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It’s impossible to predict every question you’ll be asked in a graduate job interview; but there are some common interview questions which will almost certainly feature.
Graduate job interview questions range from the straightforward, such as ‘Describe yourself in 3 words’, to the more open-ended, like ‘Tell me about yourself’ and ‘Why should we hire you?’ Check out our complete guide to Interview Questions.
Despite being one of the most common interview questions, ‘What motivates you at work?’ will often catch graduates off-guard; so it’s important to make sure you’re fully prepared to answer it.
To decide on the best way to answer this open-ended interview question, let’s look first of all at why employers might choose to ask it.
Scroll straight to the bottom of the page to see a quick, summary video of how to answer!
A potential employer will be looking to learn more about your personality, and gain insight into what you value most. As interview questions go, this one will help employers to understand what really drives you, and what kind of employee you would be if they were to hire you.
By asking you this question, the employer will be able to ascertain whether your sources of motivation and overall goals align with their own, the company’s, and the direction in which they see the role going. This will help them decide whether you would be a good team and culture fit.
Prompting you to explain what motivates you at work is also a great way for a potential employer to gauge how well you know yourself, as well as your strengths and weaknesses. The answer you choose will reveal a lot about how you view yourself and your work; so it’s important to prepare an answer beforehand which relates to the role you are applying for.
Just like many other common interview questions, practicing your answer is key. When preparing your answer, think about what really does motivate you, and frame it in a way that demonstrates your interest in and commitment to this particular role. Examples might be:
No employer wants to hear that you are only motivated by money, even if it is a key motivating factor. Instead of mentioning the salary, use this question to show how much you value other aspects of a job, and how committed you will be to the role. Find out other company perks you should consider.
This is your opportunity to talk about what the factors that will motivate you in this role, not where you see your career going in the future or your long-term motivations. It is easy to go off on a tangent when answering interview questions, here's some advice on how not to ramble in an interview.
A big no-no for any potential employer, saying you don’t know what motivates you in a job implies that you either have no motivation, or you didn’t take the time to prepare your answer.