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What Motivates You?

Qualifications and relevant experience can only take you so far in life. But to really achieve things, you need to be driven and have ambitions.

When in an interview, you may be prepared for your potential employer to ask about your skills and knowledge, but when it comes to your motivation, you may be less prepared to answer.

So here is the best way to answer “What motivates you?” in an interview.

what motivates you

What is Motivation?

Motivation is our internal driving force that wants change; this could be in your daily habits, relationships, wellbeing, or in your career. It allows us to push forward and be our best selves and is dynamic, constantly changing once one goal has been reached or our situation changes.

Motivation does not just come from inside of you; however, your environment and social circle can heavily influence your motivations.

There are two different types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is influenced by factors outside the individual and can have incentives such as money, validation, and improving your social status. Intrinsic motivation is influenced by the individual, and incentives include personal gratification.

Why Do Employers Ask What is Your Motivation?

Motivation can carry you far in both your daily life and your career. Being skilled is half the battle, but to progress in your career, you need to have the motivation to work harder and smarter. When employers ask this question, they are trying to gauge how well you will perform in the advertised position, and they want the position to be filled by a productive worker who wants to be there.

what motivates you guide

What is Employee Motivation?

Motivation in the workplace can be different from motivation for personal goals. Yet, a company’s success is often linked to its employee’s motivation.

At work, what is your motivation? Bringing energy and commitment to a role will increase the company’s outputs and lead to its overall success. When answering this question in an interview, you want to show that your own motivation and enthusiasm will improve the company and that you take pride in your work.

Finding your Motivation

Prior to your interview, it is advisable to do some reflection on your past experiences to really explore what drives you. Here are a few tips on how to find your motivation.

Lack of Motivation

The first thing to do if you are finding it difficult to reflect on your motivations is to figure out why you lack motivation. This is easier said than done, but one of the most common reasons is being overwhelmed.

Stress can drain motivation, so think about what is overwhelming you and why it is important for you to do it. If it is not important, then it is time to make cuts! If it is important, then remind yourself why you need to do it and how it will help you achieve your goals.


Procrastination is another factor that drains motivation. Stress and procrastination are a vicious cycle; if your work lacks clarity on how to proceed, you may retreat into an unrelated task or social media. However, the work does not go away and the longer you spend procrastinating, the more overwhelmed you feel.

To help with this, you can break down larger tasks into smaller doable ones; a small step forward is still progress and will eventually lead to project completion.

what motivates you answers

Goal Setting

Now you have addressed anything that is holding you back; it is time to dream big! Aim high but remember to be realistic. Once you have selected your big dream, break it down to mini goals, habit changes, and events that can get you there. Do not be vague; setting a mini-goal of waking up earlier is not going to help you. Pick specific, actionable goals such as waking up at 6.30 am every day.

Getting Support

Motivation can be difficult to keep when you do not have anyone to share your goals with. Find a friend or family member and share your goals with them; together, you can help keep each other on track.

It also helps to have someone who understands you if you have to make sacrifices in order to achieve that goal. If your friend knows you are trying to get a promotion, they will be more forgiving if you have to reschedule social events in order to work late.

Motivation is not Constant

Recognizing that motivation comes and goes is key. Do not beat yourself up if you slip up one day. Acknowledge it and try again the next day. A bad day at work might make you want to leave early, and that is okay! In the long run, a slip up here and there will not impact your goal; just make sure you reset for the next day and try to do your best.

How to Answer in an Interview

Now that you have found your motivation, it is time to structure your motivations to answer in an interview. Here are some common mistakes and tips in order to excel during your interview.

Mistakes to Avoid

Unrealistic Motivations

Achieving targets maybe your motivation, but making claims that are exaggerated or are dishonest will be noticed by the employer. You have to sell yourself but be realistic and back any claims you make with evidence, such as times you overcame challenges to achieve high targets.

Focusing on Money

Okay, let’s be honest, most people’s main motivation for working is the money and benefits it gets them. This may be true of yourself, but you do not have to tell your potential employer; they already know. An employer wants someone who will enjoy working within the company and improve the team overall; money will only motivate an employee for a short time.

what motivates you ans

Negative Talk

Motivations should be positive things! Negative talk can not only impact your own performance but also all those around you. Think positive, be positive and discuss things you enjoy doing along with the positive attributes you bring to the team.

Tips To Remember For Your Interview


We have mentioned it before but do reflect on your motivations prior to your interview. Align these with the company’s own values and those that would benefit the job you are applying for. So, double-check that job description!

Past Experiences

It is really reassuring to employers if you can back up any claims you make with relevant experience. Knowing you excelled in your previous position will give employers confidence that you can excel in this role as well. Not all experiences have to be work-based ones but do make sure they are relevant.

Be Authentic

Employers will see right through dishonest statements, so be honest with your motivations. Employers are far more interested in the potential you have than the highly scripted answer you have prepared in advance. Picking real motivations will allow your true potential to shine through.

Example Answers

Below are some example answers you can use and adapt to fit your own motivations.

Example 1:

“I get my motivation from working in a team, and I have come to realize that encouraging, supporting, and leading others is where I get the most satisfaction. I discovered this when my team was set an exceptionally high sales target the one month; instead of feeling discouraged, we all worked together to come up with a strategy to achieve it.

Not only did we achieve our target, but we were the highest performing team in the region.”

Example 2:

“Achieving goals is where I draw my motivation from. I enjoy setting myself challenges and gain great pride when I achieve these.

Knowing that each task or challenge will get me one step closer to my career goals is really inspiring and encourages me to push more. This was reflected in the increase in responsibilities I gained in my previous role; my employers knew they could rely on my self-motivation to get the job done.”

Example 3:

“Gaining new skills is what really drives me. Seeing myself improve within a new position as I gain more knowledge about the sector is always motivating.

During my time in my previous position, I was always one of the first to put myself down for courses in order to improve my skillset; I believe continuously learning allows you to be more open and innovative in the workplace.”

Looking for More Advice or Preparation Tips?

We’re here to help; just check out our tips for interviews with our Answering Tell Me About Yourself in Interview, Why Do You Want to Work Here and Why We Should Hire You, or even How to Answer What is Your Greatest Strength?

In addition, we also have What Is Your Work Style, What Are Your Career Goals, How Do You Handle Stress, How Do You Handle Conflict, as well as What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment? Or, you can always purchase books such as Answering Tough Interview Questions For Dummies or Interview Like A Pro in 2022.

The interview is important but will never happen without a great resume. So, take a look at my guides on How Long Should A Cover Letter Be, How To Write An Introduction Letter, How To Write A Letter Of Interest, How To List Education On A Resume, How To List References On A Resume, Most Important Skills To Put On A Resume, and Job Titles On Resume for some helpful insight.

Final Thoughts

Motivation is a fickle thing. It comes and goes and makes us question a lot of our decisions, but it is also our powerhouse driving us forward and creating change.

Interviewers want to know that you will be driven in the role you are applying for and that this drive aligns with the company’s culture. Although interviews are a stressful experience, if you prepare in advance, you are sure to succeed. In fact, maybe what will actually motivate you will be this preparation!

All the best in finding your Motivation!

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About Calvin Miller

Calvin has over 20 years of experience in a leading employment agency in Tucson, Arizona, and is passionate about finding the perfect position for everyone who uses the company’s services.

He lives with his wife, Annette, and their two sons Jake and Joseph.

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