Job Interview Question: How Have You Motivated Others?

During a job interview, interviewers want to get a better view of your personality, what motivates you, and how you behave in the workplace. The most common way for them to assess this is by asking behavioral job interview questions. An example of a behavioral interview question is ‘How have you motivated others?‘. As you can see, this question requires you to provide the interviewer with a work experience example of how you motivate others in the workplace.

Questions about motivating others are usually asked in management interviews. However, they are also frequently asked for positions in which teamwork is essential. There are several ways interviewers can ask you a similar question, such as:

  • How do you motivate others?
  • What incentives do you use to motivate coworkers to reach common goals?
  • How do you persuade others to adopt your ideas?
  • Describe a leadership experience.
  • Tell me about a situation in which you had to motivate a colleague?

Learn more about management interview questions and how to answer them!

In this blog, we discuss why the interviewer is asking how you have motivated others. Also, we tell you what you should focus on when answering this question. Furthermore, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.

Why The Interviewer Is Asking How You Motivate Others?

Everybody encounters situations at work where someone needs to be motivated to do their work, whether this was a colleague or subordinate. In these situations, the interviewer wants to know how you work with different kinds of people with different personalities.

As discussed earlier on in this blog, questions such as ‘How do you motivate others?‘ are behavioral interview questions. Behavioral job interview questions focus on work situations that you experienced in the past and how you responded to them. The way you respond to these questions tells the interviewer more about your work methods and ethics.

The rationale behind behavioral questions is that by analyzing your past behavior is the best indicator to predict your future job performance. For interviewers, it’s the most pragmatic way to uncover past work experiences.

Your answer to this particular interview question should give the interviewer insight into your leadership (potential) and interpersonal style in a professional setting.

If you’re applying to a job in which you need to supervise employees, lead teams, or manage projects, you can definitely expect this interview question, just like other commonly asked interview questions.

However, you don’t have to be a manager or team leader to demonstrate your ability to motivate others. It’s always good to provide the interviewer an example in which you show that you can listen to others and provide them with words of encouragement if needed. Being a positive influence in your team or on the work floor, in general, is a great asset.

Tips For Answering Questions About How You Motivate Others

If you get asked this question you should view this as a great opportunity to convince the interviewer that you are able to motivate others. Furthermore, it’s a great opportunity to sell your skills in the form of a concrete situation that you encountered during your career.

When you’re preparing your answer on motivating others, think of the strategies that you have used in the past to effectively motivate others.

It’s essential that you show the interviewer that you understand the perspectives and needs of others in the workplace through a clear example. In addition, your focus should be on demonstrating that you are able to motivate co-workers while maintaining the skills to communicate visions and goals clearly.

Always try to relate your answer to the job requirements of the job that you’re applying for. This is because the interviewer is most likely looking for specific skills when he or she asks you this question. Examples to include in your answer can be:

  • Praising performance
  • Recognizing the ability of team members
  • Understanding what someone can bring to the team
  • The ability to set a good example yourself through your actions

Your goal

Employers look for candidates who can solve problems and be articulate enough about a solution that they can influence people to action.

Your goal is to demonstrate the skills that are necessary to succeed in the company’s work environment and being able to successfully motivate the members on your team, whether this is in general or in a management position.

The most effective way to convince the interviewer is by sharing a story where you successfully influenced a coworker on the right decision of a project or task. It’s important that your answer includes positive professional behavior of influence. Furthermore, it should display your critical thinking skills about problems to come to a sound solution.

How to structure your answer

Answering behavioral questions means that you need to provide the interviewer with real-life examples of your past actions in a professional work environment. The interviewer wants to get to know more about your professional behavior and how you react in certain situations. Your answers indicate to them how you are most likely to act in situations if you would face them again.

The STAR interview technique is the most efficient way to provide the interviewer with a logically structured ‘story’ of specific work experiences. STAR is an acronym that stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Therefore, when you structure your answer on how you motivated others, always use the STAR interview technique.

Below the STAR interview technique is broken down in steps.

Situation

First, you describe the context around the situation or the specific challenge that you faced. Don’t forget to include relevant details so that the interviewer exactly understands the situation and why somebody needed to be motivated.

Task

In the ‘task’ part of the STAR-method, you describe your responsibilities or specific role in the situation that you described earlier.

Action

The action part explains how you handled the particular situation that you’re talking about. If you were working in a team on the project don’t forget to include this.

Furthermore, explain what actions you took to motivate the person described in your situation.

Result

After you walked the interview through the situation, your task, and the actions you took, talk about the result. This means that you should highlight the outcome you reached through your actions. If you can quantify this, this is even better. For example ‘we were able to increase the sales by 20%‘. The more concrete the example in your answer is, the better.

Sample Answers To Questions About How You Motivate Others

Below we discuss a couple of example answers to explain how you motivate others. However, remember that these are just general examples and you should tailor your answers to the position that you’re applying for.

The better your answer connects to the job requirements the higher the chances of making a strong impression on the interviewer.

Sample Answer 1:

‘In my previous job, I was dependent upon the work of a colleague in our team to reach the set project goals. He was fairly new to the team and I saw that he was somewhat struggling in reaching his targets. I had a one-on-one conversation with him and asked him what I could do to help him reach his project goals.

I asked him about what motivated him and if I could help him reach his targets to make sure that we would complete our project successfully. He told me that he wished that he would get a little more recognition for the work that he put in and the input that he had to the project in general.

I explained the importance of the project and that we were working for an important client. After he expressed his thoughts I told him that I would be happy to nominate him for an employee recognition award if we would finish the project within the deadline and if the client would give us positive feedback on it. Together with the team, we finished the project in time and I nominated my colleague for the ‘Rookie of the Year’ company award which he won.’

Sample Answer 2:

‘In my previous job as a project manager, I used a range of approaches to motivate team members. This started as soon as projects were kicked-off. I delegated tasks to the team and put up a reward for important projects. For instance, if we would successfully finish a project I would take the team to the new restaurant in town.

Once the project started I would schedule weekly meetings where we would discuss the planning and progress to make sure that everybody knew the status and that we were working towards our goals. During these meetings, I would let everybody update the team of their specific progress and discuss what they might need from their teammates. This way the team was motivated to work harder in order to not let their coworkers down.

During the project, I would also check up on all team members individually to see if encountered any issues or if they had any questions. Because I’m the manager I’m responsible for the project as a whole and therefore I want to help out where I can and motivate them when needed. If the project was a success I would report the specific team members that went above and beyond for the team to the directors for a potential promotion. Of course, I would keep my promise too, and take the team out for dinner afterward.’

Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers

Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Adaptability
  3. Admission
  4. Behavioral
  5. Career Change
  6. Career Goals
  7. Communication
  8. Competency
  9. Conflict Resolution
  10. Creative Thinking
  11. Cultural Fit
  12. Customer Service
  13. Direct
  14. Experience
  15. Government
  16. Graduate
  17. Growth Potential
  18. Honesty & Integrity
  19. Illegal
  20. Inappropriate
  21. Job Satisfaction
  22. Leadership
  23. Management
  24. Entry-Level & No experience
  25. Performance-Based
  26. Personal
  27. Prioritization & Time Management
  28. Problem-solving
  29. Salary
  30. Situational & Scenario-based
  31. Stress Management
  32. Teamwork
  33. Telephone Interview
  34. Tough
  35. Uncomfortable
  36. Work Ethic