In a job interview, employers not only want to know you can do the job; They want to know about your life and your interests.
So they ask interview questions like, “Who inspires you in your life?” Or “Who is your biggest inspiration?”
And if you have trouble answering or giving a response that they do not like, it may cost you at work.
Read on for tips on how to answer, “Who inspires you?” With sample responses, mistakes to avoid and more.
How to answer “Who inspires you?” Interview question
First of all, this is a wonderfully open interview question.
And even though there are no wrong answers … some answers are better than others.
You can answer that mom or dad is your biggest inspiration. And that would be a fine answer.
But I recommend you Look beyond a personal or family connection when answering, and think about the specific role you are being interviewed for.
Because the next question to be asked, assuming you do not expand on it in the first place, is “why?”
What did your mother, father, college teacher or other personal contact do that was so inspiring? Was this their work ethic? Leadership skills?
Again, any of the correct answers, but your answer will stand out and resonate more with the interviewer if you go into details and ideally, match your answer to the features required in the job you are discussing.
Here is a good example of how to answer the interview question by matching your inspiration to the job.
Imagine that you are looking for a career in a non-profit organization that aims to provide assistance to the homeless, the sick and the poor.
A claim to Mother Theresa as your greatest inspiration would be a logical answer to a question.
She devoted most of her life to charity work, helping the homeless, the sick and the poor.
Alternatively, if you were interviewed for a leadership role, you could use someone past or present who has shown exemplary leadership as your inspiration.
Just be sure to pick someone you really admire because there is a good chance your body language will betray you if you lie.
And yes, do not be surprised if the recruiter or manager has some skill in reading body language.
The point is that your answer not only provides some insight into the person you aspire to be, but also emphasizes the type of behavior patterns and attitudes you admire and respect.
And that will translate to the kind of person you will be at work.
Here’s another example of thinking about the role when it came to “Who inspired you in your life?”
Imagine you are interviewing for an accounting position. The soft skills you will need are:
- Strong communication skills, written and oral
- critical thinking
- Time managment
You could use some famous accountants as your answer, maybe someone like William Deloitte or William Cooper, the founders of Deloitte & Touche and Price Waterhouse Coopers respectively.
Or you can think outside the box and use as your inspiration someone who was known or known for his critical thinking or problem-solving skills.
Of course, if you go this route, you need to clearly communicate your logic to your interviewer.
If you were to throw Albert Einstein as your inspiration, it might not make sense to the person or people interviewing you because he is a well-known physicist. But dig a little deeper and he is also famous for being problem solver and critical thinker, so you can talk about how he has inspired you in these areas.
Throw in such an answer and believe me, you will get some serious credibility points.
As you can see, there is no single “correct” answer to this interview question. The key is to be able to explain why you choose the person and connect the points between his story and the goals of your career and life.
Who inspires you? Sample answers
Next, let’s look at word of mouth that evokes in you examples through people, past or present, who have led lives that fit in with your career path and interests.
Example # 1 Who inspires you: Mother Theresa
The one who inspired me in my personal life and work is Mother Theresa. She has dedicated her life to helping those who are less fortunate, and I want to get to a similar story when I look back on my life. I also believe that her desire to help others has made her a great leader, even though few would think so. One of my favorite quotes of hers is, “Do not go where the road may lead. Go where there is no path and leave a path.”
An answer to this example would be great if you were interviewed for a job at a charity or other socially aware organization.
It is also a good answer to any role using soft skills like leadership, empathy, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills and more.
No matter what your religious beliefs are (and I would advise you not to address them in the job interview), using this example answer with the above reasons will work in your favor and help you get any leadership role in an organization that values helping others.
Example No. 2 Who inspires you: Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein has inspired me in my career. His theories and vision have enabled some of the technology we take for granted today, such as GPS, lasers, atomic clocks and much more. He also struggled and had to overcome self-doubts, like so many people. The fact that even he faced self-doubt inspires and reminds me to be persistent and believe in myself.
Albert Einstein would be a great choice for the interview question “Who inspires you” for anyone looking for a role in a society that requires creativity. for example:
- Any kind of artist
- Writers / Writers
- Art teachers in college, drama or music
- Editors, print or video
- Fashion Designer
- Industrial Designer
- Landscape Architects
Example # 3 Who Inspires You: Michael Jordan
I was inspired by Michael Jordan. He was talented, but more importantly, he was willing to overcome the competition and focus intensely on his goals. He was incessant and kept pushing himself to get better. One great tip he shared was to never forget the basics. “Once you get away from the basics, whether it’s proper technique, work ethic or mental preparation, the bottom can fall from your game, from your studies, from your work, from everything you do.”
This is an interview answer that you can use for almost any type of job.
In the corporate world, there are critical foundations for your success. Each job role will have its own foundations, but Jordan’s advice is that whatever they are, keep them.
Nor did he let failure stop him, which can also be said to have been inspiring to you. Ironically, when he was in high school, he was disqualified from the university basketball team because he was not tall enough or good enough.
what did he do? Well, eventually he grew up but more importantly, he practiced until he was good enough.
All of the above factors make Michael Jordan a great choice for someone you find inspiring.
Note that you can also pick a newer athlete like Kobe Bryant if you prefer (who happened to have similar thinking, competitiveness, and mental toughness to Michael Jordan).
Example # 4 Who Inspires You: William Deloitte
Ever since I became an accountant, I have been inspired by William Deloitte, one of the fathers of accounting. I am inspired by his innovation, leadership and interpersonal skills. These qualities enabled him to form strong bonds and achieve a huge amount in his career. He was ambitious and also high-minded, which are values that are important to me. He started his career at the age of 15 and started his own practice at the age of 25. He went on to establish one of the largest accounting firms in the world, so his story is a reminder to stay ambitious and motivated in life.
This is a good answer to “Who inspires you?” If interviewed for any position in accounting or bookkeeping.
Remember, it’s always a good idea to consider the work you are discussing when answering this interview question.
Example # 5 Who Inspires You: Your Father
My dad is someone who has inspired me throughout my life and is the reason I got into the marketing industry. When he was 19, he set up a small local marketing company and grew it to the level of 200 customers across the country. He recognized that building strong relationships is just as important as being talented at your job, and he has excelled at both through consistent effort. He was also inspired because no one told him to go the marketing route, and he did not study marketing in school. Instead, he read local newspapers, saw opportunities to help businesses market themselves better in the local community, and went door-to-door to reach his first customers.
As you can see, it is okay to say that a personal relationship or family member has inspired you.
But if you choose friends, parents or other relatives / personal relationships, you need to be willing to show something extraordinary that they did and exactly how it was an inspiration in your life and career. Otherwise, choose someone else as your inspiration character.
Now you have 5 examples of the question, “Who inspires you?”
I have mentioned several times that there are no wrong answers to this interview question. But there are some mistakes you should avoid when giving your interview answer …
Mistakes to avoid the answers “Who inspires you?”
Mistake # 1 to Avoid When Saying Who Inspires You in an Interview:
If there is one thing we have learned in recent years, it is that there are some issues and people that are completely polarized. Many people are one hundred percent for or against something or someone.
Why does it matter?
Because you have no idea where the person interviewing you is on the subject. And if you sound loud or dislike unlike theirs, it can count for you.
So it is better to stay away from any person or anything controversial or polarized, like most political figures or issues.
Other mistakes to avoid:
- If you do choose a famous person, make sure he really is someone you admire and respect. Otherwise you will not sound convincing.
- Do not give an answer that is more than 60-90 seconds. Be selective in sharing why someone inspired you and just pick a few key points to share. There is no need to share every detail you have read and researched about this person, and if the interviewer wants to hear more, he or she will ask.
- Never answer without having a ready reason. If you choose your mom, dad, friend or anyone related to you, make sure you have a suitable reason.
8 types of people who can be said to have inspired you
To help you gather more ideas for potential answers to “Who inspired you in your life?” Here are some general types of people you can mention as your inspiration.
- Historical figures
- Mentors / Coaches
- Notable people in your community
- Parents, family and friends
If you follow the steps and sample answers above, you will be ready to answer “Who inspires you?” In your next interview.
If you can not think of someone for his name and the examples above do not work for you, do not panic.
Google is your friend for showing more answers and people you find inspiring.
If you are not sure which soft skills and attributes are most important for the job for which your interview is intended, you can search for something like “soft skills required for …” and simply fill in the field or position you hope to be hired for.
Also, review the job description before your interview. Notice which skills and attributes are first and / or most often mentioned.
Then, you can try to find someone motivated who matches the soft skills required for the job. Try something like searching for “examples of people with good work ethic”.
This preparation will help you amaze the interviewer so you can get the job.
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