Classic Interview Questions and Answers

What motivates you?

Alternative and related questions:

What do you need to retain your motivation?

The meaning behind the question:

What the interviewer is really asking is, “What would we have to do to motivate you?” and, “Would you be sufficiently motivated to undertake this job effectively?” They’re unlikely to ask this directly though. By asking you the more open-ended, “What motivates you?” they’re likely to extract a lot more useful information out of you – if you are careless enough to let them have it! Interviewers want to hire highly motivated people – not people who are just going to go through the motions until it’s time to go home.

Your answer:

There are lots of different things which could motivate you. You’ve got to be careful to pick factors:

  • Which will reflect positively on you as an individual
  • Which are not inconsistent with the job for which you are applying
  • Which are equally of benefit to your prospective employer
  • Which will not impose any kind of a burden on the employer

I’m not going to hide the fact that money is of course a major motivator. It’s the primary reason most people go to work each day! However, unless you are in sales or some other highly money-driven and largely commission-based role then you should steer clear of mentioning money as a motivating factor. It’s too selfish an answer. It’s a factor which is purely in your own interests and not your prospective employer’s.

I would recommend that, depending on the nature of your role, you cite factors such as challenges, results and recognition – and elaborate on these so as to demonstrate their value to your employer.

Example:

I’m very results-driven. Doing a good job and achieving the desired end result is my primary motivation. While I enjoy working on a project on my own, I’m particularly motivated by the buzz of working in a team. It’s very rewarding working closely with others who share the same common goal. I like to take on a challenge; I like to rise to that challenge as part of a concerted team effort – and I naturally appreciate it when my boss compliments me for a job well done.

The Interview Question & Answer Book

The Interview Question and Answer Book

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More classic interview questions and answers

 

How would you describe yourself? / How would your boss/colleagues/team/family/friends describe you?

In what ways are you a team player?

Do you work well on your own initiative?

What techniques do you use to get things done?

What motivates you?

Are you proactive?

Are you creative?

Are you a risk-taker?

How do you handle pressure and stress?

Can you tell me about a time when you have failed to achieve a goal?

What's the worst mistake you've made at work and how did you deal with it?

How would you handle the following situation?

Can you tell me about a major project you have successfully completed?

Can you tell me about a major problem at work that you've had to deal with?

We have a problem with x. How would you resolve that?

What do you do when you disagree with your line manager?

How would you describe yourself as a manager?

Can you give me an example of when you have successfully coached a member of your team?

What is your customer service philosophy?

How did you get your last job?

What does your current job involve on a day-to-day basis?

What contribution do you make to the department in which you work?

What changes have you made to your current job role since you started?

What have you learned in your last job?

Can you tell me about your last appraisal?

How would you describe your current boss?

Why did you leave that job?

Which of your jobs was the best?

Why is there a gap in your resume/CV?

What do you know about us as an organisation?

What do you know about our products/services?

What do you think are our organisation's greatest strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?

What do you know about the vacancy for which you are applying?

How do your skills and experience match the job description/person specification?

What appeals to you most about this vacancy?

Why have you chosen this line of work?

Are there any other organisations to which you are applying?

How does this job compare to others for which you are applying?

Can you describe your ideal employer to me?

What sort of person would you most like to work for?

In what ways is your degree relevant to the work you are now doing?

What have you learned and how have you developed over the last year/five years?

What sports are you/have you been involved in?

Do you know what the current headline news is?

How quickly can you adapt to a new work environment?

Would it be a problem if we asked you to work overtime/evenings/weekends?

What is your current salary package?

What salary package are you expecting for this role?

When would you be available to start?

Do you mind if we contact your current employer for a reference?

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