How to Best Answer What Motivates You? Interview Question


“The gratification of overcoming an obstacle is my greatest motivator. For example, math has never been my best subject, but I opted to take calculus in college, even though it wasn’t required for my major because I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. The course wasn’t easy, and I spent many nights studying late, but I passed with an A. The feeling of accomplishment that comes with exceeding challenging goals is what drew me to a career in sales.”

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How To Answer “What Motivates You?” (With Examples)

. Usually, open-ended questions are used to better understand your personality, work style and qualifications in order to determine whether you would be a good fit for the role. “What motivates you?” is a popular open-ended question that you should be prepared to answer.

Consider what interviewers are looking for
There are a few things employers typically want to find out about you when they ask this question. Your answer should be unique to your experience, but it should also follow a general formula so that you provide the right information to the interviewer.

Be thoughtful
It helps to prepare your answer before an interview, so you have time to identify what a specific employer might want to know, come up with an honest answer and bring focus to your talking points.

Show your relevant qualifications:
While it might be tempting to discuss a variety of passions when answering this question, you’ll find the most success if you limit your answer to one or two specific motivators that also demonstrate your qualifications for this job.

How Not to Answer “What’s Your Motivation?”

Though we mentioned that honesty is key, there are some times when you should just keep your honest answer to yourself. Don’t be dishonest—but keep away from the answers below (even if you’d be joking):

Money. This is the load-bearing pillar unfortunately placed in the center of a dance floor that you and your interviewer must shimmy and shake around. We all know that, in the end, your paycheck is the primary motivating factor. And that’s fine—we all need to survive, after all. But dance around it.

Friends. Telling the HR director or recruiter that you have some pals there could definitely be a motivating factor for you, but it is also one they will most likely decline you for. Employers want to know that you care about the company and the projects you’ll take on. You’ll make some friends if you are hired, teamwork is crucial, but companies don’t want work to be seen as some type of social club. Leave your friends out of it.

The simplest way to stay on target is to think of this question like you would when introducing yourself to a date or love interest for the first time. Sure, some of these items might be icing on the cake, but you wouldn’t want to appear shallow, would you?

Pro Tip: Fortunately, there are a lot more possible answers than ones to avoid. However, there could be others to avoid that aren’t listed above. Do your due diligence and answer as honestly as you can, and you should be just fine.

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Other example responses to “What motivates you to do a good job?”

“My biggest motivation is family. They are my biggest source of inspiration and my strongest supporters as well. When I see my parents working, it gives me the drive to be like them. Their dedication to working is what motivates me to be like them. They are self-motivated individuals. Hence I try to imbibe their positivism into my life. I have learned from my father how to not give up on a tough client.

The essence is to go through the grind to really know what the other person wants. This excites me to take up greater challenges and risks without the fear of failure or backing out. My mother is the source of calm confidence. Knowing exactly where to push hard and where to slow down is something I have imbibed from her. They remain, my go-to people, when I feel under the weather or less motivated.”

what motivates you to do a good job

Example answer 2

“Success is what motivates me to do a good job. Knowing the fact that my hard work and perseverance will help me achieve greater professional success is what keeps me going. I feel that aligning the company’s vision and values with my own is one way to achieve that. When I know that my efforts are following the correct path, it encourages me to push more.

There might be instances of failure or stagnation but it does not demotivate me anyhow. On the other hand, I feel re-invigorated to perform even more. The taste of success after a failure is what keeps the fire going within me no matter what the circumstance.”

what motivates you to do a good job

Example answer 3

“Helping others and empowering people is what motivates me the most. It doesn’t matter whether it is a colleague, friend, or relative. There are times when the people around your need that extra drive to get going. I relish the opportunity to reach out to such people. It gives me a sense of confidence and belief that I can be of some help.

The idea that I might provide a solution to someone’s problem is what motivates me to do a good job. Understanding and empathizing with people is crucial. You do not want to make them feel inferior or incapable of solving their own problems. I simply try to show them an alternate and less resistant path as a solution to their difficulty.

This not only makes them feel better but also allows them to introspect and to think logically. I try to be positive myself. This allows me to instill the same optimism onto others when they need it the most. Lending a helping hand is about making the person feel upbeat, energetic, and positive.”

Example answer 4

“Working in a team and leading one, is my motivation to do a good job. United we stand, divided we fall has been my mantra for success right along. Working in a team has taught me so much more. It enlightened me and opened up my mind to a whole new world. The confluence of ideas, thoughts, and opinions encouraged me to know and learn from my peers. There was a time when I believed that I could do everything on my own.

With time I realized the magnitude of achievement possible with teamwork. It took me some time to get used to leading a team of varied individuals. Gradually I realized that it was more about dealing with their personalities and less about their skills sets. It was a challenge that I took up and gained valuable insights related to team building and motivation.

what motivates you to do a good job

Example answer 5

“Convincing people to buy products and services is my source of motivation. I had been in a sales job earlier. The best part of it was interacting with potential buyers. Selling is not an easy task and that is what made it lucrative for me. To work on a product, study about it, and then influence people to try it out is a challenge.

I enjoy working under these circumstances. The thrill of facing a tough customer or a new one is what drives me to do more. At times, individuals or even organizations do not know what exactly they are looking for. More so, they have little knowledge of the product or service being offered to them.

Example answer 6

“Learning newer things is what gives me immense motivation. I remember the time when I heard my friend playing guitar. I was highly impressed by it. So, I took his guitar, started watching guitar videos, and picked up the instrument within 3 months of continuous practice. There was another instance when I learned how to cook. I did this by scouring various recipes and helping out my mother in the kitchen. None of the examples which I mentioned was my forte. Only the willingness to learn a new trick or trade is what kept me going.

The very fact that I am adding to my knowledge base is a big positive for me. Also, utilizing my free time in a constructive way is my source of motivation to do a good job. I believe that learning should never stop. Given the level of competition that businesses face nowadays, it becomes imperative to constantly reinvent yourself by accumulating whatever usefully comes along the way.”

Example answer 7

“Beating deadlines is what motivates me to do a good job. This does not mean that I overlook the quality aspect. In my first job, I made it a point to complete most assignments before the stipulated time, with utmost precision. Not only did it impress my boss, but significantly impacted the organization’s profitability. Even, during my education days, I tried to complete projects well before the deadline.

That not only gave me time to re-evaluate them but also help my colleagues with their projects. Completing work before time gives me a sense of pride and achievement. Improving efficiency without compromising on quality along with having spare time is what motivates me to beat deadlines.