“What motivates you?” may sound like a threatening existential question, but it’s less intellectual and a lot more enjoyable to answer in an interview than you might imagine.
You know that feeling you get when you brag to your closest friends about a great movie you attended or a presentation you nailed that just might land you a major promotion? And then they catch your enthusiasm and become excited as well? So now is your chance to simulate an interview. It’s the ideal opportunity to highlight a dazzling and jovial side of your personality.
So, grab a seat and adhere to our five suggestions to release that energy. But first, some more information on why this topic is raised.
Why do interviewers inquire as to your motivations?
Impressing interviewers is easy with skills and expertise. But they fall short. Additionally, you need the motivation to put them to use, ideally in a manner that benefits your potential employer.
When someone asks you this question, they’re trying to determine whether you’d be motivated by your work and apply all of your skills to this particular position at this specific organization. In different terms, they would like to know if you’ll be a motivated employee who works hard and productively in that setting.
If you ask someone what inspires them and their response has nothing to do with the firm, even if they have a really strong résumé, they may worry that neither you nor the organization will get what they need.
Keeping that in mind, here’s how to construct a solid response to this question:
- Consider your prior experiences to determine what drives you.
Consider your interests. What aspect of your work gives you the most satisfaction? She says that if you can identify those elements, you will have the foundation for your response.
Spend some time reflecting on—and perhaps even outlining in a list—the facets of prior employment that gave you the most vigor and inspiration, the ones that you wished you could have done more of or that were your exclusive responsibility. It might have been leading a brand-new effort or working as a productive team member on a significant project. Or perhaps it was engaging with them and giving them a sense of being heard. Or perhaps it was seeing your sales increase and your name going up the leaderboard. Perhaps it had nothing to do with your regular duties at all, but rather something to do with the purpose of the business or the clients it served.
Even if it’s not for an interview, it’s still useful to reflect on oneself.
- Motivations to discuss during a job interview.
This list may help you get started if you’re having trouble thinking of what aspects—or aspects—of your jobs have inspired you in the past. But keep in mind that you still need to be particular and personable in your response.
You could be inspired by:
- being a reliable and helpful team player.
- conceiving a novel idea for a product or remedy.
- the act of coming up with and carrying out a new idea, venture, or endeavor.
- assisting a group or individual in achieving a goal.
- supporting a company’s objectives that are important to you.
- producing goods at work that benefit others (coworkers, clients, customers, etc.).
- Making work goods that have certain characteristics that matter to you (for example, creative, streamlined, entertaining, easy-to-use).
- gaining knowledge in a certain field.
- assisting others in problem-solving
- gaining additional knowledge or abilities.
- overcoming obstacles.
- delivering first-rate customer service.
- offering materials.
- establishing goals and attaining (or exceeding) them.
- educating or instructing others.
- Make sure the position and your motivation are compatible.
It nearly goes without saying that, depending on the situation, one individual could be motivated by a variety of factors. Unless the position is an ice cream tester or dog walker, now isn’t the time to wax artistic about how much you adore ice cream and dogs or how you’d go across oceans and across mountains to enjoy a cone or pet a pup.
Choose one career-related concept that is appropriate for the position and firm for which you are seeking. Goodfellow argues that if the company is a small, young startup that is expanding and you are driven by learning something new and being tested, that is a wonderful answer because that is the environment you will be in.
However, “as an interviewer, I’d want to investigate that further because it’s not essentially going to be the case,” adds Goodfellow, “if you’re likely to be carrying out accounting analysis most of the day and indicate that you flourish by wearing multiple hats on a daily basis and learning new things.” In essence, everything depends on the situation.
To help you “create a range of items well before the interview of what you’d be doing for this position and what’s satisfying for you out of them,” you could refer to the job description itself. Choose the facets of the profession that cause your mouth to open wide and your heart to race. “Then you can connect it to what drives you,”
Take a look at the job requirements for a company intelligence analyst, for instance. The fact that a significant portion of the job would involve communicating with coworkers throughout the organization to comprehend their needs, assisting them in translating those needs into requests for data, and working in collaboration and artistically to display what they are seeking in a version they can understand catches your attention. You don’t mind pulling information and crunching numbers.
You can relate your motive for applying to the position you’re interviewing for—in this case, perhaps it’s to assist colleagues in harnessing the power of data—by adding something along the lines of, ” And it is one of the things about this work that attracts me. I could use that drive to contribute to cross-functional collaboration so that everyone feels confident in their ability to comprehend and utilize the data we’re gathering.”
- But be sincere.
Avoid losing sight of what truly entices you in the course of crafting the ideal response in light of the position and the organization.
As the quote goes, “If it doesn’t feel honest to you, it won’t feel honest to the listener.” So, when you consider and formulate your response, be on the lookout for any that you believe to be plausible but are untrue. It will be perceived as very fake if it doesn’t speak to you.
The risk goes beyond just losing the job because of a well-presented but false response. Even worse, if your answer somehow passes the test, you might land the job, only to hate it later because the daily tasks and rewards don’t appeal to you.
- Use a story to stand out.
Be precise and provide an example to demonstrate your point in order to give a response that stands out from those of the other candidates. Utilize a story to your advantage because they are memorable and convincing.
According to Goodfellow, the example need not be, “I improved the company’s revenue by 20% or rescued the company $2 million.” “I believe that’s why a significant number of individuals shy away from providing instances. Well, I haven’t done anything that great, it seems. However, that is not the case. It’s alright if you haven’t fought off superhero villains and prevented the end of the world. Your tale merely needs to show that you’d be a terrific hire for this position—it doesn’t have to be worthy of a superhero film.
Recall one of the reflections that provided you an energy boost and made you happy to be working on your job, and briefly relate that feeling as the portion of your response.
- You can put together your own by using these sample responses as a guide.
With greater knowledge of the motivations behind the question and the overall approach to responding to it, you can craft a succinct but impactful answer. Here are a few illustrations of what that might resemble:
An example response for a person who is inspired by new experiences.
“I’m mostly motivated by a desire to learn new things, no matter how tiny, and take on new tasks in order to develop professionally and give more to my team and business. I worked as a camp counselor for several summers, and the times when I offered to lead planning for a talent show, jumped in to assist with scheduling logistics, and figured out how to run pickups effectively were when I felt the most satisfied. This is what excites me so much about the potential to take on this leadership job for the after-school program. All of that experience helped me tremendously when I advanced to become the lead counselor focusing on operations last year.”
An illustration of a response for someone driven by the thoroughness.
“I think even the little things may have a big impact, especially for a busy executive. Fortunately, I thoroughly enjoy reviewing, checking, confirming, and anticipating to make sure nothing falls between the gaps. I used to be in charge of making travel arrangements. Making sure there were extra copies of speeches printed in large font tucked in bags and waiting at the venue, calling the hotel to inquire about which rooms were the quietest, and arranging for tea with honey and lozenges to be waiting if someone was exhausted and losing their voice before a speaking engagement were all examples of how I would always think seven steps ahead and very nearly predict the future. Knowing that I had considered everything always gave me energy, and that same drive would enable me to help the C-suite here as an executive assistant.”
Example response for someone who is motivated by competing with others.
“I thrive on achieving and surpassing targets and on friendly competition, I’m the type of person who searches for spinning sessions with leaderboards and concurrently signs up for three-step challenges. We had a screen at my last sales job that displayed real-time updates and identified team members according to how they were doing in terms of quarterly goals. I didn’t stop until I had accomplished at least 100% of my objective, and if I wasn’t in the top three, I always felt an extra push to keep going. When I began out on the list one quarter lower than normal, it just motivated me to work harder than ever before. I scheduled more calls and appointments and spent a lot of time learning about the needs of potential clients so that I could adapt my pitches. I finished second on the squad with a 108% goal percentage. I would be inspired to achieve in the same way by the friendly rivalry you described cultivating among the sales staff here.”
An example of a response from a person who is driven to help others.
“I enjoy conversing with people. And I get a great deal of satisfaction from making certain that they are heard and that their issues are remedied. I did well on the floor when I worked in retail. I can still picture a woman entering the store in search of a dress for her son’s college graduation. The fact that he was the first member of the family to go to college meant a lot to her. I talked to her intermittently for about an hour while listening, offering suggestions, and checking in. Three days before the event, she returned, upset because the zipper was damaged. I soothed her and promised her that we would find a workaround even if we ran out of her size. I coordinated the timely delivery of a dress from another store. Later, she delivered a thank-you message with a picture of herself and her son, who was graduating, looking happy. Every client has a story, and I want to make sure that every single one of them gets a happy ending. I was lured to the position of customer service prof