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How to Answer the Question “What Motivates You”?


Prepare for an interview and you are sure to encounter a question like ‘what motivates you?’ or ‘what inspires you to achieve your goals?’ You must have come across such questions often in an interview.

Some individuals manage to answer it right at the spur of the moment while some others wonder why the question has been posed in the job interview.

Every question has a purpose behind it and if you understand why the question has been posed, answering becomes simple.

What motivates youType of Job and its impact on the answer:

There are many diverse job fields and the requirements in each field is completely different.

The interviewer tries to find out whether you are an ideal candidate for his firm by asking questions like this. The answer expected for the same question may be different for different job interviews.

Do not get misguided by the question and answer in a manner that suits the present job requirement.

1. Marketing:

If you are applying for a marketing job, your answer should not just reveal your attitude but also reveal your ability to market yourself.

People often quote success stories of contemporaries in job interviews. A shrewd interviewer may even look at it as your failure in achieving things that people of your age have achieved.

The statement may thus act against you. You may instead say something like ‘when I achieve the highest targets, I feel motivated to achieve similar results next time but when I don’t achieve the desired targets, I get inspired to alter my strategy’.

This shows your never give-up attitude which is sure a plus in marketing.

2. Sales:

A sales job requires people who can sell products. Your answer should show that you cannot just exhibit your positive traits but also convince them to hire you.

This is the next stage and here you need to be sure of your abilities and plus points. Your answer should be phrased to highlight your plusses.

3. Management:

management job The management jobs involve various levels of managing which includes organizing, planning, negotiating, administering and delivering.

The recruiters are in search of a person who can deal with all these tasks without much difficulty. Make sure you give an answer that explains your abilities in managing.

You may reply ‘ I get motivated when I have a team eager to support me with their unique ideas and effort. I have been fortunate to always be backed by the best colleagues and teammates when we planned projects in colleges and my previous jobs.’

This reply shows that you are a good leader and know how to manage a team of intelligent minds.

4. Human Resource:

The Human Resource department has to shoulder the responsibility of hiring the right candidates for a particular designation, hone them with proper skills and then make sure they have no problems while working in the organization.

If you want to be one of the Human Resource Executives, make sure you reflect the human side in you.

Tell the recruiters how you get motivated by examples of great people. You can quote examples of some great leaders and say you are motivated by thoughts of such great thinkers.

For instance, you may say that you believe in Mahatma Gandhi’s great philosophy. You may quote that he rightly stated ‘You must be the change you see in the world’.

You may add that you do not wait for someone else to be a motivation. You start acting on your beliefs to make this world a beautiful place.

5. Finance and Accounts:

Finance and accounts are fields where the recruiter tries to assess your calculating power. Your answer should reveal that you have a great eye for profits and losses. These are not fields that hunt for creativity or human side.

Your answer should show that you adhere to set principles. Phrase and answer that is simple yet wisely thought.

Purpose of ‘What Motivates You’ Interview Question:

The same question may be posed to understand a different aspect of you as an employee. There are many facets revealed through a single answer. Here are some common factors that the recruiters try and evaluate.

1. Your knowledge about the world:

knowledge about world Some fields may require knowledge about the latest happenings and the question may try to understand your outlook on the current events.

2. Your knowledge about the industry:

Knowledge about the industry plays an important role in getting you the right job. A person who is not aware of the current trends may really not be the best pick for a certain profession.

3. Your vision and ambition:

Ambitious people tend to achieve more not just for themselves but for their firms too. The organizations are always in the lookout for ambitious candidates.

4. Your creativity:

Creativity In fields like designing, interiors, marketing, fashion and décor, creativity of the person can prove effective in getting better results.

If you are applying for a creative position, make sure to reveal your creative streak through your answer.

5. Your sense of humour:

People tend to listen to you if you have a good sense of humour. Make sure you reveal this aspect in you when you answer questions like ‘what motivates you?

6. Your attitude:

There are many candidates who give up easily. There are others who get nervous when they do not know the answer to a question. The question may be asked just to know your attitude and approach.


Individuals usually get motivated to achieve a certain goal because they wish to earn money and attain fame. Some individuals have their family to look after and that is another factor that motivates them to perform better.

While these are the ground realities, there are few professions that seek employees who are family oriented or money oriented. It thus becomes essential that you frame your answer to suit the industry.

Do not conceal your true intention or motive but make sure that you coin the sentence in a pleasant manner. Answer so that you stay honest but the interviewer hears what he is expecting from an ideal candidate.