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How to answer “What motivates you?” in a job interview

By Courtney Jones

When you’re dwelling within the realm of the in-between (you know, the place where Job Seekers temporarily reside while in-between careers), beating the bots and scoring an in-person interview with an actual human can be enough motivation to spur one into full blown impress mode. But while candour and honesty are always appreciated in an interview, there are some responses that are less likely to impress and more likely to impose a higher probability of you not being hired. Try incorporating these tips to highlight your employable traits, and hone in any anxious, overzealous employment enthusiasm.

Know the motivation behind the motivation question.

It’s a broad question, but one that will zero in on your potential fit with a company’s corporate culture and beliefs. Hiring managers want to know what makes you tick, what kind of person you are and whether you will fit in on the team. Do your research, and have situational stories prepared.

Know their values, and align your answer.

If you’re interviewing at a not-for-profit, naming career advancement as your motivator isn’t the wisest idea. See where we’re going here? You should always mold your answer to the company at hand. Relating your motivational drivers to the job is your opportunity to connect the proverbial dots for the interviewer.

Incorporate your successes

When you discuss what incentivizes you to work, you’re capitalizing on a great opportunity to highlight your accomplishments. Depending on the nature of your role, explain factors such as challenges, results and recognition. Elaborating on these will demonstrate your value to the potential employer.

"I love building brand strategies. It's exciting to me to increase revenues and maximize marketing dollars with a powerful brand architecture. Last year, we were able to generate a 20% increase in our XYZ product line as a result."

NEVER use money as your motivator

Compensation is important to everyone, but admitting it’s your number one focus will turn off employers.

Remember these tips before going into your next interview and forget about ever answering the motivation question with any vague reference to “really needing a job.”


by Courtney Jones

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