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How to Answer “What Motivates You?” in an Interview

During a job interview, a seemingly simple question you might get asked is what motivates you. Money may be what first comes to mind, but it is recommended that you have a more thoughtful and detailed response. This is a time during the interview to show more enthusiasm while giving the interviewer a glimpse into your personality. Here are some suggestions on how you can create an honest, upbeat, and thoughtful response.


Find Out What Truly Motivates You

The first step is to think back on your previous roles and what you found to be the most exciting and gratifying aspects. Was it when you were learning new skills and furthering your abilities, was it coaching a co-worker, or was it seeing your sales numbers go up and up? This is a time for self-reflection and looking back over the years at what you enjoyed most at work. Once you’ve written out your list, see if any themes come up such as helping others. Take your time and enjoy the process, it can actually be a fun exercise and may help you decide what role you want in the future.


Tie it Back to the Job

You’re likely motivated by a few different things, so once you have that figured out, look at the role you’re applying for and see what feels the most relevant and would benefit the hiring company the most. This is the theme you’ll want to use if and when you’re asked about what motivates you in the interview. For instance, if you are applying for a role at a small start-up company, it would be good to bring up your passion for learning new things and taking on challenges since that’s the type of environment you would be working in.


Be Authentic, Upbeat, and Personable  

You’ll want to tie your answer to the role and company. Bring up the fact that the very thing that motivates you is why you’re so excited about this role and being able to do more of what you love and find gratifying. If you’re able to provide a story to go along with your response that’s even better. It will help you stand out and be more memorable if you can provide a real-life example. Additionally, if you can tie your response back with how it aligns with the company’s mission or vision that will show that you’d be a good cultural fit and that you’ve done your research on the company.


If you need any further ideas on real-life examples for this, Indeed has a great article with example answers which can help you start to think about what resonates with you so you can craft an honest and unique answer.