“What motivates you?” is possibly the toughest question to answer at the interview. This commonly asked HR interview question is to check two things about the candidate 1) Is he/she self-aware? 2)How driven is he/she is to work?

Here’s a list of sample answers curated for different situations which shall aid you to answer the question ‘what motivates you?’ in the best way possible!

Sample Answer #1

My role model is my own father. He is a highly motivated individual and a winner in life. This is true not only in his professional life but also on the personal front. Recently, at the age of 55, he enrolled himself into musical keyboard training. I have always believed that honing a skill at a later age is impossible, but my father proved me wrong. He is a dedicated learner a and committed musician. He practices for 2 hours every day and enjoys himself to the fullest. When one has such an example at home, motivation is constantly around. I strive to have the same zeal for work as him and this keeps me going!

Sample Answer #2

I want to challenge myself constantly. It is necessary to keep refining one’s skills and never stop learning. When I am posed with a tough situation, I start by making a list of the possible positive outcomes from that situation. For example, I had to prepare a market report for a client on their current strategy. The timelines were tough and I had to present it the next day. I realised that finishing this project within the remaining work hours was next to impossible.  Adding to the pressure, I had to work on this project by myself. I began with making a list of the positive outcomes from working on this project. There were so many! I did not mind staying back late to finish my work.  Next morning, I came in early and asked my supervisor to look through the presentation. With the feedback incorporated, I was ready to present it to the client at the scheduled time.  I was really tired but the excitement of achieving my positive outcomes was more than enough to keep me charged up.

Sample Answer #3

My strengths are that I am an organized and goal-oriented individual. I take pleasure in setting daily, weekly, monthly and long-term goals. When I achieve these goals, I treat myself.  I use an old-school planner to make a note of my goals, my progress, and my achievements. I think timely reminders of one’s journey is the highest kind of motivation.  On those days when I need motivation, I have my trusted planner to remind me that I have achieved successes through hard work and can choose to stay on the path of progress.

Sample Answer #4

Regret is a strong emotion that encourages me to never leave any stone unturned. I do not want to ever imagine that my life could have been better if I had done something differently. So, I give a 100% to every task I undertake. At my previous organization, I was asked to set up a new branch which would require me to shuttle between two cities frequently. I knew that the situation would be stressful, both personally and professionally. However, I accepted the offer and took it as a challenge. I was fearful of losing out on the multitude of learning opportunities, for instance, setting up a new space and mentoring a team. The experience was amazing and has encouraged me to stay motivated every day to push the limits.

Sample Answer #5

Only one word comes to my mind when the question ‘what motivates you’ is raised. The word is appreciation. Appreciation to me is like jaggery is to an ant. I will work very hard to get to it and the sweetness of achievement is the fuel I need for my next adventure. However,  I have also realised that appreciation is a form of external validation and I may not receive it as often as I can deliver great work. Initially this was very tough for me to handle, but I have learned the simple act of recognizing my own successes and appreciating myself. I am an avid reader, hence appreciating myself often translates to buying a new book for myself. I have a growing library and growing sense of self-appreciation. It is definitely an efficient and educational self-incentive system!

Sample Answer #6

I am most driven when I get the opportunity to mentor others. In my initial years, I often needed support and mentoring. Hence, it motivates me to work with individuals and guide them through the learning curves. I want to be a manager who is a keen observer, efficient delegator and mentor. I work hard every day by myself and within teams to develop into such a manager. I have had the opportunity to train the staff at my current organization and the experience was thrilling! I want to grow further in this regard and that is the motivation that is driving me.

Sample Answer #7

It is the fear of being average that keeps me ticking. I have always been a very competitive person and seek to stand out among my peers. I am proactive in seeking opportunities to learn new skills and take on challenges. I am sure this will help me to differentiate myself in the long run.  I frankly believe that I have developed as a smart worker because of this attitude and my manager has applauded my time management skills.

Sample Answer #8

I am motivated by various things and it is an evolutionary process. At the moment, my motivation has been leading my team to higher successes. I was promoted to a managerial position 6 months ago. Before that promotion, my motivation was to be an excellent team player. However, in the past 6 months, I have thoroughly enjoyed the responsibilities of leading a team. All projects have been successfully completed and the atmosphere has been electrifying. The thrill of championing a team is my energizer currently and I want to maximize my opportunities to achieve that.

Sample Answer #9

I am a self-motivated person and believe that ‘self-motivation’ is an extremely important skill. Every morning, I wake up and say a simple affirmation aloud, “I am a winner, and I am going to continue winning today.” It helps to start the day on a positive note. I remember a stressful situation wherein I was pushed to confront my fears. It was a long time ago but it has cemented the habit for me. It was the day of the history examination during my board examinations. I was under confident and cried to my mother because I was anxious about failing. I did not want to appear for the examination! She ignored my tantrums, hugged me and told me that I had no choice but to go. Turning up, she said, was more important than anything else in the world. Honestly, the examination went well and I passed with flying colours. I had sincerely studied the entire year, yet would have allowed anxiety to have the better of me that day. I truly believe that if I work with sincerity I can overcome all difficulties. Being fearless and staying positive in every situation motivates me.

Sample Answer #10

My greatest motivator is recognition from my peers. I feel a deep sense of accomplishment when people around me recognize my efforts and approach me for tips and advice. At my current organization, we have an open working space. We often have to cold call potential clients, sometimes 15-20 calls have to be made in a single day! A couple of months ago, a colleague told me that she found my introductory phone calls really engaging. She also requested me to help with her calls. I felt an incredible sense of pride about myself and my work. I was ecstatic and it encouraged to sharpen my skills further.

‘What motivates you?’ is a very important question for the interviewer since organizations would like to cut the costs of managing an unmotivated workforce. A highly motivated workforce ensures healthy and prosperous work environments and overall, a stellar growth for the organizations.

Although money might top everyone’s list of motivations, do not share this detail with your interviewer. It creates the sense that if another firm paid you higher, you would leave without looking back. Rather focus on mutually positive motives such as challenges, growth, and accomplishments. Be the candidate that drills the point home that what motivates you are the professional successes that lie ahead and that you’re not afraid to keep working hard to achieve them.

All the best! 🙂

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