What you should really talk about in your next interview to land that job

What is your intrinsic motivation for applying for that job?

This is the question you should be answering if you want to impress at your next interview, according to several studies.

But what does this mean exactly?

There are two types of motivation you can talk about when applying for a job:

Your extrinsic motivation – these are the things you want to achieve by working for the company in question, such as career progression or financial security
Your intrinsic motivation – this is all about why you do what you do. What do you love about your work? What do you find interesting or meaningful about it?

A recent article by the Harvard Business Review delved into the issue. The publication conducted five studies to see what impressed recruiters the most during job interviews – extrinsic or intrinsic motivation? They found that candidates that spoke about the “meaning they derive from their work” are far more attractive to potential employers.

What do you love about your work? What do you really hope to achieve as part of the process of working at that company?

The studies found that “people fail to predict the power of such a statement of intrinsic motivation on the impression they make.”

When to talk about your intrinsic motivation in your next interview

Here’s how to recognise if you are being asked about intrinsic motivation in your interview. Questions could include:

What kind of work culture or environment are you most happy in?
What is your biggest dream in life?
How would you define success for your career?
What did you want to be when you were a child?
What motivates you best in your job performance?
What are you passionate about?

All of these questions are intended to get to the bottom of why you really want that job.

Tips for talking about intrinsic motivation in your next interview

Be honest – honesty is the best way to make yourself seem passionate and enthused about what you’re talking about. Recruiters will be given an insight into what makes you tick and be better able to understand you as a person and an employee.
Prepare – you might not know what intrinsically motivates you! Ask yourself the question before you go to an interview so you can give a considered, detailed answer. Think about what you have loved about doing previous jobs, what tasks you most look forward to, and how your role ties in with your wider ethics or views?
Put yourself in the shoes of the person interviewing you and what they want to hear. Is it how their company will help you climb the career ladder, or how your motivation and passion for the industry will help their company?

Read more interview tips on the alumni blog