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5 Ways To Answer, “What Motivates You?” in an Interview

Job interviews routinely include a few trick questions. They appear like riddles in a fantasy story. To make it past the wizard’s lair, you need to handle queries like “what are your biggest weaknesses” or “tell me about a time you failed in life.”

“What motivates you?” fits into that category, largely because it requires a high level of self-reflection. You might get the same question in a therapist’s office. To answer in a meaningful way, you need to consider your decisions and the purpose that has led you down the path you’ve chosen for yourself. Deep talk for a conference room at 9 a.m.

There are ways to answer the question that provides your interviewers some unique insights about you, while still presenting yourself in the best light possible. Here are five ways to approach the question “what motivates you?”

Think of the Knowledge and Skills You’d Like to Obtain

Imagine your ideal career trajectory. Where would you like to end up? What’s the next step on that journey? What do you need in order to take that step?

Think of it like a video game. You need to master some skill or achieve some goal to get to the next level. What are you seeking on this level? The answer to that question provides one way to define your motivation.

Don’t Be Afraid of Ambition

Employers want you to be ambitious. No company wants an office filled with directionless drones. They want people who will push themselves to perform stellar work and who will develop their skills over time.

However, employers also want to know you can harness that ambition in a way that proves fruitful for them. Convince your interviewers you want to exercise your ambition within the firm, reaching personal success by providing success for the company.

Describe Your Love of Collaboration

Humans are social animals. Much of what we do is because we want other people to like and respect us.

Let that play a part in the discussion of motivation. Show the interviewers you enjoy collaboration. Discuss how you benefit from a social environment and how you gain professionally from working with a team.

Don’t Say “Money”

Employers know you want a paycheck. But remember: You’re not in it just for the money. You could have done anything for money. You are choosing this particular line of work, out of all the potential careers in the world, out of some motivation.

Focus on that distinction as you consider your response.

Use the Question as a Lead-In

Don’t linger too long on the philosophical aspects of the motivation question. Instead, use it as an excuse to pivot to other items you want to mention.

Relate an experience where your motivation pushed you to excel at a project or take the lead on a particular initiative. Use these concrete examples to show how you turn motivation into results, which is what the company was interested in learning in the first place.

Finding the ideal working environment provides a motivation in itself. You feel energized and encouraged, allowing you to contribute your best work and preparing you for longer-term career growth. A top-flight recruiting partner, like Recruiting In Motion, makes these kinds of positions possible.

Contact Recruiting In Motion to learn more.

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