There are some interview questions that do not always seem directly related to the tasks you might take on in a new job because they are phrased like personal preference inventories. The thing to remember when getting interview questions such as “What two or three things are most important to you in your job?” is that when hiring managers ask about these personal motivations, they are assessing how you might respond to different management strategies. By learning what you value and what motivates you, they know whether or not you will fit in and feel motivated in your prospective employer’s corporate culture and in the role you are interviewing for.
This question is commonly phrased in a couple of ways, so you might hear a variation on it, but the goal remains the same, whether it is “What do you value most about your current job?” or “What are the two or three things about your job that really motivate you?” Understanding why they ask these questions and what your answers say to an interviewer is the key to crafting a really memorable, stand-out response.
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How to Answer the Question
Usually, it is a great idea to match your answers to an employer’s expectations of valuable things in the workplace and for this kind of question that means relating what you loved about your old job (or current job) to what you expect to find in the new one.
1. Map Your Response to the New Job
These answers do not need to be task-specific. They can be other rewarding aspects of the experience, such as the ability to work with people who are learning new things or the opportunity to organize and plan events that help project the right image about a company. The key is showing that you will be motivated in your new role.
2. Be Self-Oriented, Not Self-Centered
These might sound like the same things but there is a huge difference between them. Self-oriented people are conscientious about how their actions and interactions affect others but not overly so. They take care of themselves and choose jobs that satisfy their needs or goals.
Self-centered people are looking for what they get out of a situation and the rewards they see in a job tend to have less impact on their ability to do the job well, so even a good self-centered answer might not be a good answer overall, since it might not help the interviewer see your fit with the company.
3. Highlight How and Why
Remember, interview questions are all about how you will fit the needs of the company and how you work, so giving brief but insightful reasons for your choices is a great way to call attention to your process so that your interviewer has a better idea about how the things you value will be rewarded in your new position.
Answering this aspect of the question clearly can even make a difference when it comes to what level of responsibility you might be given or how quickly you might be tracked into promotion because it helps to show the ways that you self-motivate by finding rewarding moments in your work.
In my current job, the things I really value don’t have a lot to do with the main function of the job. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it, but what I really value is the way that it puts me in a position to support members of a team and work toward a goal together. I can do the work on my own when I need to but I’ve always found that it is easier to keep your eye on the goal and contribute well when you also feel like you are supported by the people around you, and I like being one of the people who can provide that support, too.
I value the same two things in every job, and I tend to look for opportunities that let me do more of them. Those two things are helping people understand new ideas and use them creatively, and seeing how multiple lines of creative thinking come together to make something new. That’s what attracted me to this position. It’s a chance to take a step forward by not only working on training a new team but on delivering a fully-finished project that innovates on many levels, from its organization to its implementation.
Concise answers with a couple of detailed points stand out more than longer ones that try to fit in too many examples, so remember to pick and choose just those couple examples that really help you demonstrate what you value so your interviewer picks up on it easily.
Similar Interview Questions
1. What is a good reason to leave a job?
- Professional reasons for leaving a job: Career growth, better job title, and higher compensation.
- Personal reasons for leaving a job: Retiring, pursuing education, family needs, or relocation.
2. What do you feel is the most important aspect of a job?
According to the 2017 Employee Job Satisfaction by Society of Human Resource Managers, or SHRM.org, most jobseekers find the following aspects of their jobs important:
- Respectful treatment towards all employees
- Trusts between employees and the leadership team
- Job security
- Growth Opportunities
- Secure office space
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