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32 Motivational Questions Interview Examples + Sample Responses To Wow Interviewers


Leah Nguyen 06 October, 2023 8 min read

Why do we work? What drives us day in and day out to give our best efforts?

These are questions at the heart of any motivation-based interview.

Employers want to understand what truly inspires candidates beyond a paycheck so they can feel confident assigning important responsibilities.

In this post, we’ll break down the intent behind a motivational questions interview and provide tips on how to give polished, memorable responses while showcasing your passion.

Motivational questions interview examples
Motivational questions interview

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What is a Motivational Questions Interview?

A motivational questions interview is an interview where the employer asks questions specifically aimed at understanding the applicant's motivations.

The purpose of motivational question interviews is to evaluate work ethic and drive. Employers want to hire self-motivated individuals who will be engaged and productive.

Questions look to uncover intrinsic versus extrinsic motivators. They want to see the passion for work itself, not just a paycheck. They may involve discussing accomplishments, obstacles overcome, or what environments energise the applicant.

Motivational questions interview examples
Motivational questions interview

Responses should demonstrate alignment between the applicant's motivations and job/company culture. Strong ones will leave a memorable, positive impression of an engaged, self-directed employee.

The goal of a motivational interview is to hire someone who is innately fulfilled and driven to achieve rather than just put in time on the job.

Motivational Questions Interview Examples for Students

Motivational questions interview examples
Motivational questions interview

Seeking an internship or a part-time job before accomplishing your degree? Here are some interview questions about motivation that employers may ask when you start your career adventure:

  1. Why do you want an internship now rather than after graduation?

Example answer:

I'm seeking an internship now because I feel it will allow me to gain valuable real-world experience that will help me hit the ground running in my career. As a student, having the opportunity to apply the theories and concepts I'm learning in class to an actual work environment would be extremely beneficial. It will help me test out different areas of interest within this field to confirm what career path is the best fit for me long-term.

Additionally, completing an internship now gives me a competitive advantage when it comes time to look for full-time jobs after graduation. Employers are increasingly looking for candidates who already have internship experience under their belt. I want to set myself up to impress hiring managers fresh out of school with the valuable skills and professional network I'll gain from interning with your company.

  1. What interests you most about this field of study/industry?
  2. What outside organisations or activities have you participated in to gain experience?
  3. What goals do you have for your learning and career development during your time in college?
  4. What inspired you to pursue this area of study versus other options?
  5. How do you ensure you are constantly acquiring new skills and knowledge?
  6. What motivates you to seek out opportunities that will help you grow professionally?
  7. What challenges have you faced in your education/career journey so far? How did you overcome them?
  8. How do you perform your best work - what kind of environment helps you stay engaged and productive?
  9. What experience so far has given you the greatest sense of achievement? Why was that meaningful?

Motivational Questions Interview Examples for Freshers

Motivational questions interview examples
Motivational questions interview

Here are some examples of motivational questions that may be asked of fresh graduates (freshers) in an interview:

  1. What sparked your interest in this field/career path?

Example answer (for the software engineer position):

Ever since I was young, I've always been fascinated by how technology can be developed to solve real-world problems and improve lives. In high school, I was part of a coding club where we worked on some basic app ideas to help NGOs Seeing how the apps we created could make a positive impact sparked my passion for this field.

As I researched different college majors, software engineering just stood out to me as a way to channel that passion. I love the challenge of breaking down complex problems and designing logical solutions through code. In my classes so far, we've worked on projects relating to cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and cloud technologies - all areas that are so important for the future. Getting hands-on experience through internships and projects has only deepened my interest.

Ultimately, I'm motivated by the prospect of using technology to drive innovation and help modernise systems across various industries. The pace at which this field advances also keeps things exciting and ensures there will always be new skills to learn. A career in software engineering truly combines my interests in technology and problem-solving in a way that few other paths could.

  1. How do you stay motivated to continuously learn new skills?
  2. What motivates you to take on challenges that are outside your comfort zone?
  3. What career goals do you have for the next 1-2 years? 5 years from now?

Example answer:

In terms of technical skills, I hope to become proficient in the core programming languages and tools used here. I'd also like to develop my abilities in project management, such as tracking timelines and budgets. Overall, I want to establish myself as a valuable member of the team.

Looking 5 years ahead, I aspire to take on a senior developer position where I can independently lead the development of new features and solutions. I envision continuing to expand my skill set into related areas like data science or cybersecurity. I'd also like to explore becoming certified in an industry framework like AWS or Agile methodology.

In the longer term, I'm interested in advancing technical careers either as a development manager overseeing projects or potentially moving into an architecture role designing new systems. Overall, my goals involve consistently increasing my responsibilities through experience, training and self-improvement to become a core expert and leader within the organisation.

  1. What types of projects have you independently driven in your coursework/personal time?
  2. What are you most excited about contributing to the company?
  3. How do you perform your best work? What work environment motivates you?
  4. Tell me about a specific experience that has given you a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  5. How would your classmates describe your work ethic and motivation?
  6. What do you consider failure and how do you learn from challenges?
  7. What motivates you to go above and beyond basic requirements for tasks?
  8. How do you stay determined to complete goals when facing setbacks?

Motivational Questions Interview Examples for Managers

Motivational questions interview examples
Motivational questions interview

If you're tackling a senior/leadership role, here are the interview questions for motivation that might appear during the talk:

  1. What did you do to help your team stay motivated and help individuals grow in their roles?

Example answer:

I held one-on-one check-ins regularly to discuss development goals, get feedback on how they were feeling, and address any concerns. This helped me tailor encouragement and support specific to their needs.

I also implemented semi-annual reviews to recognise their achievements and discuss new learning opportunities. Team members would present their work to the rest of the group to boost morale. We celebrated both big wins and small milestones to keep energy high during difficult periods.

To help people expand their skill sets, I encouraged them to connect with senior colleagues for mentoring. I worked with management to provide training budgets and resources necessary to elevate their strengths.

I also created transparency by sharing project updates and celebrating successes company-wide. This helped team members see the value and impact of their contributions on a bigger scale.

  1. Describe a time when you went above and beyond to support your team.
  2. What strategies do you use to delegate work effectively based on people's strengths?
  3. What approaches do you take to solicit feedback and buy-in from your team on initiatives?
  4. How do you evaluate your performance and continually refine your leadership skills?
  5. What have you done to build a collaborative culture within your teams in the past?
  6. What motivates you to take ownership of both successes and failures?
  7. How do you recognise extraordinary work while also motivating continued improvement?
  8. What motivates you to network across departments to best support your team’s goals?
  9. Have you ever felt uninspired at work and how did you overcome it?

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you demonstrate motivation in an interview?

Keep responses specific, goal-oriented and intrinsically motivated to display enthusiasm.

How do you answer motivational fit interview questions?

You should relate your motivations to the organisation's mission/values whenever possible and provide specific examples from experience that demonstrate your determination, work ethic and ability to overcome challenges.

What are the 5 steps of motivational interviewing?

The five steps of motivational interviewing are often referred to as the OARS acronym: Open-ended questions, Affirmations, Reflective listening, Summarising, and Elicing change talks.