We all need to know how to answer the tricky "What motivates you?" question. It is not so stressful to answer it when we are just chatting with our friends about the meaning of life, but when a possible employer asks you this question at a job interview, you may start panicking. Check out the best ways to answer this tricky question!
Imagine: you are at the job interview, already quite nervous about what a possible future employer is going to ask you. Then, it feels like they drop a bomb on you by asking the famous "what motivates you" interview question. Not everyone is sure how to respond to that correctly, because motivations can be broad and different, and there are a million ways to speak about them. You never know which answer a recruiter will be satisfied with.
Nevertheless, from the experiences of many, there are a few common ways to answer this question, which could make your employer believe that you are a suitable person for this position. First of all, though, we will find out why exactly do they ask about this.
Why do interviewers ask what motivates you?
There are quite a few reasons why recruiters are so keen on asking about motivation. And those reasons are not connected with making an employee sweat and get nervous, while they triumph sitting back in their seat. An employer is not evil, but what they want is to make sure that you are the right person for their job position.
Naturally, an employer wants to learn about you as a person, and get a little sense of what your personality is. But what is even more essential for them is your determination and dedication. Every company wants to hire someone who would be working for them long-term and doing a successful job with their responsibilities. They are not interested in hiring a person who does not know what he or she wants from life. An employer wishes to learn about the ways you handle different challenges and perform additional duties.
That is why, when you answer this question, you need to demonstrate that you are very determined to become a part of this particular company, and are not hesitant about what you want. You have to show that your qualities are precisely what a recruiter is searching for and that your vision of your future responsibilities matches with the company's image. An employer wants to know what drives you and your ambitions, and what are your views on reaching success.
Some things that they want to know about you are:
- Are you a lone wolf or a team player?
- How your strengths would contribute to the job?
- Would your strong qualities align well with the values of the company?
- Are you particularly interested in this position and are sure that you will be successful at it, or are you just there for the pay?
- Are you motivated to climb up the career ladder, or are you perfectly fine with the minimum work?
- Are you willing to take stressful tasks, or perhaps your approach is more relaxed?
In general, answering the question about motivation can go in many various ways, and there is no definite answer for all jobs. Every company has its own values, and different employers want to see different qualities in their workers. However, there are still some useful tips about how to answer this question, and how it is better not to explain it.
If you are currently in search of a job and find yourself being unable to say a word at an interview without it sounding like a five-year-old child speaking, we are willing to help you out and save you from embarrassment. Check out how to give a confident and firm answer about your motivation!
What motivates you to do a good job answer
The employer who wants to find the right people to do their job usually asks the question about motivation. They want to know what motivates you at work and how you deal with all the work-related stresses and challenges. But they also care about the personal aspect and want to learn what motivates you in life. That is why you have to make sure that your answer covers everything, and is relevant to what a recruiter wants to hear from you. And to make the everlasting good impression, you should genuinely give your answers, but also with putting a lot of thought into what you say, and making sure it plays to your strengths, not your weaknesses.
Quite often, an employer can ask this question differently; for instance, it can sound like "what are you passionate about". This question is meant to learn about the things that make a person excited. There are some standard tips, which are useful when an employee is answering the question about motivation, or any variations of it.
- Research the company. If you are applying for a job at the particular company, it is not acceptable just to come to your interview without even a basic knowledge of what the company does, and what are their core values. The more you know about your possible future place of work, the better it will be. An employer wants to see that you are aiming to work for their company in particular, and are not just searching for jobs in hopes that someone will employ you. They would not be delighted to hear that you have barely heard of them and what they do.
- Prepare for the interview. In light of your one-on-one meeting with a recruiter, you should reflect and think about the questions that they will possibly be asking you. On the spot, it could be really complicated to come up with the right answer, and that is why preparing for it would be a good idea. The nice tactic would be reflecting on your past jobs, and thinking about the things that made you motivated there. You might consider all your best days and what exactly made you happy then, the duties that you were most looking forward to performing, and the times when you came home in an enthusiastic mood and started telling exciting stories to your family members. No matter if it was a client meeting that went well, the complicated project which you succeeded at completing, or a new skill that you acquired, there will always be something that made you feel energised, and you should keep it in mind when you talk about motivation.
- Remember about the job. Of course, not all jobs are the same. What would have been the perfect interview tactic at one job, ultimately would not work at the other. There most definitely are some skills and talents which are highly valued at the position that you are applying for. So, in your answer, you have to highlight them. Here is an example: if you are applying for the position of a manager, then you need to build your answer around establishing relationships and helping other people with succeeding. Making an emphasis on job-specific things would be more powerful than just giving a recruiter a generic response about working with clients or gaining new experience.
- Consider what the company is about. You always have to remember the main goals and values of your company. If your desired job is known for focusing on teamwork, then you should mention that you are motivated by being a part of a team and achieving goals together with your teammates. Again, if you are not very aware of the company goals, then you can research them before the interview.
- Provide an example. When you talk about things that motivate and inspire you, it is logical that you should provide a few examples. They will stay in the memory of your recruiter for longer than regular talk about reaching success, which they have heard before hundreds of times. If you say that you are motivated by achieving results, then you should give a clear example of that time when you contributed to the productivity of your job in a certain way. For instance, this can be a story about completing a project way ahead of its deadline or your other achievements. The person who is interviewing you will see how the motivation and inspiration you have will become beneficial for the company.
- Be honest. Admittedly, it does not mean that you should pour your entire heart and soul to the researcher. For example, if your biggest motivation is the pay, you should probably refrain from admitting this out loud, because from the recruiter's perspective it is not the best thing to be driven by. But sometimes giving more honest answers is better than reciting a generic response which you clearly mean to impress an employer with. The key to success is showing your sincerity and demonstrating your best personal qualities, so giving an honest answer about the source of your motivations will show an employer whether you are fit for this job. Just keep in mind all the previous points and think about what truly motivates you to do your job.
How to approach the question "what motivates you"?
So, you have considered all the tips above, but your creativity is still on a low level, and you are unsure how to answer this question in the way that would both satisfy an employer and preserve your personality. This is entirely normal because everyone is at least a little bit nervous before a job interview and keeps thinking about different scenarios that could happen. When you prepare to talk about your motivation, here are some questions which you could ask yourself.
- What are the things that you truly enjoy doing? What are your most significant interests and hobbies which make you feel happy? Are any of them relevant to the job, and can they portray you in a good light?
- What were the things that you enjoyed the most about your previous job or internship? Were there any tasks, responsibilities and skill-building routines that you were especially looking forward to? Completion of which projects caused you to have a great day and feel elated when you come home?
- What are you good at? Which sorts of tasks would you prefer getting, and would be more confident doing? Which environment is the best for you to work in? For example, is it more comfortable for you to get your job done in the busy background, under the pressure of a deadline, or in a relaxed and quiet atmosphere?
- How do you interact with other people? Is it best for you to complete your responsibilities when there is no one around, or do you want to work as a part of a big, friendly team? Do you prefer to supervise people, or listen to someone else's requests?
When you have answered this bunch of questions to yourself, think which skills are your employers mostly searching for, and which kind of job you are most likely to be doing.
READ ALSO: Absenteeism: definition, causes, solutions
What motivates you: how not to answer this question
There are some common mistakes which people make with their answers, and quite often, such a simple thing could influence the choice that a recruiter will make. So, you should read about the things you should not do or say, and avoid those if you want to get your dream job successfully.
- Do not talk about money. Mostly, people should not talk about the monetary aspect of the job, because it is quite an obvious motivation. Naturally, every person is looking for a job where they can make good money, and it is essential for everyone. Showing this as your only motivation; however, can make you seem like a shallow person who does not care about personal growth and contributing your skills to the company. This is what your possible employer wants to hear – they would like to know that you are passionate about what you do and that other things except cash motivate you.
- Do not make up some large, impressive story. When you talk about your motivations, do not make it too long and focused on yourself by listing your achievements and telling stories which are supposed to amaze an employer. It would be enough just to answer straightforwardly and simply. Be honest and genuine: employers value these qualities.
- Be precise and brief. A recruiter would not be too interested in hearing how you wake up in the morning to the sound of the alarm, do exercises and drink a cup of coffee. You should consider dropping all the less necessary information to touch what really matters, and what an employer truly wants to know about you.
- Do not say that you were forced to get a job. It might seem fairly obvious, but some candidates actually manage to say that their mom made them look for a job and now they have no other way out, or that their boyfriend/girlfriend did not like that they were not earning money. Remember: you are a responsible adult, and applying for this job was your own conscious choice.
- Never say that you have no motivation. This is what mostly kills the chances of an employee at every interview. All the employers without exception want motivated workers, and the person who is not sure what they want from life will definitely not catch their attention. Even if you are very nervous and your mind goes blank, it is still better to try saying something than not to say anything at all.
Saying those things during an interview will not necessarily make you doomed, but it is much better to avoid them in general and focus on positive motivations and honesty.
Examples of the possible answers to the question "What motivates you"
Looking at the examples is effective because they are typically perceived quicker than the regular rules. You can check out those simple answers which people usually give to the common question about motivation, and then customise them to fit your desired position, skills and personality.
- I am driven by achieving quick results. I like having a particular goal which I have to reach in a certain period. I usually take my time to figure out a strategy which would be acceptable for accomplishing my goal. At my last workplace, we had very tight deadlines, but my manager, me and team worked hard to meet them and perform our duties in the best way. In the end, it was thrilling for me to see our goals come true, and our work proved to be very rewarding.
- My motivation is to analyse the data. When I have a spreadsheet and questions, I am always very impatient to figure out the drive behind numbers. At my previous work, I was in charge of getting the monthly analytics report ready. The reports I did were centred around sales, and they helped to determine the new tactics that the company is supposed to work on to increase the sales numbers in the future. Providing this necessary information for the company has become motivating for me, and now I want to continue playing this critical role.
- When I was a director of several development teams, I was in charge of a few projects. As a result of our hard work, my teams achieved the result of the timely submission of the projects. My motivation during this time was the challenge of completing our plans before the deadline and managing the group of dedicated individuals who were determined to achieve our goal.
- The biggest motivation that I was driven by during my last job was ensuring that the clients of our company receive excellent customer service, and I was ready to do all I can to provide it to them. I am confident that it is significant to give the clients a positive experience, both for the reputation of the company and me personally. I am motivated by the desire to develop my skills at customer service. My drive was what made me become a top seller for two quarters straight.
- Meeting a deadline has always been my greatest motivation. I feel accomplished when I manage to meet an important deadline. That is why I do not only work with deadlines set by other people, but I also set them for myself very often. I organise myself and create a set schedule for every one of my projects. One of the examples is my fundraising event, which I was in charge of last year. Before I started working on it, I set myself a lot of deadlines which needed to be completed for the successful organisation of the event. As a result, I managed every task step-by-step, and reaching every milestone was what kept me working. I had to check every aspect of event planning and make sure that it is running smoothly. In the end, our event was a huge success.
There are right and wrong ways to answer the "What motivates you" question. That is why many people dread it. But there is nothing to fear because every person is capable of giving a unique and unforgettable answer. We believe in you and wish you the best of luck at your interview!
READ ALSO: How to write about professional background