Best Answers to “What Makes You Happy at Work?”

Looking for the best answer to “what makes you happy at work?”

It’s a common interview question interviewers use to get some insights into what will make an interviewee happy and motivate them to work harder.

How you answer this question is likely to have an impact on whether or not you get the job.

So, you want to be honest, of course, but you also want to make an impression with your answer.

I’ve been on both sides; I’ve asked this question of many people (and had some wild answers), and I’ve also had to answer it myself.

I have a great handle on what interviewers are looking for when they ask someone what makes them happy at work, so I know I can help you. 

In this article, I’m going to cover the things people want that make them happy at work, and how you can answer this question in an engaging and genuine way.

What Makes Employees Happy at Work?

First, let’s look at the things that typically make employees happy at work. You can pick up on any of these things that are important to you when answering the question yourself:

Having a Great Boss

It’s often said that having a great boss is more important than having your perfect job, and this is 100% true.

Without having a good boss, even the best job in the world can become unbearable.

So, what exactly makes a great boss? The answer to this is a little subjective, but there are some core competencies that universally makes someone a good boss, these are;

  • The ability to communicate clearly and effectively
  • Sets realistic and challenging performance expectations
  • Makes work fun while keeping it professional
  • Can always be relied on for support and help
  • Recognizes and rewards good results
  • Always finds a way to brings the best out of everyone

How many of you reading this can say you’ve had a boss that checks all of these boxes?

This is a good way to flatter the person interviewing you if they’re going to be your boss. You can suggest that you would love to work with them based on what (little) you know about them.

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Having a Competitive Salary

Let’s be honest here, almost all of us go to work to earn money and we want to be paid as much as we possibly can.

Discussing this in an interview isn’t always easy. You want to demonstrate that you know your worth, but you also don’t want to price yourself out of a role if you really want it.

As long as you make it clear to the interviewers that you are happy with the salary they’re offering, you can turn this into a positive and say that it will be one of the factors motivating you to perform at your best.

Being Given Autonomy

Have been numerous surveys and studies into how happiness in the workplace is related to the employee having autonomy and not being micromanaged.

Each employee and role requires a different type and style of management, and this is where having a great boss really comes into effect.

But there is no question that being given autonomy improves happiness, productivity, makes employees feel more valued, promotes better teamwork, and more.

On the flipside, micromanaging employees undermines their confidence, makes them feel inadequate, and can have a huge negative impact on productivity and morale.

Let your interviewers know that you work best when given autonomy and have no problems asking for help when needed and meeting your targets.

Seeing a Path for Progression

Being able to see a clear path for progression is a huge motivator. It’s one of the driving forces behind fostering a culture of knowledge sharing and helps bring out the best in individuals.

Without having long-term career progression goals, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and stop developing new skills.

It’s not just about the prestige of a promotion or a pay rise, you want to be challenged to push yourself and have goals to work towards.

You can say in an interview that learning new skills and knowing there is the possibility for progression through the company will make you happy.

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Being Challenged – And Supported

Being challenged in your role can be both scary and stressful, and incredibly motivating and rewarding.

Managers and leaders want to hear that their staff want to be challenged.

This shows them that you are willing to push yourself and step out of your comfort zone for the good of the company and your own personal growth.

You should want to be challenged, too. Otherwise, you might find yourself getting bored, demotivated, and considering finding a challenge outside of the company.

It’s fine to say in an interview being challenged makes you happy and motivates you. Tell them you thrive when your back is against the wall and you’re not afraid to fail if you know you’re giving 100%.

Great Coworkers

Having great coworkers is essential to the success of every individual in an organization as well as the organization as a whole.

Trust, support, communication, and mutual respect among coworkers leads to a more efficient and productive workplace. It’s really as clear as that.

Creating and fostering a productive culture within an organization can only be done when the majority of coworkers are on the same page.

By communicating to an interviewer that you understand the importance of good, cohesive teamwork, you’re effectively telling them that you’re going to be a great coworker yourself.

Related Questions

Why Are You Asked What Makes You Happy in a Work Interview?

Employers want their employees to be happy. Happy employees are way more motivated, and motivated employees get more work done and represent a business better.

Motivating employees is a constant challenge that leaders face. Depending on which stats you believe, it’s estimated that anywhere from 60-85% of people are not happy or satisfied at work.

The fact that you’re being asked this question in an interview is a great sign. This company understands these challenges and wants to do something about it.

Why Is It Important to Be Happy at Work?

First and foremost, it’s important that you’re happy at work for the sake of your mental health.

People who are unhappy at work are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues.

The knock-on effect of this is that you will be unmotivated and unhappy – and this will spill over into your personal life.

Therefore, you’re going to lack the drive to progress your career and improve your situation. You will be stuck in this rut of being unhappy, and your life will spiral further into despair.

What Can You Do to Be Happier at Work?

This is a tough question as everyone deals with being unhappy at work differently. If you’re unhappy, I urge you to read this post detailing several things you should do to be happier at work.

The important thing is that you make some serious changes sooner rather than later.

The longer you try to put up with being unhappy at work without improving your situation, the harder it is to make those changes and get out of that rut.


Image credits – Photo by Van Tay Media on Unsplash

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