The Best Way To Approach The ‘What Motivates You?’ Interview Question

The Best Way To Approach The ‘What Motivates You?’ Interview Question

There are a lot of questions you should expect in an interview, but sometimes the questions are so broad you don’t know how to answer them on the spot. A little self-reflection before your interview can prepare you for one of the most open-ended questions you might run into.

Photo by Samuel Mann

So, what motivates you? You could probably list a lot of things. The problem is most of the things on that list aren’t necessarily the best answer to give to a potential employer.

Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert and the author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant, suggests you do some self-reflecting on your work before you meet for the interview:

If you don’t have a plan, you might inadvertently offer a vague answer — making you appear unmotivated or disinterested, or you’ll simply look like a deer in the headlights… Commit to writing what gets you up in the morning when you think about work. What types of projects have given you the greatest job satisfaction, and why? When in social situations, what do you talk about when you’re inspired about your job?

The more specific you can be about your motivation for what you do, the better. Don’t give them a canned response like “I like working with people” or “I have a passion for sales”. What about working with people makes you excited, and why do sales matter to you? Remember, you’re trying to convince them that you’re the right person to fix all their problems. Explain what will keep you going no matter the course.

Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive In Your Job [Amazon via Business Insider]


  • Money motivates me. Especially on contract. The better I work the more I get paid.
    I don’t work for fun I work for money.

  • “making you appear unmotivated or disinterested” Disinterested is good in lots of jobs, where you need to weigh evidence without an ‘interest’ or prejudice. Maybe the author means ‘uninterested’ which means you couldn’t care less.

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