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5 Tips on How to Answer the Question “What Motivates You”

Whenever you answer an interview question, you must be honest, thoughtful, and sincere. Don’t simply tell them what you think they want to hear. Most hiring managers can see through that and if they don’t, you might end up being hired by a company where you’re not a great fit. Instead, tell some inspiring stories that illustrate you as a hard-working team player.

Here’s how to answer what motivates you in an interview.

Stay focused and positive 

Don’t ramble on or make your answer all about you. It’s important to show that you recognize that you’re part of a team, part of a larger organization, and part of a community. Don’t simply say that you’re motivated by the threat of being fired or being reprimanded for doing a mediocre job. And don’t simply focus on money as a motivator either. You can mention that, of course, but you might want to pad that answer with something a bit more substantial.

Reflect the culture

Another reason why it’s important to thoroughly research a company before you sit down to interview with them. Mention something that’s in the company’s mission statement or that you’ve seen in their culture and talk about how it’s a priority for you too. It could be something about teamwork or making valuable contributions to the community.

Show off an achievement

Use this question to answer on two levels—to show what motivates you and to gently brag about a past accomplishment. Talk about a time when you worked hard to meet a goal and how that made you feel—satisfied and proud. Or maybe you enjoyed the recognition and appreciation you received after you made an important contribution to your company. Perhaps you saved them money or helped a coworker solve a problem.

Demonstrate a skill

You could also use this question to show off some of your skills and talents. Think about the job you’re applying for and some of its requirements. Then describe some examples of your past work that demonstrate you meet those requirements. For example, you might talk about a time when you enjoyed the challenge ahead of you and used your coding skills, problem-solving skills, or communication skills to perform the job as best you could. In other words, you’re motivated by overcoming an obstacle and achieving what seemed impossible.

Practice your response

Inquiring about a candidate’s motivation is a pretty standard interview question, so make sure you’re prepared for it. Rehearse your answer and try it out on a friend or family member so you can get some feedback. It might even help to write out an answer so you can take your time and craft a thoughtful response.

For more advice on how to prepare for an interview so you can stand out from the competition and prove that you’re the best fit for the job, contact our team today.