While most of us are familiar with the classic job interview format, not all interviews are designed to screen candidates. Employers may also use interviews to review an employee’s performance or encourage improvement.
Motivational interviewing is a technique taken from therapy that encourages positive change through empathy and open-ended questioning. Although this format isn’t as common in the workplace as others, many employers have realized the benefits of this method and are using it to improve their workforces.
If you are expecting a motivational interview, there’s no need to stress. The goal of the process is to make you feel supported and energized so that you can go on to do great things. In this blog, we’ll help you prepare by covering the following topics:
What is motivational interviewing?
How to approach a motivational interview
16 common motivational interviewing questions with sample answers
What is motivational interviewing?
As we mentioned above, motivational interviewing comes from therapeutic techniques. The goal of this method is to encourage change by developing motivation. Interviewers use open-ended questions to encourage greater reflection in the interviewee. Ideally, the interviewer helps the candidate to identify solutions to their challenges on their own without suggesting them directly. The main benefits of this method are greater autonomy, a desire for change, and a feeling of support and encouragement.
Motivational interviewers often follow the OARS technique to guide their questioning. Before you go to your interview, it might be helpful to review this acronym and what it means:
Open questions. Interviewers use open-ended questions that allow interviewees to tell their own stories instead of giving a yes or no response.
Affirmations. Interviewers use affirmation to build confidence in the interviewee and to encourage positive change.
Reflective listening. This means that the interviewer listens actively and tries to overcome any misunderstandings.
Summaries. Motivational interviewers regularly summarize what the interviewee has said to keep the conversation on track and reinforce their ideas.
How do you approach a motivational interview?
Motivational interviews are much different than traditional interviews and require a unique approach. When preparing for this type of interview, it’s important to prioritize openness rather than memorizing a list of answers. This allows you to discover challenges and motivations you might not be aware of.
Firstly, try to relax and remember that the interviewer wants to create an atmosphere of support and encouragement. This realization can lead to greater openness and make the interview beneficial for everyone. Next, remember to be honest about the challenges that you face in the workplace, even if they’re challenging to talk about. Without honesty, it’s very challenging to find motivation and solutions.
Finally, spend some time thinking about your professional life before you meet with the interviewer. While you don’t need scripted answers, this can help you focus on the challenges you face and begin developing solutions.
16 Motivational interview questions and answers
Although each interview is different, many interviewers will ask similar questions when conducting motivational interviews. Here are some common motivational questions and some example answers to help you prepare for your upcoming interviews:
1. What are your professional goals and how have they changed?
“When I started this job, my primary goal was to enhance my resume and prepare for leadership positions with other companies in the industry. Over the past two years, my personal life has become more important and I now value stability and work-life balance more than professional advancement.”
2. If you could change one thing about this job, what would it be?
“I have had a great experience working here, and I really value my coworkers. If I could change one thing, it would probably be office communication. I think it would be helpful to have a central communication channel to help track projects and assign duties. This could increase accountability and help me understand my responsibilities better.”
3. Where do you find the motivation to excel at work?
“My family is a central part of my life and is one of the biggest motivations for my career. This job provides me with excellent compensation and benefits, allowing me to give my family the life that they want. When I excel in the office and complete my tasks thoroughly, I also have the opportunity to spend more time at home.”
4. Describe your relationship with your colleagues.
“My colleagues are the best part of my job and make it easy to come to work every day. When I first arrived, they made me feel completely at home and did everything they could to help me learn the ropes. Everyone in the office has a real spirit of collaboration and a dedication to the company mission that’s contagious.”
5. Describe a time when you made a big change in your life and how you accomplished it.
“One of the biggest changes in my life was my move from Seattle to Denver. I had a good job that I loved but my family was in need of a change. The first step I took was to inform my boss of my plans. She helped me relocate by contacting the company’s Denver branch and providing a fantastic recommendation. This made the moving process much easier and ensured that I had a seamless transition into my new job.”
6. What do you enjoy about your work?
“The best part of my job is interacting with customers on a daily basis. I’ve always been very social and I love having the opportunity to meet new people and build strong professional relationships. I think our company offers fantastic solutions, which makes it easy for me to bring value to my clients.”
7. What initially attracted you to this job?
“I initially entered the medical field because it offered excellent pay and the opportunity to make a difference in my community. Over the past two years, the ability to help patients live better lives has become the most important part of my job.”
8. What is the most important thing you look for in a job?
“When looking for a new job, I primarily look for two things: a good work-life balance and a mission that I believe in. If I have time for family and friends and get the chance to make a difference, going to work every day is very easy.”
9. What challenges are you currently facing in this role?
“Although I value my job, I’m currently suffering serious burnout. When my job went remote, I was excited to have a more flexible schedule and more time at home. After a few months, it’s become more difficult to separate work from my personal life, which can be exhausting.”
10. Describe your ideal work environment. How does your current environment match that?
“My ideal work environment includes plenty of flexibility and an emphasis on output over work hours. While our hours have become more flexible, I think that there’s still an overemphasis on strict schedules rather than productivity.”
11. What steps have you taken to improve your work experience?
“Over the past year, I decided to invest more in my education. The main goal of this was to increase my promotion opportunities and eligibility for new roles. I completed an online coding course and also attended several leadership and management seminars.”
12. How would you describe your current work trajectory?
“While I started this job with a lot of enthusiasm, I’ve recently experienced some burnout and challenges in my personal life. This has made me less enthusiastic and I think I’ve focused on only doing the minimum at work. I want to regain the excitement I originally had and focus on taking the next step in my career.”
13. What is the next step you want to take?
“I recently saw that the company is hiring project managers. I think that a position in management would be a great next step and would allow me to use my talents more fully.”
14. How can I help you achieve your goals?
“I would love to get regular feedback on my performance from you or another one of my supervisors. Your experience and mentoring could help me navigate daily challenges and improve my overall productivity and satisfaction.”
15. Describe your greatest strength as an employee.
“I think that my greatest strength as an employee is my interpersonal skills. They allow me to make friends wherever I go, and I always have colleagues who are happy to offer assistance and advice.”
16. What do you need to overcome to reach your goals?
“My main fault right now is my ability to manage time. I often find myself spending too much of my day procrastinating, which prevents me from pursuing additional training and mentoring. It also causes burnout and makes me less enthusiastic about my work.”
Motivational interviewing is an interview format based on therapeutic techniques.
The goal of motivational interviews is to help the interviewee discover their own motivations for change.
Motivational interviewers often use the OARS technique, which stands for Open questions, Affirmation, Reflective listening, and Summary Reflections.
When preparing for a motivational interview, try to foster an attitude of openness and honesty rather than practicing specific answers.