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How Do You Stay Motivated?

Asking how you stay motivated is one interview question that helps hiring managers identify candidates who are in it for the long haul. Here we’ll explain what they’re looking for in your answer and what to say to strengthen your chances of landing the job. 

Why do interviewers ask about motivation?

Asking how you stay motivated helps an interviewer find out what you’re passionate about. Learning what’s important to you allows them to understand what drives you to succeed, which will help in determining whether you’ll be happy in the role.

A hiring manager also wants to know if you can find motivation for yourself. No one is motivated to come to work 100% of the time. It’s normal to have days where you’d rather stay at home on the couch, but the job must get done, and consistency is what breeds results. They want to see if you have the means to deal with the low-motivation days, which shows you’re not a slacker. 

What hiring managers look for in an answer about how you stay motivated

A hiring manager wants to hear you speak from the heart about why you chose this field and what keeps you coming back day after day. This is a chance to elaborate on why you want the job and what makes you the right fit.

They also want to hear what you do when you’re faced with a lack of motivation or when dealing with setbacks. Work isn’t sunshine and roses every day, and interviewers are looking for someone who’s resilient. They don’t want a candidate who’s going to quit because they get bored quickly or find the job more difficult than they thought, as this drives up hiring costs and contributes to a higher turnover rate. They want to hear that you have a reason for being there. 

How to answer the interview question, “How do you stay motivated?”

Name your motivators

Most of us have a general idea of why we show up to work every day, and collecting a paycheck is no doubt a big one. But there are other, deeper factors that motivated you to get into your line of work–maybe you like a challenge, enjoy working with people or feel good about making a difference. 

To help you identify your motivators, think of the days you’ve been most excited to come to work. What was the reason? Make a list of these and narrow it down to one or two that you can elaborate on in your interview. 

Address challenges

In addition to your passions, interviewers want to know about ongoing motivation. Show them that you’re not just a fair-weather employee by addressing how you deal with challenges, like “the job isn’t always easy, but X makes it worthwhile” or “when I’m having a hard day I…” Statements like these demonstrate that you’re prepared to stick it out even when the going gets tough. 

Tie in why you’re qualified

Your interests set you apart from other candidates. Use them to explain why you’re the best choice by tying them to the job requirements, for example, “I thrive on collaborating with others, so I’ll have no problem being the team player you’re looking for.”

Mistakes to avoid when answering

Focus on money

Money is a motivating factor (and a pretty darn good one) for most people. However, that’s exactly what makes it a weak interview answer. It does nothing to show how you’re different. Instead of citing financial reasons for coming to work, focus on the more intrinsic motivators that make you unique. 

Not tailoring your answer to the job

While talking about abstract motivations isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s a missed opportunity to position yourself ahead of other candidates. Show that your motivations align with those of the company by doing a little research ahead of time to learn about the company’s values–they’re often listed right in the job description. 

Sample answers to “How do you stay motivated”

Example #1

“I’m a very goal-oriented person, so I like to have a concrete objective to work toward. Things like KPIs are really helpful for me, and I always keep them in the back of my mind. Not only does having goals drive me to do better, but they help give me direction when I’m having a slower day.”

Example #2

“The people I help through my job are my biggest motivator. I love seeing their faces when I can help them solve a problem or hearing their feedback after a positive interaction. It’s what keeps me coming back and one of the main reasons my goal is to move into a role like this one where customer service is a primary function of the job.”

By keeping a positive tone, allowing your unique passions to show and connecting them to the responsibilities of the job, you’ll set yourself apart from other candidates and demonstrate that you’ll be a driven, reliable worker.