How to answer: “What motivated you to apply for this position?“

How to answer: “What motivated you to apply for this position?“
SEEK content teamupdated on 01 February, 2024

Making it to the interview stage of a job application is a huge achievement, but the hard work doesn’t stop there. It’s important to walk into your interview feeling prepared, confident and ready to answer any question that comes your way. 

One question that often pops up is, “What motivated you to apply for this position?” The interviewer usually asks this question to get an idea of your interest in the role and to see if you've done your homework about the company and the role. 

Your response can reveal a lot about where you see your career heading and how the particular role you’re going for fits into your career path. In this article, we take a look at the reasons why interviewers ask this, what they’re looking for in your response, and how to align your career goals with the role.

Why do employers ask “What motivated you to apply for this role?”

Employers often ask the question, “What motivated you to apply for this role?” as a way to make sure you're not simply going after the title or the salary. They want to make sure you understand what the position likely involves on a day-to-day basis and what would be expected of you. Employers are interested in hearing about your professional goals, so they can get an idea of whether the role is just a stepping stone in your career or if it fits in with your long-term plans.

Here’s what other information employers are looking for: 

  • What you know about the company: this shows whether you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested in what the company can offer.
  • Cultural fit: employers want to know if your values and work style align with the company's culture. A good cultural fit means a better overall work environment.
  • Reason for leaving your last job: this question can be an indirect way of finding out why you want to leave your current position. 
  • Long-term commitment: employers are interested in knowing your long-term plans with the company and how this job fits in with your career goals.
  • Interest in the company and role: lastly, employers want to know if your interest in the company and the role is genuine. They are looking for candidates who are not only qualified but also enthusiastic about the opportunity. 

“What motivated you to apply for this position” answers

Now that you understand the reasons why a hiring manager would ask this question, let’s look at how to craft an interview response that puts you in the best light and offers the best chance of landing the job. 

1. Research the company

Begin by thoroughly researching the company. Go beyond the surface-level information that’s on the company website and look for recent news articles, press releases and industry reports. It helps to understand the company’s strategic goals and any industry challenges that may be related to what you can offer. By referring to some of these insights in your answer, you show that your interest in the position is based on knowledge of the organisation and the industry.

2. Understand the company’s values, culture and mission

While you’re researching the company, take note of its values, culture, mission and vision. These elements give you an idea of how well you’ll fit into the organisation. If you can connect your personal values and professional views to the company's in your answer, you’ll give the impression that you’re a good cultural fit.

3. Review the job description

Carefully review the job description, paying attention to the key responsibilities and requirements. In your answer, connect the main duties of the role listed in the ad to your interests and abilities. This shows the hiring manager that you understand what the role entails and that you’re familiar with the responsibilities and scope of work. 

4. Align your skills and experience to the role and the company’s needs

Highlight specific aspects of your background that make you a strong candidate for the position. This includes relevant technical skills, soft skills and unique experiences. There’s no need to mention skills or experiences that aren’t relevant to the role.

5. Perform a self-assessment

As yourslf why are you attracted to this role and this company. How does this opportunity fit into your career path? This will help you craft a response that is both genuine and aligned with the role.

6. Incorporate industry-specific knowledge and relevant achievements

Finally, incorporate your industry-specific knowledge and achievements into your answer. This shows that you’re not only familiar with the industry but also have a track record of success that can be beneficial to the company.

“What motivated you to apply for this role?” Examples you can use

Ready to ace your interview? To help you create your own answer to the question, here are some sample responses you can personalise and practice.

Example 1: Alignment with company mission


"I am motivated to apply for this role at [company name] because I feel that your mission of [company's mission] resonates with my values. Having worked for several years in [industry/field], I am passionate about [specific aspects of the work] and see a great opportunity to contribute to your team with my skills in [specific skills]."

This response demonstrates a clear alignment between your values and the company's mission, showing that you’ll be genuinely invested in your work.

Example 2: Career growth and learning opportunities


"I was drawn to this position because of the opportunities for growth and learning it presents. In my previous role as [previous job title], I developed a strong foundation in [specific skills or area], and I am excited about further developing these skills in an industry-leading company like [company name]."

This answer highlights your desire for professional development and growth, suggesting a long-term commitment. It also shows your ambition and that you will likely be a proactive and engaged employee. 

Example 3: Passion for the industry


"My motivation for applying stems from my passion for [industry or field]. I have always admired [company name] for its innovation and leadership in [specific aspects of the industry]. My experience in [relevant experience] has equipped me with unique insights that I am eager to bring to your team."

This response showcases your passion and knowledge, showing you’re genuinely enthusiastic about the field and potentially a great asset to the organisation.

Example 4: Desire to solve industry challenges

"What motivated me to apply for this role is my interest in tackling the challenges currently facing [Industry or Field], particularly [specific challenge]. In my previous role at [previous company], I successfully [specific achievement or project related to the challenge], and I am excited about the possibility of applying this experience to similar challenges at [company name]."

This answer demonstrates your problem-solving skills and a desire to apply these skills to real-world challenges in the industry, for the benefit of the hiring company. 

Example 5: Cultural fit and work environment

"I am motivated to join [company name] because of its reputation for being a great place to work, with a supportive company culture. I feel that I work my best in places that foster [specific aspects of work culture], and your company’s commitment to [specific company culture aspect] aligns perfectly with my own personal values."
This response emphasises your fit with the company's culture, suggesting you will integrate well into the team and contribute positively to the work environment. If there are several applicants with the same skills, showing that you are a good fit with the company culture will give you an advantage.

Tips for answering the “What motivated you to apply for this position?” interview question

There’s no such thing as being too prepared when you step into the interview room. Here are additional tips to help you prepare a response that is authentic and impactful.

Prepare a list of key points

Instead of preparing a scripted response, make a list of key points you want to cover. This allows you to adapt your answer to the conversation, so it feels natural and genuine. These points could include aspects of the company or role that genuinely excite you, how your skills and experiences align with the job, and how the position fits into your career goals.

Focus on reasons beneficial to the company

While it's important to discuss your motivations, also focus on reasons that demonstrate your value to the company. Talk about how your skills, experiences and goals can contribute to the company's objectives and culture. This shows you're not only interested in what the company can do for you, but also what you can do for the company.

Keep responses brief

Avoid going on tangents or providing too much unnecessary detail. A brief, focused answer shows you can communicate effectively and respect the interviewer's time. Aim to strike a balance between being informative and succinct.

As you prepare for your interview, take the time to carefully craft and practise your response to this question. Reflect on your career goals and your actual motivations, and how they align with the role and what you can bring to the table. This will help you give an impactful answer that shares your genuine interest in the role and sets you apart from the crowd.


What are common mistakes to avoid when answering this question?

Common mistakes when answering “What motivated you to apply for this position?” include:

  • being too vague, 
  • showing a lack of research, 
  • focusing solely on salary or benefits, and
  • not aligning your answer with the company's values or the job role. 

Focus on specific aspects of the company or role that genuinely appeal to you and align with your career goals.

What are the key elements of a strong response to “What motivated you to apply for this position?”

Key elements of a strong response to this question include: 

  • demonstrating knowledge of the company and role, 
  • aligning your skills and experiences with the job, 
  • showing enthusiasm, and 
  • reflecting on your career goals and values. 

A strong response shows that you understand what the role entails and how your skills, experiences and achievements make you an asset to the organisation.

How can I tailor my response to stand out from other candidates?

To stand out, tailor your response to show that you understand the company's goals, and that they align with your experience and skills. This shows you’ve done your research and that you’re thinking about how you can add value to the company, setting you apart from other candidates.

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