From the simple “Why do you want to work here?” to “What are your five-year goals,” job interviews are full of a lot of questions. You might even get asked some strange ones, like “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” But one of the more common questions in any job interview will always be “What motivates you?”
For some people, answering interview questions is a breeze, but for most people, they make you feel as though you've been put on the spot. It can be hard to come up with answers without doing the “umm” thing, which does not look good in an interview.
Why Do Jobs Ask You About What Motivates You?
Knowing why this question is such an important one in the world of job interviews may help you come up with the proper answer. While there is no “right” answer, there are plenty of wrong answers that could keep you from being the one that gets chosen for the job. So, what does motivate you?
What motivates interviewers to ask this question is the fact that they want to know what drives you, what helps you get through the day, and what empowers you to get the job done. There are all kinds of factors that motivate people to do different things. Some common motivators, not just about getting the job done for an employer, include:
Those are just some of the things that motivate people to do what they do. You could also be driven by jealousy or revenge, but those motivations probably aren't going to get you any jobs or win you any friends. That's why it's important to consider your answer before giving it.
Anyway, potential employers want to gauge your commitment to the job they'd be hiring you for – and asking what motivates you is one way they can do that. If you're motivated only by money, they may want to go with someone that isn't going to leave when a better paying job comes along.
Considering Your Motivations
You now know why they're asking this question, “What motivates you?” – So how are you going to answer it in a way that gives you a chance at getting the job? Well, you need to start with honesty. If you make something up, they're likely to see right through you as you answer other questions, or they'll see your true motivations once you're on the job.
Right now, before you even have a job interview, start thinking about what motivates you. What are you passionate about? What are the things that make you get you up in the morning, make you work for a living, and keep you from going insane? Those are the important things.
While this seems like a strange question at first, your motivations let the interviewer understand who you are and what you're going to offer them as an employee. Someone who is hungry for success, more than they just want something different to do, is going to be the one that a company will angle toward when it comes to making hiring decisions.
Answering the Question - “What Motivates You?”
Once you figured out what truly motivates you when it comes to work, or working at the particular job you're interviewing for, you need to practice your answer. You want it to come out smooth and honest when you give it – you don't want to be hesitant or stumbling over your words. You're not going to look like a fake just because your answer seems rehearsed – you'll look like someone who's serious about the job and took some time to learn how to interview with ease.
It's such a broad question, “what motivates you?” – So if you haven't planned for it and thought about it, it can really stump you. Make sure that your motivations align with what you're interviewing for.
A retail management position doesn't need your motivation to create things at home; it needs your motivation to get the items people need into their hands.
You'll want to integrate certain things into your answers—things that help let the employer know who you are, your experiences, and why you're the right one for the job.
These are things that motivate right on the job and will show the interviewer that you're serious about the position you've applied to. Don't just list these things, but give an explanation or a sample of how you'd do these things while on the job.
This guide can help you create great ways to tell your employer about the things that motivate you:
Those are just a few of the answers you can give, though what you say will depend on the job. You won't want to talk about leading teams if you're not interviewing for a job as a manager or team leader.
What Your Answer Means to Employers
Your answer to this question is going to tell your potential employer a few things about you, and that's the point of the question. They want to gauge your honesty and your ability to answer a broad question.
Your answers let your potential employer know if you'll be adding value to the position, and if you're ultimately the right person for the job. What motivates you has a huge bearing on how you work and how successful you'll be in a particular role.
They also want to figure out if you'll mesh well with the other employees you'll be working with – do you have similar passions and motivations as they do? Will you keep pace with them, or will your lack of desire for success and customer service hold you back?
Preparing for Your Answer
Employ the scouting motto and “always be prepared.” When it comes to preparing to answer, “What motivates you,” you want to get beyond motivation and look at a few internal, personal things as you come up with an answer that is true to you.
As you prepare to answer this question at your next interview, ponder upon the following:
Some Final Thoughts on What Motivates You
Just be honest about what motivates you when it comes to work and success, and you'll be sure to answer this question in a way that impresses the interviewer. Remember – not all interviews are in person, so be prepared to answer this question just as smoothly over the phone or in a video chat.