what motivates you interview question

what motivates you interview question

How to answer what motivates you at work in a job interview with sample answers. 

What motivates you most at work? I’m sure you have heard this question before. What motivates you most is the most favorite question of the hiring managers. Why? Because it helps them catch you off guard. 

Yes, the primary job of an interviewer is to assess and understand your personality to ensure that you are a perfect match to the vision, growth plans, and culture of the company. Every interviewer knows, Most candidates prepare in advance for the questions. Listening to a carefully crafted answer is not going to help them understand the real you. 

Hence, the interviewers ask trick questions. A question that is designed to challenge your thought process. 

Why this question?

Every company has its own set of employee policies and motivational programs to bring the best out of the employees. The hiring manager is trying to figure out if the factors that motivate you are in line with the company’s programs and goals.  

This is one of those open-ended questions that have no specific answers. The best way to answer what motivates you most at work in the interview is to frame your answer in line with the company’s goals and vision. 

Ask yourself, what motivates you at work? Is it money, respect, power, or learning, and challenges? 

The moment you have the answer, you’d know what to say. Do you know what motivates me at work? Liberty, challenges, and opportunities to learn. 

But that’s not the case with everyone else, I surveyed a lot of individuals, I asked them what motivates them professionally? 70% of them said it’s money. Money motivates me the most. 

Among other things they said

  1. Learnings
  2. Opportunity to grow
  3. Respect
  4. Meeting new people
  5. Challenges, etc. 

Before we go ahead, I want you to ask 3 questions to yourself

  1. what motivates you personally?
  2. What motivates you professionally?
  3. What are you passionate about?

Don’t forget to let me know the answer in the comment section. 

Let me tell you, every employer I meet has asked me this question, how to motivate employees. Yes, they are all worried. This one question bugs them all. Every employer is looking for a highly motivated team. They all want to know how to motivate people at work. 

Hence this question. What motivates you at work?

Let’s find out how to answer the interview question what motivates you at work and impress the hiring manager.

Remember, The interviewer is trying to do just one thing. He is trying to figure out what makes you tick. What are the factors that make you go the extra mile and if they are in line with the company’s goals and culture? 

And it’s very important for them. For example, if you are motivated by challenges, or meeting new people, a data entry position is definitely not for you. 

A hiring manager’s primary job is to hire the right people for the right job. You can’t expect them to keep pondering over how to motivate a team. 

Whatever you chose to say, your answer will help the interviewer determine a great deal about your personality, and potential as an employee. 

For eg. 

There are two candidates, Mr. A and Mr. B

Mr. A is a team player and is passionate about making more connections and lead teams

Mr. B is a risk-taker and enjoys working alone. 

They both bring values to the company, and this question can help the interviewer identify the right person for the job. 

How to answer the interview question what motivates you at work in a job interview?

The secret of answering a job interview question is to prepare in advance. Start with detailed research on the company, the vision, goals of the organization, and the job description. The more you know about the company, the better you’ll be prepared. 

Now it’s time to note down the challenges and perks that the job has to offer. 

Once you have this information ready with you, ask yourself below mentioned questions

  1. What did you like the most at your last job
  2. What made you work harder
  3. When was the last time you felt proud of yourself at work
  4. Identify three things that you like doing the most

Once you have these answers ready, you’ll know what drives you. Keep these answers in your mind when preparing a suitable response to this question. 

So how would you answer this question?

Still confused, here are some carefully crafted examples of great responses to what motivates you at work. 

Sample Answer #1

I’m a salesperson, my passion for sales along with results drives me. I love deadlines, I prefer planning a robust sales strategy to meet my numbers. At my last job, our yearly sales targets were very aggressive, but I took it for a challenge, worked with my team, and developed an innovative way to generate more leads for my team and close more deals. it had been a true thrill to accomplish that.

Tip: The above answer shows that the individual is a hardworking employee and loves challenges. It shows you in a positive light, talks about your achievements and intellect. 

Sample Answer #2 (what motivates you for accounts executive)

I’m passionate about numbers. I’m inspired by diving into information. Give me an accounting page and questions, and I’m anxious to sort out what’s driving the numbers. At my present position, I set up the month-to-month examination report around sales, purchases & expenses. The information from these reports helps the management drive and decide business objectives for the next months. Having the ability to provide that kind of data and support is truly inspiring.

List 5 things that motivate you in the comment section. 

Sample Answer #3

I was responsible for managing a few large-scale projects for the company. I coordinated a complete overhaul of IT systems and carried out the work in record time. We came up with a robust process that enabled the team to achieve the set goals in time. The challenge of getting the entire project delivery ready in the shortest period of time was itself the biggest motivator. It helped us reduce downtime, save cost and improve efficiency by 35%. 

The interviewer might ask you, what are your top 3 motivating factors?

Here is a list of motivating factors that you can use to frame your answer

  1. Target oriented
  2. Training and mentoring others
  3. Learning new skills, technology
  4. Challenges
  5. Achieving numbers
  6. Team handling
  7. Meeting deadlines
  8. Finding solutions to complex problems
  9. Creating new programs, technologies, systems
  10. Process improvements

Tips on preparing the best answer for what motivates you at work

If you read the job description carefully, it gives you a glimpse of the skills and abilities required to excel in that role. Remember, the question demands to know what you enjoy at work. If you have the required skills and passion for it. The job is for you. 

Try to frame your answer around meeting deadlines, out-of-the-box thinking, helping others succeed, etc. employers love these kinds of answers. But hey, use these only if you really enjoy them. Unless it takes a minute to find out that you are lying. 

Also, never forget to compliment your answer with an example. A suitable example will help you establish credibility. Talk about an achievement, something you’re really proud of. Give an example of a time when you were given a challenging task and you met it. 

Make sure your answer demonstrates how you used your motivation to achieve more revenue, reduced cost, reduced TAT, improved efficiency, saved money, improved process, etc. 

The question, what motivates you is an opportunity to present yourself as an ideal candidate for the position.

What not to say

Do not make it about money: I know monetary benefits are a great motivator, however, talking about money in the interview can jeopardize your chances of getting hired. It’s better to talk about work-related motivators like innovations, challenges, team management, coaching and mentoring, achieving targets, getting rewarded for hard work, etc. 

Be clear & focused:  Try to keep your answer clear, concise, and to the point. Prepare your answer in advance, know what motivates you and avoid talking about unnecessary topics and information.

Do not exaggerate: Some people love talking about their achievements, role and their job, authority over others, and everything about them. Please don’t. The hiring manager is capable enough to find out if you are lying or exaggerating. 


This Job interview question “What motivates you at work” can be a great opportunity to showcase your strengths and skills. Use this opportunity to secure your chances. Prepare your answer around the job requirement, company culture, achievements, and strengths. Do not ramble, exaggerate and talk too much.