. As another example, while #8 will let you know that the candidate wants to work on different types of projects, this one will tell you exactly what types of projects those are.

For those candidates that you’re really interested in, don’t let them leave without gaining this information. I’ve observed literally hundreds of interviews between hiring managers and candidates, and I guarantee that your success rate will dramatically improve!