Interview Advice

Mastering "What Motivates You?" - Expert Interview Techniques & Tools for Ultimate Job Success

By Will Etheridge - 07 April 2023

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If you're in the throes of job hunting, you'll be more than familiar with the wide range of interview questions that potential employers often ask.

One question that frequently stumps candidates is, "What motivates you?" This question may seem straightforward, but its simplicity belies its complexity.

Your response holds the potential to reveal a wealth of information about your professional drive, values, and alignment with the company's ethos.

It's crucial to prepare a compelling, authentic answer that reflects your professional aspirations and personal growth. So, how can you successfully navigate this? Let's dive in.


Understanding the 'What Motivates You?' Question 

The "What motivates you?" interview question is a favourite among hiring managers. This question is a brilliant opportunity for them to glean insight into what drives you at work and how well you'd mesh with the company culture.

Answering it requires a combination of self-awareness, professional acumen, and a dash of storytelling ability.

Firstly, why do employers ask this question? In essence, they want to understand the 'engine' that drives your professional pursuits.

Are you motivated by challenges, driven by collaboration, or propelled by the opportunity to make a difference? Your answer can help them ascertain if your motivation aligns with the job role and company ethos.

For instance, if you're applying for a competitive sales position, showcasing a drive for targets and achievement could work in your favour.

However, be wary of formulaic or cliched responses. Saying you're motivated by 'money' may be truthful, but it doesn't provide a comprehensive picture of your motivation.

Likewise, claiming you're driven by 'helping others' may seem noble but could be seen as generic unless you contextualise it with personal experiences or goals. The key is to offer a unique response that mirrors your professional reality and aspirations.


How to Answer: 'What Motives You?' in an Interview 

So, how can you craft an engaging and impactful response to the "What motivates you?" interview question? Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Reflect on your experiences: Think about your past roles and pinpoint the tasks or projects that energised and excited you. Did you thrive on problem-solving under pressure, or did you find fulfilment in mentoring team members?
  2. Identify your core motivators: Use these reflections to identify the underlying motivators. These could be anything from learning new skills, reaching targets, having autonomy, or contributing to a larger goal.
  3. Align with the job role: Once you've identified your motivators, consider how they align with the job you're applying for. Show the interviewer that your motivations will propel you to excel in your role.
  4. Tell a story: Stories are memorable and engaging. Share a brief story from your work experience where your motivators led to success. This will not only provide evidence for your motivation but also showcase your achievements.


'What Motivates You to do a Great Job at Work?' - Key Components

The closely related question, "What motivates you to do a great job at work?" invites you to delve deeper into your work ethic. It allows you to demonstrate your commitment to performing at your best and the specific factors that drive this commitment.

For instance, you might be someone who thrives on the intellectual challenge of your work. You could speak about how you enjoy complex projects that push your boundaries and foster growth in your skills and knowledge.

Or perhaps, the culture of teamwork and collaboration within a vibrant team motivates you. In that case, you might share instances where collaborative efforts led to project success, highlighting how this fuels your drive to excel.

Remember, your answer should be authentic and accurately reflect your motivations. A well-thought-out response can indicate that you're someone who is self-motivated, passionate, and likely to bring high levels of dedication to the role – qualities every employer values.


The Role of Self-awareness in Determining What Motivates You

Self-awareness is fundamental in recognising what truly motivates you at work. Without this understanding, you risk presenting a superficial or unconvincing response.

By knowing what drives you, you can direct your career towards roles and organisations that align with these intrinsic motivators.

Begin by reflecting on your work history. Consider the tasks you naturally gravitated towards or the projects that left you feeling fulfilled. Contemplate the type of work environment you thrive in, and the values that resonate with you.

Your motivations can evolve as you grow professionally, so it's essential to continually reassess your motivations.

Engaging in self-reflection exercises, personality tests, and feedback from colleagues can help you develop this understanding and ensure your career stays fulfilling and purposeful.


The Impact of Motivation on Job Performance

Understanding what motivates you is not just for the benefit of potential employers; it can also be a powerful tool for enhancing your job satisfaction and performance.

If you're motivated by learning and growth, you might excel in a role that offers ongoing professional development. If autonomy drives you, a position allowing freedom and flexibility can lead to outstanding results.

When your job aligns with your core motivations, work doesn't feel like a chore. You're likely to be more engaged, committed, and productive, leading to superior performance and job satisfaction. In essence, understanding your motivators can guide you towards a rewarding career path.


Cv Wallet: Your Partner in Effective Job Search and Career Progression

While self-awareness and articulating your motivators are crucial, having the right tools can make your job-seeking journey smoother. Cv Wallet, the world's first career management app, offers a suite of smart tools designed to give job seekers an edge in today's competitive market.

Cv Wallet can be a vital ally in preparing for interview questions like "What motivates you?" It offers an AI-powered Careers Hub, providing tailored advice on interview preparation, including how to tackle motivational questions effectively.

Moreover, Cv Wallet streamlines your job application process, pulling together jobs from hundreds of boards and thousands of career sites. It also offers a unique Blue Tick verification system, assuring potential employers of your verified skills and experience.

But Cv Wallet isn't just about helping you find a job. It's about managing your career, ensuring you're on the path that matches your motivations and career aspirations. The decentralised wallet securely stores your personal data, protecting your privacy, while employers can discover you based on your skills and invite you to apply for relevant jobs.

Best of all, Cv Wallet is free and always will be. It's about levelling the playing field and putting the latest technology in the hands of job seekers, helping you find the right fit for your skills, experience, and, of course, your motivations.



Mastering the "What motivates you?" interview question is an essential step towards acing job interviews and moving closer to your career goals. It involves thoughtful reflection on your past experiences, identifying your core motivators, and learning how to articulate them effectively to align with your desired job role.

Remember, motivation is more than just a response in an interview; it's a guiding light that can lead to a fulfilling career. And with the support of innovative tools like Cv Wallet, you're well-equipped to navigate your career path.

As you understand and articulate your motivations, use Cv Wallet to discover opportunities that align with your motivators, take the hassle out of job applications, and progress in your career.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive into self-discovery, master your motivational interview responses, and let Cv Wallet help you forge your career path with confidence.

Ready to take your career to the next level?

CV Wallet is the world's first career management app. Our suite of tools is built to make finding your dream job faster and easier.

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