What Motivates You: 14 Things to Share in an Interview

Preparing for an interview gives you an opportunity to plan out your answers instead of being surprised by them when they arise and the pressure is on. One of the most common interview questions is, “What motivates you?” Hiring managers are genuinely eager to know how they can boost your motivation, keep you engaged, and retain you as an employee. By answering this question truthfully, you’ll gain access to what you need to be successful as your hiring manager will use this strategy to motivate you as you onboard at the company. So, let’s dive into 14 different answers to the ‘what motivates you?’ question.

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What Motivates You: 14 Things to Share in an Interview

1. Learning something new

Highlighting your growth mindset in an interview is a great way to make a first impression. Showing that you’re motivated by learning something new is a good way to showcase that you could be a good fit for the role. You’ll want to pick something that isn’t the core part of the job, but still related. You could look at the job description to pick out a minor skill you’d like to further develop or expand upon. Learning a new skill includes soft skills too if there’s something you’d like to learn. For example, you might be applying for leadership roles without leadership experience. If you have years of experience in your craft you might be looking to learn new skills like leadership to help you further develop your skills. You don’t want the thing you’re looking to learn to be the exact role for a job you’re applying to. For example, if you’re applying for a content marketing role, you don’t want to say you want to learn how to create content. However, if the role says you need to use Asana in the role, you might say you’re looking to learn different tools than you’re used to using for the role. Mentioning that you’re looking to use new tools is typically a safe option to mention when highlighting learning opportunities as what motivates you.

what motivates you

2. Growing in your career

When interviewers ask, “What motivates you?” mentioning that you’re interested in career advancement signals ambition. Ambitious people often help companies get great results. Talking about your career aspirations to a hiring manager can help identify if you’re a good fit for a company. If you’re hoping to grow into a leadership role in two years while interviewing for a senior position, hiring managers might help you develop your skills to make that goal a possibility for you. It helps ensure you’re put on the right track. Alternatively, if you’re interviewing for your first leadership role, mentioning career growth opportunities could be a good tie in. In companies with flatter structures, such as small organizations, mentioning wanting to grow in your career might get you rejected. Ultimately, if your goal is to grow in a role and you get rejected, that’s good. You won’t feel trapped in a role that’ll hold you back. So being truthful about what motivates you will help ensure you’re at the right place that’ll lead you towards career advancement.

3. Having a positive impact by helping others

There are many roles where having a positive impact, making a difference, and helping others is a good example of what to share when talking about what motivates you. Nurses, instructors, coaches, customer service representatives, counselors, librarians, and more work in a world where they need to interact with people. They also typically work with people who need support with something. If you’re interviewing for a role where you’ll need to have the social skills to provide compassion and support to others, highlighting your wanting to make a difference as your key motivation could be a great way to position yourself.

helping someone

4. Meeting new people

In roles where you’re constantly interacting with others, such as sales, agency roles, real estate agents, or customer success managers, meeting new people can be used as an example of what motivates you in an interview. Some people are more extroverted than others and gain real joy from interacting with people. In roles, where you need to build relationships for your success, using this as a main motivation could help you showcase your extroversion and overall fit for the role. Someone who prefers working alone isn’t going to share that they’re motivated by meeting new people. But those in client relations or sales roles, showcase that they're a good fit for a job when they show how deeply they care about people and getting to know them well.

5. Appreciation at work

The number one reason why people leave their jobs is often due to a feeling unappreciated by their managers. People often work tirelessly at work to help hit their results. They work so hard and when the recognition never comes and the goal post keeps changing, they feel discouraged and eventually leave a role. If you know deep down that what motivates you is feeling appreciated at work, you should vocalize it in an interview. If the hiring manager says “Oh you’ll get tons of appreciation here, we like spreading those high fives around” you know this role is a contender. If they shrug off your interest in appreciation, they’ll likely not be the type of person who knows how to make their team feel valued.

6. To overcome challenges

Climbing a mountain can be a rewarding experience, especially when you finally reach the top. But the upward climb is often strenuous and filled with challenges. For some people, the grueling climb of life is what motivates them. Sure, the top of the mountain is a beautiful sight, but working collaboratively with others towards a goal and facing challenges can be such a wonderful experience. People who are motivated by challenge, obstacles, and problem solving can share this as a motivating factor for them. People in roles regarding data, customer retention, marketing, lawyers, healthcare professionals, and more might be more inclined to use overcoming challenges as an example of what motivates them.

motivation to climb a mountain

7. Seeking mentorship from others

New grads or current students might be motivated by mentorship when exploring their career paths. When in an interview, sharing that what motivates you is mentorship makes sense if applying to an internship or an entry-level role where you’ll need some hand holding. Sharing that you’re looking for mentorship sets up the expectation that the hiring manager will need to be more hands on to guide the new hire throughout the journey. People doing career changes might also be seeking mentorship as they embark on a new path. Ultimately, you want to set the expectation that you’re still new to the industry and are looking for hands-on support while you build your experience and skill set.

8. To master work-life balance

Work-life balance is one of the most sought after forms of equilibrium people desire. Being motivated by a balance between work and life shows recruiters that you’re probably not interested in a role where you need to work 80 hours a week. People applying for leadership roles probably don’t want to use this as an example as it’s often not a realistic one to share. However, if you’ve come from a high stress environment, you might choose to mention that you’re seeking more work-life balance in your career. You might share some hobbies you like pursuing on the weekend to showcase how you manage your life. While some people choose to have more work-life balance when they have a family, you typically don’t want to overshare details about your family life in an interview as it could lead to some bias from hiring managers.

9. Achieving big goals

Some people who work with targets or revenue goals tend to be motivated by seeing goals achieved. People who work in marketing or sales will often share that what motivates them is achieving targets or surpassing them. Alternatively, people who work at charities in fundraising roles, might also mention that achieving big goals for a cause helps motivate them. People who are ambitious and want to share what motivates them could use this as an example of something that motivates them. Go getters typically use this as the key indicator of what motivates them because they’re always looking to achieve big results wherever they go. If that’s true to who you are you can share this as an example and ask what the company goals actually are to show your excitement or thought process on how you’ll help them achieve that.

goal setting

10. Monetary compensation

If it’s money that motivates you, you could always mention it in an interview. However, use this sparingly as it may reflect poorly. If you work in commission-based roles, such as sales, this could actually be a good time to mention this as a motivating factor for you as it makes sense and reflects positively. Being motivated by money isn’t a bad thing, but hiring managers are often looking for something a bit deeper when asking, “what motivates you.” While it may be true that compensation motivates you, it’s best to come up with another motivating factor unless money is related to your work or role. For example, a sales representative can say she’s motivated by money, and enjoys achieving high sales targets to make it sound more professional when discussing money as her main motivation. However, a data entry coordinator mentioning monetary compensation as a motivating factor may be off-putting to a hiring manager. Try to align what motivates you to something within the company’s goals, values, or role responsibilities to answer this question in a positive way to a hiring manager while still being truthful.

11. Being part of a company that aligns with my values

Sometimes, you don’t get an opportunity to talk about how a company’s mission and values align to you in an interview, so you can always highlight that in what motivates you. Most companies post their company values on their careers page or on their about us page. If you’ve thoroughly researched a company, you can share which values speak to you. Sharing that you’re motivated to be part of a company that aligns with your values is a good opportunity to bridge the gap between who the company you’re interviewing at is and who you are to showcase that you could be an amazing culture fit for this role.

12. Opportunities for travel

Some roles require travel to different offices or locations. If you’re applying for a role that requires a ton of travel, you might mention you’re motivated by opportunities for travel. Jobs such as flight attendant, pilot, cruise staff, photographer, ESL teacher, bloggers, training specialists, sales representatives, and travel medical staff are some of the jobs where you might need to travel for work. Traveling for work isn’t glamorous for everyone. But the people who genuinely enjoy traveling will often be attracted to roles where travel opportunities are plentiful. If you love traveling, you could mention that in an interview where you’ll be required to travel for work to align yourself to the job responsibilities and requirements.

motivated by travel

13. Building my personal reputation

Being a world-class expert in your craft takes years. But for some building a reputation in an industry and having a legacy is what motivates them. If you’re driven to be the best in the business in your space, you can share your passion, enthusiasm, and work ethic by mentioning that this is what drives you. Keep in mind we’re not saying building your personal brand. After all, the goal isn’t to build your own thing and then leave the company. You want to look like you’re going to be loyal, work hard, and drive big results for them. Sharing that you want to be an established person in the space shows that you’re going to go all in for them to yield the results they want from you. Being committed to your personal growth also shows that you’ll continue to get better with time.

14. Getting access to feedback

A rare breed of people are genuinely excited to get access to feedback. Most people tend to be intimidated by it. Or worse, they deteriorate when hearing it. But the rare few who like getting feedback are typically those who work hard to chip away the bad and replace it with a ton of good. People who like getting feedback often use that feedback to improve themselves so they can evolve into the best version of themselves. Interview questions about feedback aren’t uncommon. If you’re genuinely motivated by self improvement, mentioning that feedback motivates you to become the best version of yourself could be a great way to answer any questions about motivation or feedback in general.

Practicing for interviews?

Huntr has a whole suite of products to help you prepare for interviews. You can use Huntr’s AI interview questions generator which tailor interview questions to the job you’re applying for. You can also use Huntr’s job tracker to track your progress, monitor your interview progress, and organize your job search. If you’re currently starting the interview process, 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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