Job Interview Question: How Have You Motivated Others?

When you’re applying for a job you can expect behavioral job interview questions. These are frequently asked interview questions¬†such as ‘how have you motivated others?’ or ‘Describe a situation in which you motivated someone’. These type of questions are asked to find out how you will react in on-the-job situations in real life.

Usually, this question is asked for managerial positions. However, it can also be asked for job positions in which individual contributors are working on a team. You can imagine that if you’re working on a team where you are depending on the work of other team members to accomplish your goals, you need to be able to motivate your co-workers. In short, the interviewer is looking for how you motivate others.

Other ways the interviewer can ask you about how you motivate others is:

  • How do you motivate others?
  • Give me an example of how you have motivated others
  • How do you motivate others within your team?
  • How do you overcome complexities when someone did not cooperate within your team?
  • Do you find it difficult to motivate others?
  • How do you influence the behavior of others?

Why the interviewer is asking how you motivated others?

The interviewer wants to know how you work with different kinds of people who have different kinds of personalities. The example situations you tell the interviewer are good indicators on how you will react to similar situations in the future. It’s important for an interviewer to get an understanding of your behavior in the workplace. He or she is genuinely interested in your beliefs and experiences.

The answer that you will give the interviewer will give them insights into your leadership (potential) and interpersonal style in a professional setting. If you’re applying to a job in which you need to supervise staff, lead teams or manage projects, you can definitely expect this question. However, you don’t have to be a manager or team leader to showcase 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 words of encouragement if needed. Being a positive influence in your team or on the work floor, in general, is a great asset.

Tips to answer job interview questions on motivating 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 have used in the past to effectively motivate others. It’s important that you show the interviewer that you understand the perspectives and needs of others, based on the situation that you describe. 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 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.

Structuring your answer

When you structure your answer on how you motivated others, always use the STAR-Method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This method is best used to answer behavioral job interview questions. Behavioral interview questions are used to learn how you behaved in previous work situations. The interviewer is looking for real-life examples of your past actions in a professional work environment. Also, these examples indicate to them how you are most likely to act in situations if you faced these situations again. Below the STAR-method is broken down:

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.

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. Give others credit where credit is due, but keep a focus on your own performance at all times.

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 action. 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 on motivating others

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.’