How to answer the employer's question "What motivates you?"

Motivation
Motivation

During an interview, employers are likely to ask both simple and open-ended questions. Typically, open-ended questions are used to better understand your personality, work style, and qualifications, and to determine if you are the right fit for the position, team, and culture. "What motivates you?" is a popular open-ended question that you should be prepared to answer.

Since you likely have multiple professional and personal motivators, consider which motivators are most relevant to the job you're about to interview for. In this article, we'll look at a few ideas to help you prepare your answer, as well as sample answers you can come up with on your own.

Key Concepts

  • Think about what interviewers are looking for.
    Employers usually want to know a few things about you when they ask this question. Your answer should be unique based on your experience, but it should also follow a general formula so that you provide the interviewer with the correct information.
  • Be careful.
    This helps prepare your response before the interview so you have time to identify what a particular employer might want to know, give an honest answer, and focus on your topics of conversation.
  • Show your relevant qualifications:
    While it may be tempting to discuss various hobbies in answering this question, you will be most successful if you limit your answer to one or two specific motives that also demonstrate your qualifications for the job.

Why do interviewers ask, "What motivates you?"

Hiring managers ask this question for two main reasons:

1. Employers want to know if your sources of motivation match the position.

The best job candidate will naturally be inspired by the responsibilities and experience associated with the position. For example, if you are interviewing for a news reporter and share the motivation to work on tight deadlines and at a fast pace, the interviewer can draw clear parallels between the job and your ideal work environment.

2. Employers want to determine if you know enough about what drives you.

Similar to asking about your strengths and weaknesses, interviewers ask what motivates you to find out how well you know yourself. The candidate who can quickly give a well thought out, natural explanation of what keeps them motivated at work is someone who is also likely to be a self-starter and knows how to stay on track.

Other variations of this question might include:

  • What makes you do your best?
  • What inspires you?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What makes you come to work?
Motivation at work

How to answer "What motivates you?"

Like any interview question, the best way to make a positive impression is to formulate your thesis in advance. Here are a few questions to ask yourself in order to formulate an answer:

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What did a great day at work look like in previous roles?

Take a moment to reflect on your professional history and what you considered successful in each job. Try to identify trends. For example, you may become aware of your favorite memories of each of your previous positions related to achieving a difficult goal or solving a difficult problem. In this case, you can say that you are motivated by getting out of your comfort zone or by the opportunity to overcome difficulties. If you're new to the professional world, think about what motivated you to do your best in an internship, volunteer position, or class.

What made you choose a profession or field of activity?

Think about the reasons why you were attracted to your job, in addition to compensation. Maybe you enjoy being able to help others or use your creative skills. For example, a teacher might be motivated to help students learn new things and see them succeed. Compensation can be a strong motivator for you, but it's usually not the kind of motivator you want to share during a behavioral interview.

What prompted you to apply for the job when you read the job description?

Review the job description and determine what job responsibilities prompted you to apply. For example, if you enjoyed the prospect of working at a startup to create a new software application, you might say that you are motivated by the opportunity to create something innovative or see tangible results from your efforts.

Best Answer Examples

When answering this question, try to be as specific as possible, give real-life examples, and tie your answer to the position. Here are some examples of well-written responses:

Example 1

“As a marketer, I have always been motivated by creative projects, teamwork, and the ability to connect my efforts to the bottom line of the organization. One of the things I loved about my last job was watching the results of our team's campaigns and seeing how the leads we nurtured became customers. Being able to lead campaigns from idea to launch was one of the reasons I was so excited to apply for this role.”

Why Interviewers Like It: this candidate shows the interviewer that he has a strong desire to fulfill role duties. Their case study demonstrates their deep experience and passion for their work. Also, it's always a good idea to point out how your motivation will determine your future in the company.

Example 2

“The pleasure of overcoming obstacles is my main motivator. For example, math was never my best subject, but I chose to study math in college even though it wasn't required for my major because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. The course was not easy, and I spent many nights studying late, but I passed it perfectly. The sense of accomplishment that comes with superior tasks is what led me to a sales career.”

Why Interviewers Like It: this answer gives the interviewer a good idea of ​​how the candidate will perform at the job. This lets the employer know that they are motivated and ready to leave their comfort zone to achieve ambitious goals. In this case, the interviewer may conclude that because the candidate is motivated by the challenge, they are more likely to perform well under pressure and help the company thrive.

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Example 3

“I am motivated by the fact that when I leave work at the end of my shift, I know that I have helped make a difference in the lives of my patients and their families. Seeing the smiles on their faces and how they improve, I look forward to working. That's why I became a nurse and why I'm looking for a job in pediatrics.

Why Interviewers Like It: this answer shows that the candidate is intrinsically motivated, which is especially useful in areas such as the medical industry, which can be physically and emotionally challenging. By demonstrating his willingness to provide quality assistance so that others succeed, the candidate shows how their motivation makes him a passionate and reliable employee.

Hints for "What motivates you?"

1. Keep it up to date for work

The most important strategy is to match your response to the requirements of the role. While many factors can motivate you, now is a good time to discuss motives that illustrate your suitability and potential for the job you are about to interview for.

2. Make it personal if you can

If possible, discuss how your personal passion relates to your professional motivation. This shows interviewers that you may have a deeper commitment to the role. For example, if you are interviewing for a recruiter position, you could briefly discuss your previous difficulties finding the right job and how that further motivates you to help others in their job search.

3. Be specific

Address one or more specific motivations and discuss a specific experience that demonstrates how it has positively impacted your work. This gives credibility to your answer. The more specific you can be about the situation, but still give a short answer, the better.

4. Show how it fits into your future trajectory.

If you see yourself growing in this position in the long term because you are passionate about your job responsibilities, be sure to explain that. When you link your motivation to developing your career with this employer, they convince them that you will be a dedicated employee.

5. Links it to the mission or vision of the company.

If possible, discuss how your motivation aligns with the employer's mission or culture. For example, if your company's mission is to connect the world through social media, you could share a story about the personal or professional connections you've made through the platform and discuss why it inspires you to contribute to their success. Or, if you're applying for a position at a start-up company, you could talk about why a dynamic work environment motivates you.

What not to say when answering “What motivates you?”

While interviewers generally don't try to deceive you, there are a few tricky situations to keep in mind when answering this question. Understanding common mistakes will help you avoid them during interviews. It's also helpful to remember that your answer should support your ultimate goal of the interview: getting the employer to hire you.

  • stay positive mood : Avoid discussing any negative motivators as this is generally considered an undesirable quality. This can be especially difficult if the interviewer uses slightly different wording, such as "What inspired you to apply for this position?" Instead of expressing doubts about your current job or employer, talk about why you are so passionate about your new role responsibilities.
  • Stay Focused: your answers should be work-related and focused on specific experiences. This is where advanced training can help. If your answer is too vague, incoherent, or general, you run the risk of appearing unreliable and unprepared.
  • Stay up to date: take the opportunity to show how your motivation makes you the most qualified candidate for this job. While it's okay to motivate yourself with a high salary or generous perks, employers generally tend to hire candidates who have a deeper connection and commitment to the real job.

Essentially, asking “what motivates you” is another way to evaluate how passionate and excited you are about the position, and how you ensure you always do a good job. By identifying and expanding your motivations, you can leave the interviewer with a positive impression and a clearer idea of ​​who you will be as an employee.

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