If you’re interviewing for a job, at some point, the interviewer is likely to ask, “What motivates you?” Essentially it alludes to asking, “Why should we hire you?” or “How will you fit our company culture?” The way they phrase it could be different, but the focus is the same.
The question is designed for the interviewer to find the candidate with the best fit. They are looking beyond simple experience and skills. If you haven’t prepared, this can be one of the most difficult interview questions to answer.
However, you can answer it convincingly and make a great impression with the right approach. This article will give you some tips on conquering this question.
Preparing to Answer “What Motivates You?”
Being able to convey, concisely, why you’re the best fit for the company rather than this particular role is vital. Your resume got you here based on your skill set. It’s up to you to convince them that you’re genuinely excited to work for this particular company because it’s a perfect match in some regard.
How do you do that?
Do Your Research
Know what the company stands for and what its goals are. Ideally, you’re applying for a company that inspires you. Hopefully, you’ve done your research on the company and applied to this job because there’s something about the company that stood out.
Does Their Business Model Excite You?
Explaining how your values and goals align with the company’s is a fantastic approach. Recruiters will see this as a signal that you’re interested in the company specifically rather than simply finding a paycheck.
If They’re a Startup Company
For example, consider the size of a company. If the company is smaller or if it’s a startup, touch on the excitement of being innovative. Then, you can say that you’re motivated by challenges and the potential to create something new.
Don’t say: “I’m excited it’s a small company, so there’s less drama.”
Do say: “The possibilities around a company at this point in its growth are inspiring. I’m very motivated by the challenges and rewards of helping to establish a company culture that will positively impact future team members for years. Previously, I helped build a new sales team, and I found it very rewarding to help create positive standards and dynamics.”
If They’re a Larger Company
If it’s a large, established company, you can talk about the possibilities of getting different perspectives and interacting with various departments. Or, touch on the opportunities for learning and growth within the company that excite you. Hiring is expensive, so it can be a huge win to let them know you have long-term plans.
Don’t say: “I’m looking forward to the possibilities of promotion that a company this size can offer.”
Do say: “I’m motivated by working with different perspectives. It seems like the marketing role here can interact with the public relations, sales, human resources, and several other departments. I enjoy getting feedback and different perspectives, as I feel like it always makes me a stronger marketer in the long run.”
Do Your Values Align?
Suppose you’re passionate about the same mission that the company has. You can mention how you can bring your passion for working and feel motivated to achieve the company’s vision.
Do they support equitable parental leave policies? Or, perhaps, they’re a commerce company focused on conservation and fair trade. When you can explain why you’re excited about different aspects that go beyond the job title, the recruiters will begin to see that it’s personal.
Don’t say: “I saw that you support the local youth charities, and I find it motivating to work with kids.”
Do say: “One of my passions has always been to work with children with learning disabilities. When I saw that you support several initiatives for equity in education locally and around the globe, I was excited to learn more about the company. The more I learned, the more I’ve been determined to work here.”
Focus on enthusiasm for the company and role. Now is not the time to talk about your low-paying job or previous disappointments.
Don’t say: “The reason I came to this interview is that you have the highest starting salary in the industry. My current role is still lower after five years.”
Do say: “I’m excited about your company’s people-first culture. I’m seeking a company that I can grow with long-term, and the employee reviews I read show that this is the type of culture you’ve built.”
Don’t say: “My previous job was very stressful with no organization, and I hated it.”
Do say: “I am most motivated by new challenges, and I thrive in an organized environment with targeted goals.”
Don’t Focus on Money
Include your skills, talents, experience, etc., but talk about how it all ties back into the company at large. Consider mentioning other benefits, like flexible work hours or hybrid remote schedules that the company is known for. Ensure they don’t think money is your only motivation, but listing it as a pro helps the recruiter see you’ve done your research.
Is your motivation to be challenged to do your best in a particular area? Stress how the role checks those boxes—maybe talk about some of the skills you’ve been developing lately or what lessons from your last project stand out as relevant experience.
This will show the interviewer that you still have ambition and passion even if you had a great experience somewhere else. They want someone who will be engaged in the role they offer, so giving them an indication down this path is a great answer.
Articulating Why You’re The Best Fit
Ultimately, you should be able to answer the question, “What motivates you?” with ease and confidence. The more research you do on a company, the easier it will be to articulate your values and goals that align with theirs.
This means that when hiring managers or recruiters ask what drives you at work, they’ll know exactly how you’ll fit the team and company mission. They’ll know what makes you “you,” and they’ll appreciate your enthusiasm.
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