During your interview, there will be some questions that will catch your attention. Some interview questions are clear-cut, while others require a bit more thinking. For example, the interview question: What Motivates You? It can be considered philosophical and requires you to dig deep into what you want in life and how this job will help you get there.

So, when the interviewer asks the following question: What Motivates You? What is the hiring manager trying to understand about you and your intentions while working for them? To help you answer this question, we reached out to some hiring managers to hear what they have to say. What we learned will help you prepare a high-converting answer which impresses hiring managers and will help you land your next job. Let’s get started! 

To answer this question, we must first understand why hiring managers ask candidates the following interview question: What Motivates You? You see, the skills and experience you bring to a job are just one piece of the puzzle. Hiring managers are also interested in knowing if the factors that motivate you are aligned with the company’s goals, culture, and the role you are interviewing for. For example, suppose your motivation is selling products and solving customer problems. In that case, a routine data entry job will NOT be the RIGHT fit for you. So, if you are offered this job, will you be an employee who is happy, engaged, and motivated to perform your very best? 

Now that you know why hiring managers ask the following interview question: What Motivates You? Let’s prepare a high-converting answer that will make you stand out compared to other candidates who are interviewing for the same position.  

1) Research the Company and The Job Role

I can’t explain how many candidates forget to research the company and the job role. If you read through my content, where I answer other common interview questions, you will understand how much emphasis I put on researching the company and job role. Why? Hiring managers are looking for the best match for the job and company. They want a candidate with the RIGHT skills and experience to excel in the job. Therefore, hiring managers ask specific questions during the interview process to get more insight into your qualifications. Your answers MUST be aligned with the job role to increase your chances of a successful interview. So…  

Print out a copy of the job description and highlight the critical skills required for the job. Here’s an example:  


Research the company by visiting its LinkedIn page. Browse through the tabs like about, people, insights, events, and others. This will give you a better understanding of the company, and you can align your answer with the company’s culture and values.



2) What Motivates You? Or, What Motivated You Before?

The good news is that you are probably applying for a job in a field that you are passionate about. This means you have past experiences to learn from, so use them to your advantage. So, think about your previous jobs and what you found MOST gratifying about those job roles. Did you like doing one job more than another? And why did you pursue those jobs in the first place? We recommend that you start creating a list of your motivators at your previous job(s). For example, you can write something like:

– I’m motivated by helping others solve problems
– I get motivated when I know my team can be dependable on me to get things done.
– My motivation comes from designing innovative products
– My motivation is numbering and creating reports
– I get motivated when I learn a new skill or complete a training course
– I get motivated when I think about creative ways to market a product and/or service
– My motivation comes from knowing that I helped the company I work for meet its objectives/goals.
– a dependable team member and helped them meet deadlines.
– able to understand KPIs and optimize marketing campaigns

By reflecting on your experience, you can shape/align your answer for your upcoming interview. But here’s the thing you have to keep in mind:

Whatever motivation you decide to discuss, you want to ensure that it aligns with the job role you are interviewing for. You will learn how to do this in the next section – Number 3.

3) Choose a Motivation That Aligns with The Job

Hiring managers are interested in finding a candidate with the right KEY skills and experience for the job. So, ensure that answering every question the hiring manager asks aligns perfectly with the job requirements. This even applies to the following question: What Motivates You? As you learned earlier, hiring managers to ask you this interview question to determine how your motivations align with the company’s goals, culture, and the role you are interviewing for.

Choose a motivation that can be matched to the job description. For example, here’s a job description with the KEY skills highlighted.

Let’s use the following: “Customer-focused, results-oriented, and capable of building and maintaining relationships with internal and external customers.”.

Now, here’s a sample answer:

“I get motivated when I produce results because I know this helps businesses accomplish their core objectives. In addition, I understand how customers are vital to the success of every organization, so it is extremely gratifying when I’m able to answer a customer’s concerns and offer a solution to them that helps them solve any problems they are facing. For example, when working for the retail chain ABC company, I made it a point to ask customers the RIGHT questions to recommend the RIGHT products and services. Unfortunately, management was more concerned with how many products we could sell without being too concerned if the product was right for them. Soon the customer would return the product, and this is something I considered to be the wrong strategy. So, by building relationships with customers, they would come back to me and buy something without having to refund it at a later time. As a result, I was named employee of the month twice in the two (2) years I worked there.”

So, always align your answer with the KEY requirements for the job.

4) Be Specific and Honest

That’s right! Always be specific about what motivates you professionally and personally, then make a connection. Whatever motivation you choose to discuss in your answer, it is exceptionally IMPORTANT to be as specific as possible with examples included. Now, what does it mean to be SPECIFIC? Well, mention why this motivation excites you and how it improved you professionally and personally. And, when describing why you are excited about this motivation, it’s essential to be as honest as possible. For example, “My motivation helps me jump out of bed in the morning,” or “my motivation gives me a purpose in life because it’s gratifying knowing I helped people,” etc. You see, hiring managers want to hear how your motivation aligns with the job, but they also want to know how it makes you a better person every day…meaning how it motivates you as an overall person.

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Here are three (3) sample answers you can use RIGHT now in your interview or as a template to prepare your RELEVANT answer.

“I am the type of person who is driven by results and achieving the desired outcome. I firmly believe that for an organization to grow, it MUST meet its objectives. For example, when I worked at (ABC company), we had to submit a 6-month report summarizing our results and how close we were to meeting our KPI (key performance indicators). However, having our team submit reports after six months affected our ability to catch any performance issues earlier in the process. So I worked with my manager to plan team meetings on a bi-weekly basis so we could all ask questions and bring the project back on track if any barriers we felt would restrict us from hitting those KPIs. These bi-weekly meetings made us more efficient as a team and helped us produce the results we needed for the executive team.”

“What motivates me MOST is my desire to learn new skills and excel in different areas of my job. I’m driven by knowing that the job I’m doing will give me a chance to take on new responsibilities allowing me to grow professionally furthermore becoming a more significant asset to my team/organization. For example, at my previous job, while working in technical support, I had the opportunity to transition off the phones into training new employees. After I was asked to take on the responsibilities of a manager for 6-months, where I learned to manage multiple teams, assign schedules, and coach employees in areas, I felt needed improvement. All this experience has improved my ability to multitask and manage time more effectively and made me an employee my team can count on to take on more responsibilities when we have tight deadlines to meet.”

“I am driven by finding new and creative ways to make a process more efficient. Especially in this day and age, where a company’s growth and overall profit are determined by its ability to get things done right and ahead of schedule, we need to continue to evolve. Now, we can still develop new products and services, but we need to find creative ways to complete the process we have in place more efficiently. For example, at my previous job working for (ABC Communications) in customer service, when a customer purchased a product, they would go home to activate the device. However, if there were an error during the activation process, they would have to call the customer service team, who would then submit a ticket to the technical support team to take over the process and complete the activation. This process could take anywhere from 24-48 hours. This meant the customer would be out of service while the ticket was processed for a maximum of 2 days. However, I was given an opportunity for three months to be part of the processing team and work directly with developers and management. I took this time to present a new system where the first-level customer support team would have the ability to activate these modems, eliminating the need for the 24-48 hour wait in between. As you can conclude, this allowed for a faster turnaround time and better customer experience.”

Possible Follow-Up Questions

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