"What Motivates You at Work?"

"What Motivates You at Work?"

One of the main questions that interviewers ask during a job interview is, "what motivates you at work?" This question typically is meant to help the potential employer understand you more as a person, giving insight on what you value and enjoy doing, how you would fit into a team-based work environment, and what bothers you. When you answer this question honestly, it also helps the interviewer connect with you on a deeper level by understanding more of what you care about and why you are looking to work in a specific position or with the company.

You can touch on your professional style, such as whether you prefer working in a team-based atmosphere or a quiet and individual environment. Some types of jobs will have deadline-based work, so think about whether this motivates you or if you struggle under pressure. If you do succeed well with deadlines, talk about specific examples from your past professional experiences where you set or received deadlines and felt motivated by meeting the timeline. When you are considering how to answer the question of what motivates you at work, you can also discuss the skills you have developed through personal and professional achievements, and how these will tie into the job for which you have applied.

When a potential employer asks this question, he or she is usually not asking about your ultimate career aspirations and goals, so steer clear of talking about where you want to go next. Instead, focus on the motivation that you will have while working in the job at hand. Another topic to avoid as a motivator is money, even if that is one of the main things that gets you to work in the morning. Making compensation your key focus is a major turn-off for most employers, so talk about fulfillment in your career and successes you have had in the past instead of emphasizing your need to earn an income.

Some sample answers for this question include:

  • I am motivated by deadlines and work well with a clear timeline in place. Meeting a deadline helps me feel like I have accomplished a goal and keeps me more motivated to continue to exceed expectations. At a previous job, I was planning an event and made myself a schedule for each task to make sure we had plenty of time to check all details.
  • My main motivation comes from providing excellent service to every customer with whom I come into contact. I look for opportunities to improve my customer service skills so that each person I interact with will have a positive experience.
  • I feel motivated by leading a team and helping each member grow. In past employment opportunities, I have been able to develop management plans and create goals that we could achieve together, allowing us to later celebrate our successes.

When you come into an interview feeling prepared with clear examples to use, while also maintaining a positive and upbeat tone about the things that help motivate you to do well at work, it will make it easier to maintain a calm attitude when answering the questions they present to you.