What Inspires You: 12 Answers to This Interview Question

In work and play, we’re all driven by something. Something is pushing us out of bed in the morning to get to work. And no, it’s probably not our deep-rooted sense of responsibility and obligation. There’s a reason why we choose specific jobs, indulge in certain hobbies, and learn weird things. Beyond the surface, there’s something that inspires you to work on something that matters to you. In this post, we’ll explore why employers want to know what inspires you, how you should answer what inspires you, and we’ll share 12 answers you can respond with to this interview question about inspiration.

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Why do employers ask ‘What inspires you?” in interviews?

1. They want to understand your motivations

Employers ask ‘What inspires you’ in interviews to understand your motivations. They want to know what’s going to motivate you when things at work get challenging. What will be your motivation when you have a bad day or go through a rut? What’s the one thing driving you to want to work in this specific role? Is it something with the mission or with the role itself? Is it a curiosity to dive into a new field and learn a whole new skill set? They want to understand what inspires you to help understand what your true motivations are.

2. They want to understand your values

A lot of companies look for employees who have shared values. Companies are so obsessed with their values they often share it on their job descriptions or on their website so you can truly understand who they are. To attract like-minded people to the company, they share their values publicly. If your values align with theirs, you’ll be a better culture fit. Most companies look to hire candidates that fit the culture, so that people can dive into the work without hassle.

3. They want to see who you truly are

The average interview lasts between 10 minutes to an hour. It’s hard to know if someone is worth hiring within such a short period when interviewing candidates back to back. The interview question, “what inspires you?” is all about digging deep into understanding who you are as a person. Your motivations in life shape who you are, what you’ve achieved, and what you will continue to accomplish in life. Knowing about your inspirations helps a hiring manager see your capabilities and what’s possible when they hire you.

dream big inspiration

How should you answer ‘what inspires you’

1. Research the company

Like mentioned earlier, this question could help determine whether or not you’re a culture fit at the company. People are looking to see if you align with the values and philosophies of the company. Before any interview, you should research the company’s about us page and look for clues as to what kind of person this company hires to see if you’d be a good fit for them. When practicing answering this question, you want to be true to who you are while still connecting your answer to who the people at the company are. Bridging the gap between what inspires you and why that matters to this specific hiring manager at this exact company.

2.  Stick to one theme

Instead of naming off several things that inspire you, choose to focus on one thing. Pick the one thing that’s truest to who you are and what drives you. Pick one thing that you can talk confidently about. Tie in a personal story of triumph or success to what inspires you. You might tell a story about how your daily walks in nature inspire your best ideas. Then, tell an anecdote about what great idea you executed on based on that nature walk. You’ll want to tie it to an accomplishment you’ve had or a really compelling story about how what inspires you motivates you to achieve things or complete hard tasks.

3. Rehearse your answer to what inspires you

With all interview questions, you’ll flow better if you rehearse your answers. Practicing your answer to what inspires you will help ensure that you’ve got the right story to share and you can tell it with ease and confidence. People don’t rehearse for interviews as much as they should. It’s not something you practice once for an hour and forget. It’s setting hours to practice interview questions every single day when unemployed or job searching.

the best is yet to come

What Inspires You: 12 Answers to This Interview Question

1. Achieving hard goals

For the go-getters and overachievers, what inspires you is often the challenge and thrill of achieving hard goals. Telling stories about how in the past you’ve had to hit what felt like impossible targets but managed to hit those numbers with dedication and practice can be a great way to position yourself in an interview. You’ll want to use a personal anecdote of a hard goal you’ve been faced with and what it felt like to achieve it. And how that feeling drives you to continue to challenge yourself to do the hard things.

“When I first started working in content marketing, my boss announced our goal was to get 1,000,000 views in a one year period. Considering we were only getting 120,000 views annually at the time, it felt like an impossible task. But we ended up achieving the 1,000,000 views goal. We had a mini team celebration and were so inspired by what we achieved, we wanted to see how far we could continue to take things. And by the time I left the company, I had brought in 30 million views in a single year with content that I had personally written. Once you achieve the first big milestone, you get so much adrenaline and momentum going that your brain unlocks negative thinking and you achieve things you never thought were possible.”

what inspires you

2. Successful people

Sometimes it’s a little bit less of what inspires you but who inspires you. There are so many successful people out there achieving great things in life. How you see that person and the personal anecdote about them that you share about them will showcase how you want to operate or what you value.

“The person that inspires me the most is the Spanx founder Sara Blakely. Like a true entrepreneur, Sara Blakely started her business at home. She would go to manufacturer after manufacturer explaining her idea and getting laughed at. But she was relentless and kept persisting despite adversity. Eventually, she landed her product in stores. And her persistence continued. She’d ask her friends to go to the store and buy the product so that buyers would keep ordering from her and she’d keep her shelf space. She became a billionaire through her hustle, determination, and persistence. I approach my work with that same mindset. To keep going against all odds and to never give up on something you truly believe in.”

Sara Blakely

3. Learning new things

Those with a growth mindset are obsessed with learning. When people criticize them or give them negative feedback, they channel it towards becoming the best version of themselves instead of crumbling. People who love learning new things will often tell you about the cool things they’re learning in their spare time. They’ll showcase projects they worked on or things they’ve built.

“What inspires me the most is learning new things. I graduated from school over a decade ago but I’m constantly challenging myself to learn. I read books for two hours each night. And I’m currently doing self-guided online learning for a Toronto-based robotics program. I spend my Saturday mornings doing classes and my Saturday afternoons building robots. I know this role has nothing to do with robotics but I wanted to challenge myself to develop more technical skills to become a more well-rounded tech employee.”

learning robotics

4. Growing professionally

Growing professionally can mean growing into a leadership role or expanding your skill set within your current role. Not all growth is based on career advancement as not everyone wants to lead a team. You might be interested in a specific job task you’ve never done before that’s listed on your job description but isn’t a main priority of the role.

“I’ve worked in this field for 10 years and I’m in awe at how much things keep changing. With economic changes, AI advancements, new competitors, and changing trends I’m constantly excited by the idea of being challenged to grow in new ways. What inspires me is finding new ways to grow professionally with all the constant changes to the industry. I saw that your company uses tools I’ve never used before as I’ve used competing products instead, but I’m so excited by the possibility of learning these tools to continue having a positive impact on my professional growth.”

5. Helping others

When it comes to what inspires you, sharing that you love helping others can be a positive way to highlight one of your values while connecting it to the business you hope to serve. Some businesses have a better impact on helping people than others. For example, charities, social cause businesses, and businesses that solve big problems are all good examples of the types of businesses you’d share this value with people.

“What inspires me most is helping people. If you look at the last few companies I’ve joined, they all help people make money. My family struggled financially growing up, so it’s almost like a personal mission of mine to help people achieve their goals of financial freedom and independence. I love working with companies that help solve people’s money problems. My brain is constantly thinking of new ways to help more people through new product ideas that bring them closer to having the financial freedom they deserve.”

what inspires you - helping people

6. Solving complicated problems

Maybe what inspires you is solving complex problems. The challenge of actively using your brain inspires you to think in new ways. Maybe you learn how to think more laterally. Or truly outside the box. If this is what inspires you, you probably have a growth mindset. After all, it’s the challenge that causes you to grow. And by mentioning this in an interview, you’ll be able to help your new team solve big problems they haven’t figured out yet, making you a great asset.

“As a data scientist, I often have to find patterns, mistakes, or trends within the data and simplify that information for people who aren’t as data savvy. I love looking deeply into data to solve problems that companies struggle with, such as issues with high churn or customer retention. Solving complicated problems inspires me as I get so motivated doing deep thinking about data.”

7. Becoming the best version of myself

At some point in our lives, we double down on trying to evolve into a better version of ourselves. When this moment happens, it’s hard to be inspired by anything else. Most of us start out in comparison games, trying to one up each other. But when you stop playing those games, and are simply trying to make a younger version of yourself proud of you, you become unstoppable. That’s when your growth starts skyrocketing. Using this as an answer to what inspires you can lead to great stories of personal growth.

“I was recently talking to a friend about how much we’ve both changed since we first met 16 years ago. It made me realize how much fun I have becoming a better version of myself. What inspires me most is crafting myself in ways that I hope to evolve in. I work really hard to build myself in ways that would make past versions of myself feel genuine joy at figuring things out, living an even better life than what a past me hoped for. If you hire me, you’ll see this clearly in how I treat colleagues, how hard I work at experimenting in my craft, and the kind of results I’ll achieve.”


8. Building something bigger than myself

For so many entrepreneurial people, what inspires them most is building something bigger than themselves. Building a business or a tool or something that brings people together can be such an enriching and meaningful experience. Trying to create a product that outlives you and succeeds can be one of the biggest accomplishments to strive for. Whether you’re the original creator or part of the team building something bigger than yourself can allow you to create a legacy for yourself through your work.

“What inspires me is helping small businesses transform into mega brands. Watching a business grow into an empire that the media talk about, strangers invest in, and millions of people actively use is what drives me to get out of bed every day and put out my best work. I’ve had so much fun building brands into something bigger than myself. It blows my mind at what’s possible when you truly work hard to put your best foot forward and you just never give up.”

building a house

9. Seeing people living to their potential

If what inspires you is seeing people living up to their potential you’d probably make a great leader. The role of a mentor or guide can be highly sought after from people hiring for leadership roles. If you’re being asked what inspires you in a leadership interview, relating your answer to your leadership style and how you help people grow or solve problems can be a great way to land your next role. People do look for compassionate leaders who actually take people’s careers seriously to help their team develop to their full capabilities.

“What inspires me most is seeing people living to their potential. In my first leadership role, I had a difficult employee who wasn’t coming close to hitting their targets. I spent weeks trying to approach the problem from different ways. I ended up mentoring them in the craft to help them level up their skill set. And three months later, they were the top performer on the team. I felt so much joy from seeing this person having their breakthrough, that it completely shaped a new leadership philosophy for myself.”


10. The beauty of life

There’s so many beautiful parts of life that can inspire you. Maybe it’s a song you sing to yourself to get out of a rut and push forward. Maybe when you go for a stroll in nature and see birds, you come up with your best ideas. Or channeling all your creativity into art helps you see new possibilities or problem solve. You could become inspired by watching your family grow. There’s so many beautiful things in life that you can draw inspiration from.

“This may sound strange, but whenever I watch a Broadway musical, my soul comes alive. After watching an engaging show, my brain comes up with ideas for projects or ways of approaching things. When I’m watching a play, my brain truly disconnects from work. But because you’re watching it live, there’s this theatrical element that makes you think bigger and dream about what’s possible in life.”

show curtains

11. New ideas and perspectives

We can all learn from one another. People often turn to books to learn new ideas, ways of thinking, or ways of looking at things to forge new connections for themselves. Working cross-functionally on a team, you’ll likely be surrounded by people who all view a certain thing from a very specific lens that varies from others. In an interview for a role where you’ll be required to collaborate with a lot of different people, this could be a good answer to give to what inspires you.

“What inspires me most is hearing new ideas and perspectives. I’m constantly in awe at hearing things from a lens I’ve never considered before. I often read books written by people with life experiences that are vastly different from mine to learn new ways of thinking. I tend to follow people on social media with non-traditional thinking views to help me look at new ways of solving problems or just approaching life in general. I’m excited by the idea of possibly joining a large company with so many different types of people with their own unique ways of approaching things.”

12. People who overcome adversity

When answering the interview question, what inspires you, you might choose to give an answer about overcoming obstacles or adversity. When something seems impossible, you need to find new ways of approaching the problem. The thrill of the challenge will get you looking at something in countless ways. But when you finally figure it out and get to the other side, there’s a huge sense of fulfillment that comes alongside it. Being inspired by people who overcome adversity reminds us that the only limit is our thoughts (and we can change those).

“I was watching a video of an amputee at the gym and I was stunned at how despite not having an arm, they were so athletic. It inspires me to see people not letting anything stop them in life. They don’t let setbacks, obstacles, or missing limbs stop them from achieving the things they want to achieve. It makes me want to push myself to go harder and work to overcome obstacles in my own life instead of being defeated by them.”

what inspires you


What inspires you will be very personal to you. Be true to who you are and share stories that reflect who you are as a person. If you’re currently interviewing at various companies, you might want to check out Huntr’s AI mock interview questions that give you interview questions based on a job description. Plus, you can track all your interviews with Huntr’s job tracker to securely store all job details in one place. Never worry about taken down job listings again. Sign up for Huntr today!

Nicole Martins Ferreira

Nicole Martins Ferreira

Nicole Martins Ferreira, Senior Writer at Huntr, brings a rich background in marketing, tech, and ecommerce to craft insightful content on job search strategies and career advancement. With experience from Super Magic Taste to Shopify, she excels in creating engaging, actionable advice for job seekers.

Nicole's expertise in SEO and content marketing, honed across diverse roles, enables her to effectively guide individuals through the complexities of the job market. Her contributions at Huntr are vital, offering readers valuable tips and strategies to navigate their professional journeys successfully, making her work an invaluable resource for job seekers everywhere.

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