Direct interview questions are specific questions that directly relate to the position that you’re applying for. The goal of these questions is to gauge your suitability, drive, commitment, and motivation for the job.
Think, for instance, of a question such as ‘ What aspects of the job do you think you’ll like? And which you think you’ll dislike?‘ Even though this is a tricky question, it requires you to give insights into how much you know about the role and how excited you are about it. Another example question is, ‘Why do you think this position would be different or better than your current job?‘
Direct interview questions can determine your motivation, drive, and commitment. These questions can also be competency-based (also known as behavioral interview questions) to uncover your commitment in the context of your past professional experience and behavior. An example of such a question is, ‘Tell me about a time you went above and beyond your role and expectations. What did you do, and why did you do this?‘As you can see, this question requires you to provide more information about how you go about your work and what motivates you. The answers you give are used to determine whether or not you’re the right fit for the position.
The answers you give the interviewers should convince them that you are the perfect candidate for the position. With the right preparation, you can use direct interview questions to your advantage by showing your suitability for the job.
In this article, we discuss why direct interview questions are used and how you should answer them. Also, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and how you should answer them. You can check our job interview preparation checklist here.
Why the interviewer is asking direct interview questions
Direct interview questions about the position are asked, amongst others, to figure out whether or not your motivation and commitment are what the company is looking for. Interviewers look for actual evidence that you want the job and that you have a sense of responsibility towards the goals of the company in general.
For interviewers, finding the right candidate for a specific job can be hard. However, finding someone skilled, committed, and motivated for the job is even harder.
During interviews, it’s relatively easier to assess technical skills than finding out if a candidate is really motivated or if he or she is a self-starter. However, for employers, uncovering intangible traits such as motivation, commitment, drive, and leadership is essential.
Employees who possess the right drive and motivation can grow into a successful leader who, in turn, can help others develop themselves.
In short, direct interview questions are used to assess several factors, such as:
- What motivates you?
- In what type of work environment do you thrive?
- Is the work environment of the job consistent with your needs to be a self-starter and take the initiative?
Interviewers are looking for small cues in your answers about your motivation and drive. Think, for instance, about you helping others, being creative in order to solve a problem, finishing a project in time, and in general doing whatever it takes to get the job done and making others better.
What is work commitment, and why is this important for employers?
Work commitment is the bond employees experience with the company they are working for. This commitment is directly related to work performance and added value. You can imagine that it’s important for interviewers to find candidates who are motivated and committed to their work.
Employees who are committed generally feel a connection with the company they work for. In addition, they have a feeling that they fit in and that they understand the goals of the company.
The value that committed employees can add to a company comes from the fact that they tend to be more determined in their work. Furthermore, they show relatively high levels of productivity and are more proactive in general and supportive of others.
Committed employees are more enthusiastic about the tasks that they get assigned in the workplace. Also, they have a greater feeling of responsibility towards their goals, vision, and mission of the company that they work for.
For employers, employee satisfaction is just as important. Employee satisfaction is related to work commitment and engagement within a company. This all can result in a superior performance, which in turn can lead to increased productivity, profitability, employee retention, and an overall improvement in the workplace. Therefore, you can understand why employers are looking for job candidates who are committed and motivated to perform their jobs.
The best way to maintain and improve commitment in the workplace is by building strong teams and letting employees know what’s expected from them. This is also the reason why interviewers ask you questions such as, for instance, ‘what is your ideal work environment?‘ They are trying to assess whether or not you will be a good addition to the team, and if you can live up to the job requirements.
Questions to test your commitment, drive, and motivation
Basic questions you need to be able to answer to demonstrate your commitment are, for instance:
- What do you know about the position?
- What do you know about the company and the industry?
- Why did you apply for this position?
- How does this position fit into your career plan?
- What are your long-term career goals?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- What were the reasons for leaving your past jobs?
- How will you bring value to this position?
- Why should we hire you?
- What is your ideal work environment?
- Do you have any hesitations about this job?
The cost to find, hire, and train new employees are significant and also time-consuming. The answers you give to the questions above give interviewer more insight into if you:
- Fully understand what will be expected of you in the position.
- Actually like the tasks that will be assigned to you in the position.
- Will make every effort to complete your tasks to the set quality standard.
Why interviewers are interested in your drive, commitment, and motivation
There are multiple reasons for interviewers to gauge your drive, commitment, and motivation. The first and foremost reason is that they want to find out how serious you are about the position and assess how well you would perform in the role.
During a job interview, interviewers ask about your resume and ask questions to assess your qualifications and skills. Also, they will ask you competency-based interview questions to go more in-depth. However, to really find out whether or not you’re serious about the position, they will ask you direct questions related to the actual position. The answers to these questions should demonstrate your personal motivation, your sense of responsibility, and the loyalty you have towards an employer.
Besides wanting to find out if a candidate possesses the needed skills and motivation, employers also want to check if the candidate intends to stay with the company for a reasonable amount of time. As you can imagine, if a company hires the right candidates and he or she decides to leave within a year or so, this leads to additional costs to hire another employee but also disruption in teams.
Interviewers are looking for candidates who fit into the company culture and who can successfully perform the job. Below we discuss important elements that play a part in the use of direct interview questions to uncover your drive and motivation.
Your long term career plan
If an employer makes the wrong hiring decision, this does not only cost money; it can also negatively impact productivity.
Interviewers will definitely ask you about your long term career plans. It’s therefore important that you provide them with an answer that is strategic and favorable to that company. Therefore, in your preparation, you need to think about answering the question, ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’
Of course, when you’re applying to a junior or graduate position, the interviewer does not expect you to stay forever. However, make sure that you have a plan ready to discuss and figure out where the company and the role you’re applying for now play a role.
The best way to discuss your career plan is by focusing your answers on your own personal development. If possible, talk about how you can achieve your career goals within the company of the potential employer.
When you’re applying to a more senior position, you can show your commitment by discussing your knowledge and expertise and how this can benefit the company. For instance, talk about how you intend to add value to the team with areas of knowledge that may not already exist.
If the work environment fits you
The right work environment can help employees thrive and maximize their potential. When employees are satisfied, engaged, and happy, they are much more likely to perform to their maximum potential. Just like negativity is contagious, positivity is too.
To assess your drive and motivation, the interviewer can ask you, for instance, to describe your ideal work environment. They ask you this to figure out whether or not you will be a good fit for the job and company.
Therefore, when the topic of ideal work environments comes up, talk about how you were drawn in by the company culture and values because they align with your own.
For employers, cultural fit is as important as your fit for the job and your ability to perform the duties of the job that you’re applying for. A great cultural fit is associated with several benefits for employers, but also the employee. It leads to greater job satisfaction, better job performance, improved employee well-being, higher retention rates, and a better alignment on a strategic level.
If your interest in the job is genuine
During your job interview, the interviewer is trying to figure out if you’re genuinely interested in the position and company. Interviewers are trained to spot the difference between someone who is just looking for a job and someone really excited about a job that aligns with their career goals.
Make sure that you are not only telling that you’re interested but that you actually show that this is the case. There are several ways you can do this:
- Don’t play it cool because you think you will get a higher offer. Interviewers look for candidates who want to work at their company and show genuine interest.
- Demonstrate that you’re really interested in the job through positive body language and a clear tone of voice. Your body language is part of your communication and is just as important as the verbal part. Maintaining eye contact is essential to show a connection and genuine interest in what the interviewer is saying.
- Stay engaged during the interview and ask the interviewer questions back when suitable. Demonstrate active listening skills and show that you’re enthusiastic about the opportunity.
Frequently asked direct interview questions about commitment
Below you can find examples of commonly asked job interview questions to assess your commitment, drive, and motivation. Below each question, a short explanation is given of what the interviewer is looking for in your answer.
Why do you want to work for this company?
It’s important that your answer actually explains why this particular company and job appeals to you, and why this is the case. Also, spend some time researching the company and its mission and corporate goals. Study the job description and match your skills and abilities to the requirements.
What critical feedback do you most often receive?
This question is closely related to ‘What is your greatest weakness?‘ The goal of this question is to find out if you possess self-reflection and if you’re self-aware. This is an opportunity for you to discuss a genuine weakness of your and at the same time, discuss how you’re actively working on your self-improvement. Provide the interviewer with a short explanation of the critique that you have received and how you are working on improving yourself.
What is your ideal work environment to work in?
Interviewers want to hear from you in which work environment you thrive, and you are the happiest. Thoroughly researching the organization that you’re applying for can help you figure out whether or not the company culture and work environment suit you. If this is the case, you need to ensure that you are able to express why the company and position suit you.
How would your coworkers describe you?
This interview question is used to assess your self-awareness and to get a sense of how you perceive yourself. Furthermore, it gives them a basis to compare your self-assessment with how people you know describe you. Based on your answer, the interviewers can gauge whether or not your qualities would be a good addition for the team and company.
How do you handle stress?
This question regards your self-awareness as well. It’s important to know for interviewers how you perform under stress. Many jobs have some level of stress as a component of the day-to-day business. The interviewer wants to know if you can handle stress in a constructive way with a positive attitude to maintain a positive company culture.
Specific job interview questions to assess your commitment
- Why do you want to leave your current position?
- Describe what you consider a healthy work/life balance.
- What could your current employer change about your position, team, or company culture to keep you working for them?
- If you could choose, would you go for a higher salary in a work environment that does not really fit you or for a lower salary to work in your ideal work environment?
- What would motivate you to stay at our organization for the next five years?
Specific job interview questions to discover your motivation
- What motivates you to go to work every day?
- When you’re assigned repetitive work, how do you motivate yourself to keep going and provide high-quality work?
- How would you define success in your career?
- What is your biggest dream in life?
- What specific career goals have you set for the next 5 years? And what goals for the long-term?
Behavioral job interview questions to assess your commitment, drive, and motivation
Behavioral interview questions require you to provide an example of a previous work situation that you experienced. They are commonly used to assess your commitment, drive, and motivation for the job. Example behavioral questions are:
- Tell me about a work situation in which you motivated others. What did you do?
- Describe a situation in which you initiated an idea that involved collaboration with your coworkers to improve the business.
- What techniques or processes did you learn to make your job easier or more effective/productive?
- Tell me about a time when you identified a new or different approach to tackle an issue or task.
- Tell me about a time you went above and beyond to help out a customer.
- Describe a situation when you had an idea that was great for your work, your team, or the company. How did you get others excited about your idea, and what did you do to make sure the idea came to life?
- Tell me about a time when your work was criticized. What as the reason, and what did you do to address your critics?
- How have you handled situations in the workplace when your personal motivation was negatively impacted due to certain actions of persons or events?
- What is your greatest accomplishment? Why?
- What have been your most positive and negative management experiences?
How do you prepare answers to direct behavioral job interview questions?
There are several important elements to consider in your preparation for behavioral job interview questions that regard your commitment, drive, and motivation. To get a thorough understanding of the company and the position, you can take the steps described below.
Analyze the job description and company
The first step to prepare yourself for your job interview is analyzing the job description and company. This will get you a better idea of the company culture and the requirements for the position. Read the job description carefully to identify the required skills, abilities, and competencies.
Also, analyze the company in general. Make sure you have a good understanding of their products, services, and clients or customers. Analyze the markets that the company is active in and make sure that you have basic knowledge of the latest trends and news.
Make a list of required skills, abilities, and competencies
Understanding the required skills, abilities, and competencies for a position is the basis of all your answers. A job interview is a great opportunity for you to show that you possess the needed talent and competencies. Based on the research you do, you can make a list of the most important requirements needed for the job.
Make a list of your past (work) experiences that relate to the job requirements
Based on the skills, abilities, and competencies that you have identified, you can start thinking of questions that you are most likely to get asked during your job interview. Based on these questions, you can start structuring answer scenarios. Think of work experiences that directly relate to the position.
For instance, if you’re applying to a creative position and you expect a question such as ‘Tell me about a time when you identified a new or different approach to tackle an issue or task,’ make sure you can demonstrate your creative thinking skills.
Focus on positive work experiences in your answers and make sure that your answers show behavior that is also needed for the job that you’re applying for.
Practice these answers enough to ensure that you can provide a concise and to-the-point answer during the interview.
Focus your answers on successful and challenging situations
This is your moment to shine, so make sure to highlight successful situations in your answers. However, you should also be prepared to discuss interview questions that regard challenging situations.
Think, for instance of a question such as ‘Tell me about the biggest challenges you faced when starting a new job‘ It’s important that you have example situations ready that you have encountered in the past in which you had to overcome a challenge and adapt.
Ensure that you can provide an answer where you came out successfully. The interviewer is interested in how you acted in certain situations and how you approach challenging ones.
Of course, you should highlight successful situations you have been in, in your interview answers. However, you should also prepare to discuss challenging situations. Interviewers want to know how you act when you face a challenge.
Also, take into account that you will most likely encounter follow-up questions to test your self-awareness. For instance, they might ask you what you have learned from the situation or how you would handle a similar situation differently today.
STAR interview technique to structure answers to direct interview questions
The STAR interview technique is a way for you to structure your interview answers logically. STAR is an acronym that stands for the situation (S) you were in, the task (T) that needed to be completed, the actions (A) to you to address the situation, and what results (R) you got from your actions.
The STAR method allows you to communicate all important details structured logically for the interviewer to understand. It’s very useful to provide clear and concise answers.
Make sure that you demonstrate the needed competencies for the job that you’re applying for. You can be sure that the interviewer is looking for those skills and abilities. Therefore, match your qualifications to the job and skills, as mentioned in the job description.
Again, focus on providing positive answers that include demonstrable results and positive learning experiences.
General tips for answering direct interview questions
- Preparation is key. Make sure to do your homework. Analyze the job specification and investigate the company website.
- Start by identifying the required skills and competencies. Based on this research, you can start creating a list of potential interview questions that you expect.
- When you’re expecting behavioral interview questions; use the STAR interview technique to prepare short answer stories. Write these stories down and make sure to include important details such as the situation, your task, the actions took, and the results.
- Practice these answers. Use your list of questions that you expect and practice a mock interview.
- During the interview, listen carefully to what the interviewer asks you. Provide short and concise answers to make sure the interviewer can follow you.
- When you do not immediately know the answer to a question; don’t panic. Just take a deep breath and take a moment before you answer.
- If possible, quantify the results you have achieved in certain situations. Quantifying them give your answers more weight.
- Be yourself. Avoid coming across as a robot that recites answers.
Sample answers to direct interview questions
The examples below are general answer examples. Therefore, make sure that when you’re preparing your own answers, you focus them on the requirements of the job that you’re applying for. Include enough details in your answers to convince the interviewers that you’re the right person for the job!
Example Question & Answer 1:
‘Why do you think this job is the right move for you in your career?’
‘I’ve learned a lot in my previous job. I was lucky enough to get hired right out of university after successfully completing my graduate internship at a tech startup. I’ve had the opportunity to establish my own position within the company and wore many hats during my four years there.
I’ve been one of the top marketers at the company and increase my sales by more than 20% since last year. Currently, I’m looking forward to taking my sales skills into a more senior position at a renowned company. I was excited when I saw this opportunity that’s a perfect fit for my experience and skills.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- This answer directly addresses why you are making a career move.
- The provided answer is very positive in nature and emphasizes that you have worked in a challenging work environment before.
- The answer quantifies your work accomplishments, which gives more weight to your answer and why you think you’re suitable for the job.
Example Question & Answer 2:
‘How do you handle stressful work situations?’
‘From my work experience, I can say that clear communication has always been important to me in stressful work situations. Getting everybody on the same page and in sync with responsibilities worked best for me.
An example of this is when I was managing a project in which we worked together with another team, and we found that there was an overlap in work that was being done.
By gathering both teams and scheduling weekly sprint meetings, we could discuss the work that was done and prioritize goals for the next weeks. This led to our project running more efficient and staying on track. By establishing and maintaining open communication lines within the teams, we were able to catch up and finish the project ahead of time.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- This example shows that you take the initiative when needed. Also, the example is written by using the STAR method.
- The answer directly relates to the question and shows that you are able to handle stressful situations in a constructive way. This also impacts company culture in a positive way, which is what interviewers are looking for.
- This example answer demonstrates important skills such as communication skills, proactiveness, teamwork, problem-solving skills, and adaptability.
Example Question & Answer 3:
‘Tell me about the work environment or company culture that you’re most happy and productive in?’
‘I have worked in different types of work environments, and company cultures and learned something from each. For me personally, I thrive in work environments and company cultures that center around working as part of a team, but still have room for individual development, contributions, and input. The most important aspect for me is that I get to work with passionate professionals who are as committed as I am to getting things done.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- This answer shows that you have experience with different environments and that you know which ones suit you better. This is a plus because you directly address the interviewer’s question.
- The answer indicates that you enjoy working as part of a team but that you’re also looking for opportunities to develop yourself as an individual. This basically shows that you’re flexible in your work, which is what most employers look for.
NOTE: For interview questions like these, it’s very important that you align your vision of the ideal workplace with the company’s current work environment and company culture. When you’re not doing this, it can impact your chances of getting the job.