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Knowing What You Want in Your Next Job

Question - "When have you been most motivated?"

This question is more than an interview question; it is a question that you should be asking yourself before the interview. When have you been most satisfied in your work? When did you feel like you were making a difference or making a contribution? Basically, it's about knowing what you want.

A simple exercise that will help you answer this question will also help you look inside yourself to think about what you want "more of," and what you want "less of" in your next job. People usually perform at a higher level if they are satisfied with the work that they do -- and as a result are more motivated to give 100% - plus.

Exercise to Find the Answer

An exercise that will help you with the answer to this question as well as to assist you in looking inward to determine when you were working at your fullest potential is a simple one. Begin by making a list of the tasks at your last job -- the tasks that you were particularly proud of, or were energized by. In other words, "when your job turned you on." Think about the last time you were so involved in a project or task that you woke up thinking about how you could improve the situation. Write those experiences down and try to determine what the factors were that were satisfying for you.

Let's say you were a "Project Leader." The tasks list would read something like - "Led a team - Coordinated and monitored project progress - Assured the flow and completion of work on schedule - Monitored expenditures and budget."

What were the stimulating tasks of this job? Was it the leadership aspect? Or, was it the challenge of coordinating the details, and people? Was it completing the project on time or below budget? Were there customers involved (internal or external) - if so, is that what you found most challenging? What didn't you like, and hope that you will do less of in your next job?

After you have written this list for your current job, try doing the same thinking about previous jobs. If you recently graduated from college, use the classes that were most stimulating and interesting for you, or the projects you worked on with teams.

By making lists of motivating experiences from your last two or three jobs, you will hopefully begin to see patterns of projects and tasks that stand out. Analyze what you did before. Do you want more of this type of responsibility in your next job? The answers to these questions will give you the answer to the motivation question as well as possibilities for fulfillment in future jobs that have similar responsibilities.

Take this list of motivating experiences and script an answer to the question, "What motivates you?" Scripting answers prepares you and also makes you sound more confident.

The Perfect Answer

There is no such thing as the "perfect" answer to this question. Your answer will be individual and based on your own experience and analysis. It will reveal to the interviewer and to yourself what you thrive on in your work. Even if you are not asked this question, your pre-interview thinking, analysis, and scripting, will help you be more focused and in control of want you want in your next job. Knowing what you want will make you feel more confident about finding the right job.

By Carole Martin

Carole Martin is a celebrated author, trainer, and an interview coach. Her books, "Interview Fitness Training Workbook" and "Boost Your Interview IQ" (McGraw Hill) have sold thousands of copies world-wide. Receive Carole's FREE job interview tips by visiting her web site at:

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