“What Motivates You?” & Example Interview Answers

what motivates you interview question tips
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During an interview, interviewers pop up all sorts of questions to understand you professionally and personally. 

One of the tricky questions they might ask is, “What motivates you?” Your brain might be working fast trying to speculate what they mean by asking what motivates you to work. Instead of guessing ad hoc how to answer what motivates you professionally, you should prepare answers in advance. 

This article will guide you through the best approach to answer the interview question “What motivates you.” 

Similar motivation questions asked in an interview include:

  • What drives you in life/at work?
  • What motivates you to do a good job?
  • What inspires you to go to work every day?
  • What makes a job fun and motivating for you?
  • What are you passionate about at work?
  • What inspires you to succeed every day?
  • What motivates and makes you excited to go to work?

Why Interviewers Ask “What Motivates You?”

There are five reasons why interviewers ask “What motivates you”. 

1. They want to know if your motivation is aligned with the company goals.

Companies have goals. Whether they are expanding markets or changing the world, the manager asks “What motivates you” to understand if your goal is the same. 

If your answer for “What motivates you” shares similarities with the company’s goal, you’re more likely to achieve goals together.

For example, if promoting cruelty-free products is what motivates you, joining companies that care for animal rights will be a win-win.

2. They want to know if you fit with the company culture.

A company’s culture is crucial. Being comfortable at work increases productivity. If what makes a job fun and motivating for you coincides with the company culture, you are more likely to come across a suitable candidate in the interview.

By asking “What motivates you,” managers can determine whether your work style fits the company’s culture.

For example, a person who values efficiency more than heavy work hours will naturally be more comfortable working in an environment providing paid leaves or flexible shifts.  

3. They want to know if you understand yourself.

By observing how you answer “What motivates you,” the hiring manager can also know whether you are a clear-headed person.

If you are clear about what motivates you to be successful, you’re less likely to lose your sense of purpose at work.

4. They want to know if your goals match the responsibilities.

If the job responsibilities and your goals match, you would be less likely to leave the job if hired. Your response to the question “What motivates you” sheds light on your compatibility for the role. 

5. They want to know what keeps you happy and proactive at work.

Asking “What motivates you” is a good way to understand how to keep employees. Happy employees are often much more productive and can make better decisions.

Asking employees “what motivates you” or “what motivates you to do your best work” is a way for hiring managers to learn how to adjust their environment and HR policies for employees to work more efficiently.

How to Answer “What Motivates You?”

“What motivates you” is a hard question to answer on the spot. To answer it well, prepare and formulate your answer prior to the interview by doing the following: 

💡 Do thorough research about the company.

The objective of learning about the company while you prepare for “What motivates you” is to be able to mention the company’s mission and vision in your answer.

There are 3 places where you can learn about the company’s vision:

  1. The company’s “About Us” page
  2. “Career” page or the job posting
  3. Their social media

From what you learn about the company and the role, you can answer what motivates you most effectively. Try to focus on one or two particular facets rather than incorporating everything in your answer for “What motivates you.”

💡 Think about your strengths, passion, and interests.

Your strengths, passion, and interests supply great answers for the interview question “What motivates you.” 

Strengths are often a great source for the sense of achievement, which motivates people. What drives you in life? What are your expertise and skills? What could be your contribution to the team? 

These could be the best materials for the answer for ​​“What motivates you.” 

💡 Prepare an example from your work experience.

Reflect on proud achievements from your previous job roles (if it’s in the same field) and mention them while answering the question. Events with specific details also give credibility to your answer answer “What motivates you” and make it convincing.

For example, when you apply to a company that prides itself on the international services it provides, you might want to share experiences about working with foreign customers and expanding global sales to answer what inspires you to succeed every day.

Tips for Answering “What Motivates You?”

✏️ Be honest.

When answering “What motivates you,” be honest with what you say. Don’t lie about your motivation or give an insincere answer merely to please the hiring manager. A candid answer might just be the best answer for what motivates you at work.

There are just a lot of motivations in life. Nevertheless, keep the most private answers of “What motivates you” to yourself. Your children, spouse, or retirement plans should be left out of the conversation. 

✏️ Think about the company culture.

If you’re unsure about what motivates you at work, think from the company’s angle. If the company’s culture is all about creativity, your motivation might be bringing innovation and crazy ideas into the world.

✏️ Share an anecdote.

Anecdotes are interesting little stories that can explain what motivates you the most. A perfect anecdote might come from previous work experience or even from childhood experience that affects your career choices along the way. 

✏️ Avoid superficial answers.

What are superficial answers to interview questions like “What motivates you”?  “Well… Your generous salary is really what keeps me going.” That’s a superficial answer that keeps you from getting your dream job away.

A hiring manager seeks candidates who have deeper connections and commitments to their jobs by asking, “What motivates you.” They want to see reasons that support you to perform well and stay stable.

✏️ Keep your answer positive.

Instead of asking “What motivates you,” managers might ask, “What demotivates you.” In such a situation, keep it honest, but focus on the reasons not your feelings. Examples include lack of productivity or negativity in the workplace. 

Good Example Answers for “What Motivates You”

✨ Learning new things 

Learning new things and acquiring new skills could be the answer to what motivates you. People willing to learn new skills will progress better and do things faster. 

✨ Helping and coaching others

Teaching can also be what motivates you to work. Employees who help out colleagues will undoubtedly help nurture a positive workplace and the growth of the company.

✨ Solving complex problems

Some jobs require employees to solve problems constantly and overcome difficulties. For successful employees, interesting challenges are fuels that keep them going. The sense of accomplishment after solving a complicated puzzle is fulfilling and might just be what motivates you to keep working hard.

✨ Meeting goals

Meeting goals can be a good answer as it shows your commitment to the job and willingness to take on challenges.

✨ Bringing creative ideas to life

Creativity-focused works such as art directors, designers, or marketing professionals often enjoy generating exciting ideas and making them into reality. What motivates you might be the moment when you see the final, incredible results.

✨ Creating rapport and handling relationships

If you are good at making friends with people, what motivates you could create rapport with others. Handling relationships with others, either customers or vendors, is not an easy job. If that’s what motivates you and inspires you to succeed every day, definitely mention it in a job interview.

✨ Leading a team

Some enjoy being a leader and helping others to complete their tasks. Being able to help people work together is also an essential skill in the workplace. If this is what motivates you, remember to give successful examples of your leadership experience. 

✨ Developing and completing projects

The rewarding feeling of completing a project is a good answer to the question “What motivates you”. It shows that you are responsible and good at organizing.

✨ Making customers and users happy

Seeing the smile on someone's face makes us happy too. It might just be a simple but straightforward answer to what motivates you professionally.

✨ Analyzing data to look for insightful findings

Many jobs now require analytical thinking. If analyzing data or information is what motivates you, you are likely to be a great fit for whatever role you are applying for.

Answer Samples for “What motivates you”

💭 What motivates you the most?

Example Answer: 

What motivates me most is seeing myself grow, especially with the company. I like to learn new skills to keep my work more productive, and seeing the results just proves my hard work pay off. I like to try out different ways to experiment with which will turn out to perform best. During the process, I know that I am also gaining knowledge and precious experience for my profession.

💭 What motivates you to join our company?

Example Answer: 

I’ve always wanted to join a gaming company, and being in a reputed company like ABC is certainly my dream. Nevertheless, the main reason that leads me is your playful workplace and experimental lab that sets the benchmark in the gaming industry. I want to learn directly from your team and devote my skills to building the best gaming experience for global players.

What motivates you to work in a call center?

Example Answer: 

My passion for customer service starts from my interest in helping out others. There are just all kinds of things people can have difficulty with, and sometimes solving problems for them is the first step to help people improve their lives or simply have a good time. What motivates me is seeing people are satisfied and relieved. Having the ability to help out others keeps me driven all the time.

💭 What motivates you to do a good job at work?

Example Answer: 

I am motivated by multiple factors: a sense of accomplishment from delivering the result on time and being able to empower my team and bring out their best performance. That’s why I applied for this project manager role at ABC company. I am very excited about leading campaigns from ideation to launch.

💭 What motivates you to come to work every day?

Example Answer: 

Seeking growth is what drives me to choose to be a software engineer. I really see all challenges, small or big, as an opportunity for self-growth. While coding, I meet obstacles,  overcome them and grow. 

💭 What motivates you to apply for this role?

Example Answer: 

I love seeing a successful campaign transforms into customer growth. My passion for marketing is to make interesting things happen. I’m looking for opportunities for creative projects. This will provide me with the flexibility to launch creative works with our clients.

💭 What motivates you to succeed in life?

Example Answer: 

My motivation to succeed is knowing I have mastered a skill. I think that’s my main drive for both work and life. As a person, I’d like to see myself become more skilled at things that interest me. As a professional, I’ll challenge myself to be one of the best in the industry. 

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--- Originally written by Wu Chao Min ---

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