Question forms part of
Other interview questions that are similar
What do you find motivating?
Are there any aspects of the job you find more appealing than others?
If you could pick one thing to do for the rest of your life what would it be?
What are you unenthusiastic about that others are not?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
Energises is the word that the Civil Service Interview guide likes to use for this question. In other sectors though it is most often worded as “What motivates you?” and it is a strength based question that I really hated when I was a fresh-faced youngster applying for my first jobs.
It’s a nuisance question because it gives you no indication as to what the interviewer actually wants. What energises me?…I suppose that pint can of Monster I just downed is giving off some energy I suppose.
So what does the interviewer want?
They are looking to see what makes you tick, how do you gather up the energy to come into work and do a good job day after day, what part of the role do you find actually interests you.
And finally they want to see if what energises (or motivates) you is in line with their organisation and how they work.
The best approach to answering this question
So how do you answer this question when you don’t even know what they want?
Firstly you should ensure that you are well prepared for the interview. Research the company itself on Glassdoor and LinkedIn, you are looking to see if anyone has left a review on the interview process and any feedback they were given. If you are lucky you will get some good information about what it is they are looking for.
Make sure you have read the job description over and over looking for any clues as to what they are looking for – the first paragraph is usually were they keep all their buzzwords; “Results-driven”, “Inquisitive nature”, “People person”.
Use these buzzwords when tailoring your answer.
So if they say they are looking for someone who is ‘passionate about improvement’ then in your answer talk about how self-improvement and process improvement is a passion of yours and that is what energises you through the day – the continued pursuit of development.
How NOT to answer this question
Don’t talk about personal activities – It’s easy to say that your family motivates you (or something similar), and while it is almost certainly true it’s not really an appropriate answer here. The interviewer is going to assume that you already love your family, what they want to know is what motivates you in the workplace.
(Side note – I did hear a fantastic answer once were a candidate said their kids were their biggest motivator, the role was with Forestry England and the candidate talked about how much the Forestry service played a role in her childhood and how ensuring that her kids could have the same experiences as her is what would motivate her in helping to preserve and enhance the woodlands across the UK – So the above isn’t a hard rule, but if you are going to talk about personal motivators make sure you can tie them into the job somehow)
Don’t talk about money – Interviews are a weird construct that we humans have devised. Everyone knows that the primary reason anyone is applying for a job is to make money, but for some reason it is uncouth to say as much. But this is an interview and you want this job so you have to play the game. Don’t talk abut how your primary motivator is to get paid.
Don’t talk about what motivated you to apply for the role – It’s easy to confuse what energises/motivates you in work with what motivated you to apply for this job, particularly as that is also a very popular interview question, but this question is not about that.
What energises you? – Example answers
Motivators Example Answer 1
“I am motivated by the people I work with. I enjoy when we succeed together and I am spurred on during difficult times knowing that I have a solid team around me. For example in my most recent role I was on a great team that really had each other’s backs. When one of our colleagues dropped the ball on a piece of work we all rallied together and worked overtime so that there was no gap in output from the team. This type of team support is what energised me to perform in that role.”
Motivators Example Answer 2
“Success is what energises me. This is why I prefer project type roles. The ability to say that a project has been successfully deployed is what drives me during the more mundane run of the mill day-to-day activities. Recently I was able to close the book on a 30-month IT infrastructure deployment. This was a project that had been completely re-scoped 3 times just during the time I was attached to the project. But knowing that the project would eventually be deployed is what drove me throughout.”
Motivators Example Answer 3
“I am motivated by helping people and by solving problems, this is why Level 2 support roles are where I flourish the most. I like being able to speak with customers and help solve their tricky problems. For example, a few weeks back a bug was discovered that was preventing a customer from making online payments through our new app. After liaising with the customer and with the relevant developers I managed to isolate that the issue was due to the customer’s VPN location. Once this was resolved the customer was able to access the app as normal. I was particularly driven by this encounter because the issue itself was particularly complex in that it had never been seen before but also the issue was very important to the customer as they were attempting to make payments abroad for hospital treatments so it was very rewarding to be able to help them with that.”
Other Interview Question and Answers
79 Civil Service Interview Questions (And Example Answers)
35 Project Coordinator Interview Questions (And Example Answers)
94 Project Manager Interview Questions (And Sample Answers)
29 Teacher Interview Questions (And Example Answers)
Quality Assurance Analyst Interview Questions (And Sample Answers)
32 Test Manager Interview Questions (And Sample Answers)
34 Change Manager Interview Questions (And Sample Answers)