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How To Excel At Your Next Interview And Answer “What Motivates You?”

How To Excel At Your Next Interview And Answer “What Motivates You?”

You’ve made it. You passed the first screening process and have been invited to the job interview. This is a position you would love to have and feel that your hard work will finally pay off.

After a short moment of euphoria, self-doubt kicks in. Am I really the right person for the job? What if they ask me a technical question and I don’t have the answer? Will I still have time for my friends if I accept this job, and what if it’s worse than my current position?

All of these are valid questions, but none of them will bring you further in your preparation for the job interview. Let’s refocus: what is a job interview really? It’s an opportunity for you to give yourself a reality check and see if the position is a good fit and to showcase what you might not be able to express in your CV or motivation letter.

First things first

Instead of procrastinating, use your time more efficiently and prepare for your encounter with your future manager, HR director and other participants of the interview panel. If it has been a while since you applied for the position, you should have another look at the job ad, your CV and cover letter, and the company where you are interviewing in general.

If you’ve never heard of the STAR method before, you should definitely have a look at this very common job interview method as well.

Get into the head of the interviewers

Preparation also starts with putting yourself in the shoes of the interviewer. What kind of questions might they ask? What common themes could appear in their questions and how can I best prepare for it?

An interview isn’t rocket science and you’ll do great. Remember what questions came up in your last interview? Which ones were a bit trickier, and which ones were very easy to answer?

After all, the interviewers usually tackle the following areas:

  • Know-how/Experience: skills, competencies, have done/can do
  • Knowledge: what you know
  • Personality traits & professional attitude: who you are
  • Motivation: interests & what is of value to you

You’ll find plenty of the answers already in your CV and cover letter, but what if they ask the question “What motivates you?”, and they really want to know what motivates you in life and in general and not the usual “This is a great opportunity for growth”?

Take a deep dive into your motivation

Motivation is your “desire or willingness to do something.” Sometimes motivation comes from within (so-called intrinsic motivation) and sometimes it comes from outside (extrinsic motivation). When we translate this concept into work, you could say that some people do certain tasks because they simply enjoy doing them, while others need external rewards to follow through on a task.

As motivation is such a subjective feeling, it helps to think of tasks and activities you enjoy doing and ask yourself why you are actually doing them. Is it because you simply enjoy doing them, or is it because a certain reward is waiting for you afterwards?

Get particularly curious about intrinsic ones and start putting into words what makes you enjoy them so much. Is it your curiosity, or maybe you like the challenge? These are both very valid answers when it comes to the “What motivates you?” part of the interview.

You can also take the reflection further and think about who you are with when you are doing these tasks and what is the outcome? Are you working alone or with a team member, is your manager complimenting you on the outcome of the task and shows you appreciation? There are so many options and possibilities and you get to find out yours and share them during the encounter with your future colleagues and managers.

There is no wrong answer

If you have difficulties thinking about your motivation in a work context, think of other areas in your life where you struggle sometimes with motivating yourself. Is it maybe starting that exercise routine? Or going to bed earlier? What helps you in the end to do it and overcome that resistance? Is it the feeling of getting fitter or thinking of all the energy you will have if you finally get more sleep? Then you can explain that it motivates you to have a vision and a goal to work towards. Imagining how you feel when you reach it is enough motivation for you to keep going.

See Also

Remember that it’s about you and your motivation. There is no wrong answer to the question and people love to listen to stories. Tell them your motivation story and how you transformed your low motivation into high.




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