How to Answer: What gets you up in the morning?

A strong cup of coffee, an alarm clock – after delaying it five times – or an urgent need to urinate. Unless it’s a crying child, a complaining partner, or a sun that shines in your eyes, these are probably what wakes you up in the morning. As you might expect, however, hiring managers have something else in mind when they ask this question during a job interview.

They wonder what motivates you to get up, wash, eat breakfast (or skip it) and rush to work so that you can spend another eight to ten hours in a cold office, working on seemingly unimportant tasks, conversing with people who do not really interest you, and daydreaming about the weekend.

According to studies conducted on the topic, the majority of people do not know why they work or get up in the morning. They do so because virtually everyone else does the same. And they must earn money in order to live and pay their bills. Or to endure. As you can imagine, neither the first nor the second would be a suitable response to this question, although in many instances they would be truthful. What then should you say? How do you make a favorable impression on hiring managers?

Let’s examine seven examples of responses to this intriguing question. Some of the answers on my list are conventional, as they pertain to job applicants seeking a meaningful purpose in their work, while others are atypical, either relying on brutal honesty or attempting to provide a philosophical explanation. Feel free to use any of these in your interview, or modify them based on your job application, attitude, and the circumstances.

Interview questions answered What gets you up in the morning?

6 examples of responses to the question, “What gets you up in the morning?” interview question

Example Answer 1

I wake up every morning with the motivation to work hard and effect change in the advertising industry. Occasionally, I find it difficult to fall asleep at night due to my excitement over the possibilities in this field and my plans for the following day. And if I get a job with your company, one of the leading players in the industry and the most innovative among the big names, I won’t have any trouble getting up in the morning or finding meaning in my workdays.

Example Answer 2

Human need or desire to create, to transform my time and energy into something of value, is what motivates me to rise each morning. Staying in bed and doing nothing is only beneficial for those who want to be unhappy and who do not realize that true happiness consists of helping others and contributing to something greater than oneself. I have never had trouble getting up and going to work, and based on my outlook on life, I see no reason why I will in the future.

Example Answer 3

Truthfully, my children wake me up in the morning. I want them to have a good life and the opportunity to attend college, which I did not have. When waking up and preparing for another shift, which is difficult in my current position, I reflect on them, and they give me the strength to persevere and work diligently each day.

Example Answer 4

Nothing, because my current job involves night shifts. Then I sleep the entire morning and wake up in the late afternoon. This is extremely detrimental to my health and social life, as I am awake when others are asleep and asleep when others are awake. I really want to change my routines, which is why I’m applying for a position at your warehouse. I am aware that you only work morning and afternoon shifts at this location, which is the model I seek.

Example Answer 5

Getting out of bed in the morning is prompted by a desire to effect change in my neighborhood. I’ve been a social worker for more than a decade. I have witnessed a great deal of suffering, and you can rest assured that I do not live in a self-centered bubble like so many people do today. Honestly, there is a great deal of suffering in this city and surrounding area, and I see the purpose of my days as trying to make a difference in the lives of those who were less fortunate than I.

Example Answer 6

A sense of responsibility for my team motivates me to get out of bed each morning. And also the fact that I enjoy my job very much, or at least I did prior to the recent management change. To feel a sense of belonging, I enjoy having good relationships with my coworkers and attempting to accomplish something as a team. This sense of belonging and responsibility motivates me to get up in the morning, and I typically look forward to seeing my coworkers. Due to the recent change in management at my company, I am compelled to seek employment elsewhere. But such is life, and I am certain that I will look forward to my new coworkers as well.

Without objectives, motivation is difficult to find.

People are lazy in general. If you do not know why you get out of bed in the morning, you will not do so. Or perhaps you will leave to urinate and eat, returning to your room to hide under your blanket. It does not matter much which goals you mention in your response, but you must mention some.

It could be helping someone, making money, providing for your family, finding a job, or even making a dent in the cosmos. Check sample responses no. 1, 2, 3, 5, or 7 for motivational goals, and try to find something that resonates with you or at least describes your current situation and emotions.

Bringing a smile to your interviewers’ faces can only help you.

Why not say something humorous? For instance, you have no motivation to wake up in the morning because you work night shifts at your current job. Or that the need to urinate awakens you.

You can rest assured that hiring managers will be amused by this response, unless they employ poker faces. In the end, you will almost always be competing with others for the job.

Saying the same thing everyone else says in the interview will not make much of a difference for you. Do not fear experimenting with a humorous response or saying something unexpected. As long as it makes sense, it can only benefit your job search.

You should enjoy your current position, but not too much

Many people claim that their job has a meaningful purpose and that they have no trouble getting up and going to work because they enjoy it so much. This is a wonderful statement to make, but not necessarily in a job interview.

Consider it for a while. Why would you look for another job if you adore your current position, find it purposeful, and look forward to going to work each morning? It makes no sense whatsoever.

If you choose this response, you must elaborate on your words. Surely, you enjoy your job, but something, or some reason, compels you to seek employment elsewhere. It could be a desire to advance in your career, a strained relationship with your supervisor, or a change in your living situation that necessitated a job switch. As long as it makes sense, they will accept your response…

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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