How To Answer “What Inspires You” Interview Question

This is a broad and open-ended question that can be difficult to answer. It is also difficult to determine the right method to reply. However, most people are motivated by a variety of variables, including salary, status, and the ability to make a difference.

When you’re applying for a new job, you’ll need your abilities and expertise to impress the recruiter, the hiring manager, and everyone else. You must also be eager to put those skills to work and rely on your experiences so that your future company can profit from them.

How do you respond to the topic of what inspires you?

During a job interview, the most common question asked by interviewers is, “What inspires you at work?” This question is intended to assist the prospective employer better understand you as a person by providing insight into what you value and enjoy doing, how you would fit into a team-based work environment, and what bothers you.

However, answering this question honestly allows the interviewer to connect with you on a deeper level by learning more about what you care about and why you want to work in a specific role or with the organization.

You can choose whether you prefer working in a collaborative environment or a quiet and solo one by clicking on your professional styles. However, certain positions will require deadline-based work, so consider whether this inspires you or if you suffer under pressure.

Discuss specific examples from your previous professional experiences when you set or received deadlines and felt inspired by meeting the timeframe.

When thinking how to respond to the topic of what motivates you at work, you might also discuss the abilities you have earned via professional and personal accomplishments, and how these will relate to the job for which you have applied.

When a prospective employer asks this question, he or she is not interested in your long-term career aspirations, so avoid talking about where you want to go next and instead focus on the inspiration you will find while working in the job at hand.

Money is another item you should avoid using as a motivator, even if it is one of the main reasons you go to work in the morning. Most employers will be turned off if you make compensation your primary focus, so instead, talk about your professional fulfillment and past achievements instead of emphasizing your need to earn a living.

Here are some examples of responses to the question “what inspires you.”

  • I am motivated by deadlines and perform best when I have a clear plan in place. Meeting a deadline excites me and gives me the sense that I have accomplished something, which motivates me to continue to exceed expectations.
  • My biggest source of inspiration is offering excellent service to every customer with whom I come into contact. I search for opportunities to improve my customer service skills so that everyone with whom I connect has a great experience.
  • I am also inspired by leading a team and assisting each member in growing. In past positions, I was able to expand management plans and set targets that we could all work toward together.

When you are interviewed and feel prepared with specific examples to use, you will be able to maintain a positive and optimistic tone about the things that help inspire you to do well at work, making it easier to maintain a calm attitude when answering the “what inspires you” questions they present to you.

Athina Iliadis is a Human Resources Professional with over 25 years’ experience in corporate environments working for companies such as Pearson, LexisNexis, Hershey, and Reckitt. In her current role as a consultant working with clients around the world, she coaches managers and employees on HR issues, supports leaders in their business, produces content about careers, interviews, and job opportunities. She is fluent in English, French and Greek, and she holds a BBA with a major in HR from Université du Québec à Montréal. Find her on LinkedIn and at

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