Tell Me About the Best Idea That You Came Up With for Motivating Employees. How Did You Apply It – and How Successful Was It?


Many job interviewers and hiring managers use behavioral interview questions to learn more about your likely future behavior by looking at your past behavior. They want to know what kind of manager or team leader you are likely to be at their company- and one efficient way to do that is for them to investigate how you have managed in the past. They will probably ask questions that require you to describe situations relating to your ability to resolve conflicts and to motivate employees. In fact- one common behavioral question in job interviews is- “Tell me about the best idea that you came up with for motivating employees. How did you apply it – and how successful was it?” Other ways of asking the question include- “How have you successfully motivated employees?” and “What has been your most effective idea as far as employee motivation?”

Such behavioral questions are unlike fact-based questions that have to do with your educational credentials- certification- GPA and the like. With behavioral questions- you must think abstractly- cast your net wide- dig into your past and prepare with methods such as the STAR approach. Fortunately- with the STAR method as your ally- answering such questions becomes much more manageable.

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How to Answer the ‘Tell Me About the Best Idea That You Came Up With for Motivating Employees. How Did You Apply It – and How Successful Was It?’ Behavioral Interview Question

Explain How You Define ‘Best.’ The word “best” can mean many things. In this case- does “best” mean the idea that most increased employee productivity- employee happiness- team production or something else entirely? Be sure that your answer includes an explanation of why this idea is the “best.” In many cases- you boost your credibility by being able to use numbers to make your point. For example- you can say that an idea was your best because it increased employee satisfaction at least 10 percent more than your other ideas. You can still define “best” without using numbers- though- and sometimes you just will not have the numbers you need. Perhaps for you- “best” is an idea you came up with entirely on your own.

No matter what- do identify an idea as best. Avoid saying something like- “All of my ideas have been equally great.” Instead- you could say something such as- “Many of my ideas have been effective- but one in particular stands out.”

Follow the STAR. The STAR method is a stress-free way of helping you prepare for behavioral interview questions. The pattern is clear and easy to remember in the middle of interviews. First- you have “ST-” which means “situation” or “task.” Next- there is “A-” which means the action or actions you used to resolve a situation. Last but not least is “R-” which means the results you saw from your actions. Some questions naturally break themselves into STAR style- and fortunately- this is one. “ST” is the “best idea.” “A” is how you applied the idea. “R” is how successful the idea was. So- first- you discuss the best idea- including how you came up with it. Second- you talk about the methods you used to apply the idea (for example- trying it out first on only a few people)- and third- you discuss how you measured the idea’s success. In other words- give a definition of why this idea turned out to be the “best.”

Answer All Parts of the Question. This interview question is long! Whew. Even with it breaking naturally into STAR categorization for behavioral interview questions- it can be easy to forget one part- for example- the part on how you came up with the idea. If you are in the middle of an answer and realize you have forgotten to answer one part of the question- that is okay. Try to insert that explanation at the next natural section.

Sample ‘Tell Me About the Best Idea That You Came Up With for Motivating Employees. How Did You Apply It – and How Successful Was It?’ STAR Interview Answer

I had been following my company’s management guide for motivating employees- but my employees did not seem as invested as they could have been. So- I read the book- [Title]- and it emphasized the importance of trusting employees and giving them independence. I realized that my company’s guide was focused on long-term motivation but not on daily motivation. I began praising employees at least once a day and encouraged them to set their own hours as long as their work got done. This turned out to be my best idea for employee motivation because employee production increased by at least 25 percent during the following year. Employee retention increased as well. I took my information to company officials- and they added a section in the guidebook for daily motivation and how to let employees be independent. Since then- I’ve always been careful to stay away from micro-managing every aspect of my employees’ day.

It is all but certain that you will face behavioral interview questions as you interview for jobs. Preparing for them in advance with the STAR method will help you ace your interviews.