This question can throw off almost any candidate in an interview if they’re not prepared. It’s incredibly broad, and you can only truly effectively answer it if you know why it’s being asked. Thankfully, we’re here to help! We’ll cover why it benefits a company to ask this question, and how you should answer, after the break.
To begin, a company isn’t asking this to find out your lifelong career aspirations. They are however looking for what keeps you going day to day, especially in the position they’d like to hire you for. Knowing what drives an employee to do great work is something every manager would like to understand. It also reassures them that you’re not simply there for the money. Money is without a doubt considered in every job search. However, when you answer make sure you don’t focus on money as your only motivator. This will instantly discourage an employer.
Think about why they’re asking. They want to make sure there is enough of what motivates you present in this position to make you excel in it. If that motivation isn’t there, you won’t be a worthwhile employee. So when you come up with your answer, you want to think about what motivates you, what you’re excited by, and what is required for the job. When those three factors line up, you have your answer. While it can be hard to think of what pushes you to work harder, there is an easier way. Think about when you’ve found the most satisfaction in your past positions. Think of the days you would go home with a story you were excited to share with family or friends. Those are days on which you were motivated.
Other Factors Influencing Motivation
People are not just motivated by doing work they love. As we stated previously, some people are motivated by money, but don’t mention that. Others are motivated by recognition, promotions, and having access to the tools that allow them to do their job. These are all great motivators to bring up. However, you still want to be able to focus on some aspect of the work. Highlight the congruities between the job and what motivates you and then hit on other points. This illustrates why you would be a good fit, and also ensures they provide you with the motivation you crave. If you are able to further define these points with stories work your work history, even better. Follow the advice here and you will be well prepared to discuss your motivations.