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How to answer motivational questions

Book open Reading time: 3 mins

Motivational questions are a common way for employers to assess a candidate’s motivation for applying to a role. However, there's an awful lot more to them than it first seems. To help you successfully negotiate them, we've pulled together our top tips for tackling them head on.

How to answer motivational questions

What are motivational questions?

Motivational questions come in a range of forms. At their most simple, they might just ask “What motivates you?”, “What are you passionate about?”, “What challenges are you looking for?” or even “Where you do you see yourself in five years?”.

In essence though, they are all basically asking: “Why do you want to work with us?”

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Why do employers ask them?

Just as competency questions test your ability to do the job, these are designed to find out how much you actually know about the role and what will push you to succeed in it once you get there.

It will show if you have researched the position and the company properly, while also indicating how you will perform. If you’re motivated by working in a team on creative projects, but the job in question requires working independently and processing lots of data, that isn’t a good sign.

Watch: Expert advice on standing out in an interview.

How to answer them

At first motivational questions can appear very vague, but you can break down your answer and impress by following these guidelines.

1. Make it personal

Make sure your answer is about you. Just like answering competency questions, your answers are stronger when they are backed up with evidence.

Instead of saying “I like working in a team”, try “I really enjoyed my group project and was really motivated by the exchange of ideas and creativity, using input from everyone to find the best solution”.

2. Link it to the employer

These questions are definitely not a cut-and-paste job. You need to show your knowledge of the role and also the company your applying to. What motivates you for one position might not suit for the next.

Take the opportunity to demonstrate you’re fully aware of what the job involves and why you are a good fit for the company. For example, if you've read about a recent deal of theirs, mention how that relates to the career path you want to pursue.

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3. Align your motivation with the company

The employer will want to know where they fit in with your career progression and goals. If they ask what you are passionate about, explain how your passion could take you far in the company and lines up with their aims.

The key to answering motivational questions is to use personal details and properly-researched facts to give an informed, compelling answer that illustrates how you would fit in as part of their team.

Learn more about common interview questions with Bright Network Academy

Most interviews will include motivational questions, so it's important to be prepared. Learn how to ace an interview with Bright Network Academy and Willis Towers Watson's graduates and recruitment team.