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Oct 12, 2021 - 4 minute read

What Motivates You? - 6 Example Answers to this Interview Question

Woman asking man what motivates you in an interview

“What Motivates You?" is one of the most common interview questions you’ll encounter in any type of job interview, not just a teaching assistant interview.

Although you will most certainly also be asked “Why should we hire you?” it is important to understand that telling an institution “why” they should hire you truly lends itself more toward the cliché “dog and pony show.”

In other words, when you were a child, you perpetually asked various people the “Why?” of things. The answer to that question leaves more room for the respondent to be subjective and to, in essence, basically inflate the answer with a bunch of hyperbole. On the other hand, “what motivates you answers” require much more intrinsic contemplation for the interviewee.

With that in mind, here are 6 “what motivates you example answers”.

6 Example “What Motivates You Answers”

Remember to paraphrase and/or add your own personal touch so that it does not sound like you have rehearsed your answers.

Answer 1 - What motivates you?

I am motivated by my own vision(s) of the outcome of my objectives. After all, how can you ever have a ball game if you don’t have a goal? Whereas reaching a goal in sports generates points for your team, I see my goals of seeing students succeed and their ongoing progress motivates me.

Answer 2 - What motivates you?

Teaching involves not only instilling a love for learning in my students; it also involves leading my learners up the path to success. A huge motivator for me is seeing the “proverbial light bulb” light up when my students reach proficiency with a task.

Related: Why did you apply for this job?

Answer 3 - What motivates you?

I hope to word this clearly, but I truly do enjoy challenging myself and completing challenging tasks more than mundane tasks. I like to pick apart complex data and design hypotheses and conclusions about the best ways to utilize what I am working with.

In fact, I love shows like Flea Market Flip where vintage items are given new purposes and new lives. I suppose being able to use my creativity motivates me and the outcome is my reward. If the outcome is not what I had hoped for, then I have learned a lesson.

Answer 4 - What motivates you?

I am a lover of words and of vocabulary, which is only one of the reasons I am seeking this position. Hence, learning new words, the etymology of the words, and how I may use them is important to me.

Ironically, two of my favourite words are 1) catalyst, which is defined as a person or a thing that is basically a cause for the effect; and 2) impetus, which is basically a force that makes something happen. If you will pardon my quasi-play on words, words like “catalyst” and “impetus” are in themselves some examples of things that motivate me.

Related: Why do you want to work with children?

Answer 5 - What motivates you?

I think that humans in general are strongly motivated by their own unique interests. For example, I truly enjoy (fishing/dancing/cooking/writing – you fill in the blank).

Every time I (fish/dance/cook/write), I learn some new techniques or technical expertise that motivates me. I am motivated by drawing new motivation from my favourite things, I guess you can say!

Answer 6 - What motivates you?

As my career progresses, I admit that I am not totally selfless. I am also motivated by the potential for advancement and for reaching benchmarks in my career. Nevertheless, I realize my own progression means that I have more to offer those learners with whom I am working.


Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas that will be very useful in securing that coveted teaching assistant job. Remember that everyone is different and it is imperative to study these answers and tweak them until they are your own.

Do not attempt to memorize them word-for-word only to parrot them back to the interviewer because that will be blatantly obvious that they were “borrowed.”

Ultimately, what shines through the most in any job applicant is showing confidence that you can boldly handle the tasks that shall befall you, and transmitting that aura to the person giving the interview without seeming pompous or arrogant.