Motivational Fit: 4 Interview Questions to Ask

It’s easier to find quality employees who are passionate and motivated about your role and the company if you ask the right questions during their interview. These help you better understand if they’re a great motivational fit and if they match your company’s current values and motivational goals. Learn more about what motivational fit is, follow tips for asking motivational interview questions and review sample motivational questions and answers for your next interview.


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What is motivational fit?

Motivational fit occurs when you’re trying to determine if certain candidates’ motivations align with what your organization is looking for in a candidate to determine if they’re a good fit. For instance, if they’re applying for a marketing manager role and they seem motivated about leading and advising other employees, they could be a great motivational fit for the role. 

Answering questions centered on what drives and motivates employees helps you gain a better understanding of their passions and ability to motivate others around them. 


Different types of motivation

Motivation is the reason an employee decides to complete a task. It’s usually what helps drive them to act on something and meet their goals. The two common types of motivation are: 



This type of motivation comes from inside the individual and is the main type of motivation you want candidates and employees to showcase. Intrinsic motivation involves completing a task because an employee is passionate about it and wants to receive internal satisfaction from it. Many managers aim for their employees to feel intrinsic motivation to complete their responsibilities and to push and challenge themselves to improve their performance.



Extrinsic motivation occurs when an individual works to complete a task with the intentions of receiving a specific physical reward from it. This could be a raise, social recognition or public recognition. 


Tips for asking motivational interview questions

Follow these tips to determine if the candidate you’re interviewing is the best motivational fit for the role and your company: 


Determine your ideal answers to these questions 

Meet with your interview team beforehand to determine which qualities and traits you look for in a candidate when it comes to motivational fit. From there, determine the ideal answers both you and your team are looking for. Come up with questions together, then discuss the qualities everyone’s looking for in an answer. This helps you all remain in sync and allows you to align your goals and search for similar types of ideal candidates.


Try to find out what motivates them most about their role

During the interview, ask in-depth questions that help you understand their past performance and what about their previous role motivated them the most. This helps you better uncover their motivational skills and work ethic to learn how they’ll apply it in a role with your company. 


Ask open-ended questions

When you ask questions to your interviewers, try to provide open-ended questions that require explanations from the candidate. They can be situational questions that help you grasp their motivational process in certain instances, or you could ask behavioral questions to learn how they handled similar responsibilities and duties in their previous role. Open-ended questions let you understand who the candidate is both as a person and an employee. 


Sample motivational interview questions

Use these sample motivational interview questions and answers as a guide to understanding what to look for in an ideal candidate’s answers to common motivational questions. 


Which job title have you held that’s been your favorite and why? 

Hire someone who’s passionate about their role and the responsibilities it entails. The candidate should explain what they enjoyed about a similar position and why they enjoyed it. As they answer, learn what skills they developed, the tasks they finished and what they learned from the role. The ideal candidate should be excited to tell you about their previous role and the accomplishments they met.

Example answer: “My favorite position I’ve ever held was a role I once held as a content coordinator. I was in charge of planning, writing, scheduling and publishing our content campaigns. I loved researching new topics to educate our target audience on and providing them with valuable content that would cause them to convert from a lead to a customer. That’s why I’m looking forward to this role as it seems like I’d be completing similar tasks for your company.”


Describe your ideal work environment and what you like about it.

This question helps you understand the candidate’s work ethic and the type of environment that keeps them productive and motivated. If your office layout contains cubicles and the employee feels more motivated to complete tasks in a quiet, independent atmosphere, then they could be a great fit. Consider candidates who thrive in a collaborative environment if you have many group projects you plan to assign them.

Example answer: “I’m adaptable when it comes to the environments I work well in, but I think the one I work best in is a group-based, collaborative environment. I enjoy brainstorming new ideas and bouncing them off of my other team members. Coming up with creative solutions as a team makes me feel energized and excited to implement the project for others to see.”

Related: Establishing an Incredible Team Culture: Five Things to Try


What’s your process for making sure you stay productive and on top of your tasks? 

It’s important to determine what motivates your candidates and keeps them feeling productive and motivated. Use this question to help you learn their strategy for finishing their tasks and how they reward themselves for their hard work. 

Example answer: “I use a task management tool to organize my tasks for the week and then I’ll set a goal for myself to complete a certain number of items each day. If I reach my goal every day, I’ll reword myself at the end of the week with a treat like a movie or dessert item. This physical reward, along with my personal sense of accomplishment is what motivates me to continue completing more of my work tasks.”


Tell me about a time when you’ve motivated other employees to overcome workplace challenges. 

Not only should your ideal employee excel at motivating themselves to complete tasks, but they should be great at encouraging others to finish theirs. When employees see other positive, motivational employees excited to complete their work items, they’ll want to do the same. Find an employee who clearly describes a time when they motivated their employees and created an engaging environment. 

Example: “I once worked on a group project to present potential accounting software tools our business should use. My team and I had many other work items to complete that week, so we needed to stay later if we were going to submit it by the deadline. Many of my team members were reluctant to continue working late, but I explained how much better we’d feel once we completed the project on time and delivered a great final product that we took our time on. They all agreed and we provided a great project that impressed the leadership team.”

Motivational interview questions are a great way to gauge your employees’ motivational skills. Ask questions that help them express this to find a motivated candidate who will work commit to your company.

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