What motivates you? This is a fairly common question at an interview. Regardless whether you’re a fresher or experienced job seeker, chances are that an interviewer might casually toss this question at you. And they want to hear a truthful and accurate answer.
Reasons Interviewers Ask What Motivates You
There’re various reasons why an interviewer will ask what motivates you. And there are multiple ways for how to answer what motivates you.
The first reason is because they wish to know the real reasons for you applying for that specific job at the organization. Because we all have some motives behind doing something.
The question isn’t intended to reduce your chances of getting the job. Instead, interviewers want to know why you’re applying for it, they might also ask you “Why Are You Interested In This Position?”
That simply means what about the role excites you and motivated you to apply. Even though you’re an experienced candidate you can come across such questions by the employer.
Even a fresher job seeker appearing for interview may have to answer this question. Such questions help the employers to get an insight about the candidate’s profile.
The second reason for asking this question is that interviewers wish to get some insights into your overall personality from your answer. Therefore, answering this question about what motivates you can help them shortlist you for the role.
And thirdly, interviewers might ask that question because they’re satisfied with responses to other questions. Now they would like to gauge how long you’re likely to serve the employer if given an opportunity.
They wish to know whether their organization would be able to provide adequate motivation that would help them retain you in their services for long.
Remember, the hiring process costs an employer anything between $4,000 and $25,000 by means of advertising a vacancy, receiving applications, shortlisting candidates, interviews and training for fresh recruits.
Therefore, no employer wants to lose an employee quickly since it adds to their staffing costs. Additionally, high rate of attrition also means that an employer gets a bad reputation in the job market. That’s what they wish to avoid when they ask what motivates you.
Finally, a few interviewers might ask this question about what motivates you because they’ve run out of questions. Or, because they’re unsure about what to ask or where the interview is leading. Often this question is asked to find your likes and dislikes too.
In any case, it would be worthwhile to be prepared to respond to this question to the best of your abilities. Hence, here’re some vital tips and tweaks that can help you answer this question.
Answering What Motivates You
These tips and tweaks that I’m writing about are from my personal experience in Human Resources Management. You could adapt your answer according to the role you’re applying for, skills, hobbies, education and other factors.
It’s best to answer this question truthfully and with complete honesty. This increases your chances of getting the job.
Prior Preparation for the Interview
The first thing to do to answer the question what motivates you is by preparing yourself. To do so, ask yourself what’re the things or triggers that motivate you. For some of us, money is the main motivator.
For others, it could be career growth combined with money. For many, it can be the thrill of meeting new people and facing various challenges.
Then there’re other motivational factors such as providing for the family, upgrading lifestyle, social status and so on. There’s an endless list of what motivates people.
However, since you’re going for an interview, find out exactly the motivators of your life. To do so, you can do a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis which is very common.
Or better still, use what’s known as the Fourth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) which states: “Made a searching, fearless and moral inventory of ourselves.” You needn’t be an AA member or alcoholic to analyze your motivators using the Fourth Step.
Once you’ve identified all things that motivate you, find out which ones are most relevant and will prove useful at work and for personal life. Among these, stick to one or two motivating factors. And use them to respond to the question.
Never Make Set Answers
Do not make any set answers. Meaning, don’t decide beforehand that you’ll speak about a specific thing that motivates you and recite how you’ll answer to the question about what motivates you.
Instead, just remember the motivational factors and continue analyzing them clearly. That’s because an answer that you could forget what you had learned by the rote at the interview, which would cause a poor impression.
Your answer should not sound like a recital. Instead, it should be spontaneous and original. Therefore, preparing a fixed answer is something best avoided.
Remember, this question about what motivates you can come during any phase of the interview. And if there’re more than one interviews, a recital of the same answer isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Instead, you might end up failing the interview and creating a bad impression on multiple interviewers. This could cause you to lose that excellent opportunity to work with an organization of your choice.
Use Money as a Motivational Factor
Meaning, you’ll have to be truthful and honest about what motivates you while answering this question. There’s no point in telling lies about your motivational factors merely to impress the interviewer.
Your lies might get you the job but at a later stage when you start working, demotivation might begin to set in. And this can prove disastrous for your job as well as your entire career.
Interviewers too seek an honest answer. Therefore, if your motivational factor is money and earning more income, be truthful about it.
After all, you’re there at an interview for a job that pays. You’re not at the interview to do charity. Therefore, be honest while speaking about money if that’s the main motivator.
There’s a reason why I’m highlighting money as a motivator here. For almost every human on this planet, money and getting rich is very important.
And it should be important for you too, regardless whether you’re a fresher applicant or with experience at some work. Therefore, include money as one of your motivational factors and do not feel embarrassed or shy to mention it.
That’s because speaking about money as a motivational factor sends a clear signal to the employer that you’ll definitely be looking for salary hikes after some time. That they cannot shortchange you because you’re a fresher or need a new job.
6 Tips to Answer What Motivates You
There’re as many as three different ways to answer what motivates you interview question. At an interview, you can speak of them one by one. As a rule, avoid jumbling up between these three.
However, you can find a common factor and state them. Remember, it’s not necessary to answer with only one motivational factor: you can use as many as you wish. But I suggest you stick to three only.
1. Start with Motivators for Work
Always start by speaking about what motivates you at work. It could be anything from meeting new people to opportunities of serving a large organization and creating an amazing career.
You could also speak about how that job for which you’re at an interview could help further your career while presenting opportunities to acquire newer skills necessary for your role.
That’s exactly what employers wish to hear. And by speaking about motivational factors that would help you at work, you’re giving them enough reasons for considering you for that job.
Here you could speak about things such as career objectives, acquiring new skills while working, professional goals and ambitions as well as money and promotions.
It’s perfectly fine to speak about these things. Actually, the interviewer would be very interested in such answers and will pay close attention to what you’re saying. And this increases your chances of getting the job because you’re sending feelers that you mean business.
2. Highlight Personal Motivators
While in HR, I would always look for personal motivational factors that drive a candidate too.
These are generally things that may sound ordinary such as efforts to provide a better future for the family, savings for retirement and good life in those golden years, higher education for kids and so on.
It’s worth noting that personal motivators are always a greater driving factor for every candidate including yourself. That’s because professional factors for motivation could change over a period of time. Personal motivational factors usually remain constant.
As a rule, every interviewer would love to hear about what motivates you in personal life. This gives them an idea as you where you’re heading. It also shows that you’re a responsible person.
Generally, personal motivational factors have equal importance and will also draw attention of the interviewer. Therefore, speak about them with confidence.
3. Speak About Motivation in Hobbies
Also, you can speak about what motivates you in hobbies, extracurricular activities and sports, among other things that you generally would do outside workhours. This provides a lot of insights to the interviewer about your overall personality.
For example, playing a sport indicates team work and drive for perfection. Social work means you care for the society.
Hobbies such as stamps and coin collecting indicate you could be good for a job that requires extensive traveling. Photography shows that you have an eye for detail and so on.
Therefore, use some motivational factors from your hobbies and passions too while answering the question about what motivates you.
In fact, I recommend that you do it at the interview since it leaves a good impression and helps the interviewer assess the necessary qualities for the role you would be playing at the organization if selected.
4. Mind Your Body Language
Always mind your body language when you answer what motivates you. That’s because most interviewers also observe body language of a candidate. Your body language can give you away.
If you’re lying about your motivational factors, the body language will betray you. However, when you’re truthful about it, you needn’t pretend. You will speak with a high level of confidence. And your body language will reflect that aptly.
You’ll sound more enthusiastic about answering what motivates you when you answer with complete honesty. You needn’t pretend or alter your body language: it will come to you naturally.
The only thing you need to do is add that extra punch in your words so that your message is driven home to the interviewer. This axiom applies to both- professional motivational factors as well as personal ones.
5. Never Speak About a Role Model
This is a common mistake that a lot of jobseekers commit without actually knowing it. Some candidates say they’re motivated by some or other prominent personality in politics or business or even ancient history. Now this is a blunder by any yardstick, if you ask my honest opinion.
The interviewer might have exactly opposite views. And when your views clash, the interviewer won’t betray what they feel. Instead, they might end up rejecting your application and failing you at the interview.
You can speak of role models only when citing examples of success during the interview. In fact, a lot of interviewers ask another question: Who’s your role model, during an interview.
Here you could safely mention the name of the person who’s your role model and state reasons for it. It doesn’t matter if the figure is controversial. However, never speak about dictators and political figures since it’s in poor taste.
At the same time, you should know a lot about the role model before you cite their examples. Merely saying that this person or that person is your role model won’t be enough. You’ll have to say why you admire them and speak a bit about their achievements.
6. Blend Professional & Personal Goals
And finally, blend your professional and personal goals to arrive at a common motivational factor. By doing so, you’ll be indicating that your career goals and personal ambitions are closely linked to one another.
The interviewer will immediately sense that you’re a no-nonsense person who will go to great lengths to serve the employer to best of your abilities while fulfilling your personal objectives too. It shows that you’re interested in that job for the long run rather than short stints.
Before concluding, I’ll add that answering the question what motivates you can never have a fixed answer. That’s because every woman and man on this planet has different motivational factors.
Though some may have similar motivational factors, they will have different needs and objectives to fulfill. Therefore, it’s not advisable to create a set answer. Instead, be spontaneous and truthful.
Never fib at an interview to land the job and you’ll most likely get it.