In an interview, it is important to be honest and forthright in your responses. The question "what motivates you?" is no different. When an employer asks this question, they are looking to gain insight into what drives and inspires you as an individual.
There are a few different ways you can answer this question:
Talk about what drives you to do your best work.
For example, you might say that you are motivated by the satisfaction of a job well done, or the opportunity to learn new things and grow in your role.
Share what inspires you in your work.
For example, you might be motivated by making a difference in the lives of others, or by working with people who share your passion for a certain cause.
Explain what motivates you to stay committed to your goals.
For example, you might say that you are motivated by the challenges that come with pursuing your goals, or by the sense
Before heading into an interview, you should take time to prepare answers to the most popular and common questions. This will not only help you to give the best possible impression, but it will also help to calm your nerves. If you are nervous about the unknown, being prepared for anything can help you to feel more at ease.
Preparing for your interview
The best way to answer tough questions is to be prepared for them. You can do this by researching the most common interview questions, and coming up with thoughtful answers in advance.
When you are preparing for your interview, it is also important to keep in mind that your interviewer is looking to get to know you as a person, not just an employee. As such, it is important to be authentic in your responses and to avoid giving cookie-cutter answers that could apply to any candidate.
Your goal should be to give the interviewer a sense of who you are, what motivates you, and what makes you unique. With this in mind, here are a few tips on how to answer the question "what motivates you?"
Why do interviewers ask this question?
As we mentioned, interviewers ask this question to gain insight into what motivates you as an individual. This can be helpful for them to assess whether or not you would be a good fit for the company and the role.
In addition, your answer to this question can also give the interviewer some insight into your work ethic and how you approach your work. For example, if you are motivated by challenges, they may assume that you are willing to put in the extra effort to achieve your goals.
On the other hand, if you are motivated by making a difference in the lives of others, they may assume that you are compassionate and driven to do good work.
Understanding what motivates you demonstrates a degree of self-awareness that is incredibly valuable to employees. When you know what motivates you, you know what steps you need to take to achieve your goals. You'll also be easier to manage and support because the employer will know exactly what they need to give you in order to help you achieve your best.
What is the best way to answer this tough question?
As with any interview question, you will be more convincing if you can share an example. So, think about times when you have achieved something incredible, and then think about what was the source of motivation behind your achievement.
You don't have to give an employment example, and this could actually be the perfect time to share something from your life outside of work. If you are involved in any competitive sports, this is an excellent time to mention what keeps you motivated. You could also talk about volunteer experience or any side hustles that might be a source of inspiration and motivation.
Graduates in particular will benefit from sharing information from outside of their work experience. If you're applying for your first role, you might struggle to think of work experience examples from your past that are relevant. Instead, you can include insight from your studies or extracurricular activities.
Some example answers could include:
"I'm highly motivated by setting, achieving and then advancing my goals. I recently started running and set a goal to run a 5K in one month. I achieved this goal ahead of time, so I set another goal to run a 10K. I found this really easy, so I'm now training for a half marathon. I like the feeling of achievement I get from smashing my goals."
"I love helping other people, and the satisfaction I get from knowing I've made a difference is a huge source of motivation for me. At the weekend, I volunteer at a homeless shelter and help people get back on their feet by offering IT skills classes. When I see a person get back into employment and move into their new home, this always gives me a huge sense of accomplishment."
“I love learning new things and I get a lot of satisfaction from proving myself through new qualifications and accreditations. I recently decided I wanted to learn to play the piano, so I took evening classes and passed the Grade 4 exam. At work, I will often take free courses to expand my knowledge.”
“I’m incredibly competitive, but not with my team. I like to support my team while competing with myself. I’m a weightlifter in my free time, so I’m always competing against my last personal record in the gym. I take this attitude into my work and try to make sure I’m always improving my performance in some way every day.”
“I love being helpful and feeling valued as part of the team. This has always been a huge source of motivation for me, so when I was able to increase my last company's sales performance by 10% by introducing a new sales script, this was a huge professional milestone for me.”
What are some common mistakes people make when answering this question?
When answering this question, it's important to:
Avoid being generic or vague
Some common mistakes people make include:
Giving general, vague answers that could apply to any candidate. Avoid this problem by offering examples that are specific to you. Remember, you can use examples from any part of your life, not just your employment history.
Not being honest about what actually motivates them. There's no sense in hiding what motivates you. If you're motivated by money, success or the prestige of a job title, say so.
Trying to say what they think the interviewer wants to hear instead of being authentic. If you can't give a real-life example to back up your answer, you might be trying too hard to bend the narrative.
Being too brief in their answer and not providing enough detail.
Forgetting to tie their answer back to the company or role they are applying for. If the job description says they are looking for a goal-oriented person, you need to demonstrate how you fit this description perfectly.