6 Motivation Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 31 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A person's motivations can determine their behaviours, influence decisions and ultimately affect their performance at work. Employers and interviewers sometimes want to better understand an employee or job candidate's internal motivations to learn who they're as a person and what values they hold. Understanding how to answer a motivational interview question and why employers ask them may help you create better, more concise answers. In this article, we explain what motivation interview questions are, share the OARS method for answering them and provide six sample questions with answers for reference.

What are motivation interview questions?

Motivation interview questions are open-ended questions that explore a candidate or employee's internal motivations. Employers may want to know why a candidate wants a position, what drives employees to succeed or what current employees want to change about their career. Interviewers often use a specific method to help individuals reach their own conclusions and learn more about themselves.

Related: Common Interview Questions and Answers

The OARS interview method

OARS stands for open-ended questions, affirming, reflective listening and summarising and is a common method for motivational interviewers. This method allows the interviewer to ask more specific questions about how the individual feels and acts. Open-ended questions also allow them to better explain themselves and their actions. An interviewer might use the OARS method to explore what a subject likes and dislikes about their work and how they might change their environment to be more motivated. Here are some OAR question examples:

  • How can I help you with...?

  • What can I do to understand...?

  • Can you help me understand this?

  • What do you want from your work?

  • How might you like things to be different?

Related: How to Answer Open-Ended Interview Questions (With Samples)

6 interview questions on motivation with sample answers

Here are six examples of motivational interview questions with sample answers for reference:

1. Can you tell me how you stay motivated when doing repetitive tasks?

Employers may ask this question to explore an employee or candidate's motivation for maintaining quality during repetitive tasks. This helps them understand how you manage the potential stress and monotony of doing the same thing each day, and can also reveal whether you think your work environment is conducive to productivity. When you answer this question, consider any repetitive tasks you do each day and think about how you organise your time and resources to maintain motivation.

Example: 'I stay motivated by thinking about the eventual rewards completing my repetitive tasks brings. For example, if I continue to submit my reports on time, I can stay ahead of my work. I also think about how important those tasks are to the general success of the team and my part in that team. I don't want to disappoint my team members and believe firmly in professional accountability.'

Related: 8 Buzzwords for Interview Questions (Plus Interview Tips)

2. What's your main motivation for seeking this position?

Whether you're a candidate or current employee, your employer may want to know what your motivation is or was for seeking the position. This question can help them better understand what drives you to succeed in your job and why you sought the position in the first place. When you're answering this question, think about what attracted you to the company and the position. Consider the work culture, benefits and pay and the opportunities for professional development. Answer honestly and include anything you currently love or hope to enjoy about the company if you're a candidate.

Example: 'My main motivation for seeking this position was to work for an innovative company with good pay and benefits and a positive, challenging work environment. I didn't feel like my last position challenged me enough that I could continue to grow, so I sought employment with a company that was already growing and focused on employee development. I like that I can be honest with my colleagues and find support when I need it. I also appreciate that my responsibilities are challenging enough to keep me interested.'

3. What motivates you to do better at work?

An employer may ask this interview question to explore your motivation for improvement so they can understand how and when you decide you need improvement. You can answer by explaining that you value personal responsibility and believe that your contributions to the company are important. Consider what factors contribute to a sudden desire to change, including environmental factors, financial motivations or team accountability. You can also explain why you think the quality of your work is important to your professional reputation and success with the company.

Example: 'As a team lead with the company, I'm motivated to improve when my team holds me accountable for my shortcomings. I appreciate the professional, measured feedback they provide and value the relationship I have with each of them that permits such open, honest communication. I also value my own professional reputation. When I feel like my work falls below a certain quality threshold, I want to improve to both set an example for the team and uphold my own reputation with the company.'

Related: Interview Questions About Change Management (With Examples)

4. How do you define your professional success?

Your professional success can be important to an employer, because they may hope your idea of success aligns with the company. Employers may ask this question to learn more about how you define professional successes and what you might do to reach your professional goals. When answering this question, consider your primary career goals and think about how they impact your definition of success. You can align your answer with your job or prospective position with the company to help provide context and reinforce your commitment to the role.

Example: 'I define my professional success by my three primary career goals. They are to become a senior manager, learn how to manage a company and earn a six-figure income. I chose this role because I believe it aligns with all three of my goals, and the opportunity for advancement and professional development this company offers is unique and valuable. I also want to consider how my colleagues view me as a leader as they help me excel in my role.'

5. What factors in your work environment contribute to your success?

Employers may ask this question to learn about any factors that specifically contribute to productivity and success. This can allow the employer to focus resources on specific challenges in the work environment or tools and resources that can help improve it. When you're answering this question, think about anything in your work environment you specifically appreciate or any tools and resources you have access to that improve your job. This can be anything from the company culture to the aesthetics of your work area to the tools you have available.

Example: 'I think the positive, supportive company culture combined with the space and abundance of resources contributes to my success at work. I know that if I ever need anything, I can ask someone and they usually acquire it or provide the support I'm looking for. This definitely improves my morale and makes me feel heard and valued. That level of respect and courtesy makes me want to do my best work to show my colleagues, leaders and the company that I'm appreciative and dedicated to the company's mission.'

Related: How to Answer Situational Interview Questions

6. How can I help you succeed in your role?

When a staff member seems unmotivated or challenged, an employer might ask how they can help. This helps encourage the individual to provide an answer that includes direct action an employer can take. This level of detail can help the employer be more decisive and better understand how their staff see them as a leader. When you answer this question, consider what your manager does or doesn't do to help you succeed and describe how they can improve.

Example: 'I think you can help me by providing more direct support for me and my team. Sometimes, we feel there isn't enough direct involvement from the leaders of the company, which leads to indecision and sometimes delays. If you can provide more direct intervention and decisiveness, I think my team and I can be more efficient and get through projects more quickly. I'd also appreciate more professional feedback on how I'm doing in my role and how I can improve to better serve the company.'

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