“What gets you up in the morning?” is a rather common interview question. It’s a question that’s usually asked by interviewers to get a handle on what motivates you and gets you going. The interviewer wants to learn more about you as a person; they’re also angling to discover what you value in life. While it is okay to talk about what motivates you in general (for example, your kids or your family) you should aim to tie your motivation to some aspect of your career or work field. Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing your answer.
Points to Emphasize
Be detailed and give specific examples: Talk about your skills and background when answering. Back everything up with examples from your studies, work experience, and other activities that are relevant to the requirements of the job.
Be honest: Interviewers genuinely want to know as much as possible about the candidate in front of them, and what that person might be like to work with on a daily basis. So when thinking of an honest answer, give some serious thought to what gets you up in morning.
Think about what motivates you personally and professionally: Don’t be afraid to talk about big goals when answering. If you want to be in a director position down the road in your career (and you’re getting up every day, and taking steps to make that move happen) note that.
Explain how your motivation has shaped your career path: Once you’ve described your career goal and briefly outlined your plan for getting there, connect your answer back to the job you’re interviewing for. Make sure you demonstrate that you’ve really thought about the position and how it will fit into your life and career trajectory.
For example, let’s say you want to work in education, and you’ve done a lot of education-related volunteer work during your four years in college. You can explain how that volunteer work was a driver for your career decision. By telling the employer about your future goals and why you’re inspired by them, you’ll demonstrate to the employer that you’re being proactive by thinking far in advance about your career.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Although there really isn’t a bad motivator, you should watch out for these tricks when responding to this question.
Avoid giving a broad statement that could apply to anyone: Avoid vague, brief statements, such as “My love of finance.” It is not an effective answer. Instead, explain why you love finance, and talk about the elements of the job that really excite you (i.e., the ones that get you up in the morning!).
Don’t state your motivations for wanting this particular job: This isn’t about why you’re interested in this job in particular—that’s an entirely different question.
Take these sample answers into consideration when hashing out your response to the interview question “What gets you up in the morning?”
“My kids are the biggest motivators in my life. They’re the main reason why I decided to go back to school to study engineering. It’s a field I’d always been fascinated by, and through intensive courses, two internships, and one entry-level position, I slowly but surely learned to become an accomplished engineer. I get up every morning to keep growing in my field so I can one day take on a management role, and provide my family with the absolute best life possible.”
“Being praised for a job well done—and believing in the work I do—motivates me to get out of bed in the morning. I like knowing that I’m appreciated, because I give every job my all, and I also like knowing that the work I’m doing is producing results that matter to people everywhere.”
“I’m really motivated by helping kids from low-income backgrounds, and I’ve done a lot of volunteer work in this area throughout my time in college. It’s easy to be passionate about something so meaningful, but it’s especially important to me because of my background and where I’m from.”
If you’re an experienced candidate, you can go into a lot more detail. For example, when I think of my work in recruitment and coaching, I could talk about examples where I was able to provide someone an opportunity they may not have otherwise had, or when I improved a process that’s made everyone’s life easier.
Be enthusiastic and honest when answering the interview question “What gets you up in the morning?” Provide the interviewer with a well-thought response that speaks to both who you are professionally, and who you are in a larger, greater sense.
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