Are you a team player?
Do you prefer to work on your own or with others?
Have you ever collaborated with 15 other people to build a pyramid with your own bodies?
These questions all sound slightly different, but they’re trying to get to the same bottom line:
The interviewer wants to know how well you work with other people.
Working on a team is essential to almost every job.
When you respond, you need to give an answer that goes deeper than just saying that you like working with other people.
Interviewers want to know how you’d interact with your coworkers and if you’d fit into the company culture. People usually say that they “like working with other people,” but don’t give any details to back up their response.
Even if you’re plagued with a hatred for the human race, it’s important to put on a happy face and make them really believe you love everyone.
Here are some tips to help you do just that.
How to Answer Questions About Working with Others
Even if your job doesn’t require a lot of communication, it’s still important to be able to engage with your coworkers in a friendly and professional manner. Employers don’t want to hire people who are hard to get along with. Unless you happen to be a Wrestlemania champion, no one likes conflict in the workplace.
What do you do that shows you’re a good people person? The interviewer wants to know what people skills you have and how you’ve used them in the past.
Think about what you’ve done to contribute to a team. Mention what skills, abilities, and personality traits you possess that make you a good team player.
Make a list. Write down a list of soft skills you have experience with, and how you’ve used these skills in the past.
Can you motivate people to improve their work performance? Are you able to mediate conflicts between coworkers or clients?
Can you lead group discussions in a way that makes everyone feel involved?
Tell the interviewer a story. Give an example of an experience that shows off your ability to work in a team.
Mention other skills that will show that the interviewer that you’re qualified and make sure that your story is relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Show off your credentials.When you tell the interviewer a story that shows off how well you work with others, try to include details that show off your specific credentials for the position.
Maybe your academic experiences were helpful in leading a team for a project in which you had expertise, or maybe you have certifications or work experience that were helpful in dealing with customer service.
Your goal when you answer this question is to help the interviewer see your value as an employee.
This isn’t a trick question, so there’s no need to sweat it, just be honest and give real examples.
Even if you have solid qualifications, employers could still screen you out for lacking people skills.
Mistakes to Avoid When Answering
Employers want to hire people who are friendly and can maintain a professional attitude in any type of social situation, but there are several ways your answer could go wrong.
Here are some steps you can take to avoid looking stupid:
Don’t say things that could come off as judgemental or critical. You can easily avoid this by staying away from using negative words, like “lazy” or “difficult” to describe people.
Instead, use words that describe the tone of the situation, like “challenge” or “problem” when describing a troublesome situation at work.
Don’t say you avoid conflict. Saying you avoid conflict will make the interviewer think that you can’t function in negative situations. If you’ve dealt with conflicts while working with other people, it’s okay to let the interviewer know.
Tell your story in a positive way that shows that you’re a team player and like working with other people. Make sure the story has a happy ending and that both sides came out on top.
Try not to exaggerate. Even though being a team player is great, be careful not to exaggerate your abilities to work in a group.
You don’t want your interviewer to think that you depend on working with others to get a project done
The ideal employee is flexible and adaptable — try to show the interviewer that you’re comfortable working both individually and in a group.
Sample Answers about Working Well with Others
The key to answering these kinds of questions successfully is to tell the interview a short story of time when you used the skills they’re looking for.
Be prepared to give detailed examples of how you’ve used your skills working with a team to complete a project. And, as always — remember to stay on topic.
Here’s an example of a bad answer:
Teamwork? Dude, teamwork is my middle name. I have so much teamwork experience, I love teams. I was on a football team in high school. I was a really good team player because I always passed the ball. Teamwork makes the dream work, dude.
Why It’s A Bad Answer
There are a lot of things that are wrong with this response. First of all, this answer has nothing to do with the job this person is interviewing for.
Even though they did demonstrate how they were a team player, their example has nothing to do with job-related strengths. But they did get one thing right — teamwork does, in fact, make the dream work.
Here’s what a more successful answer would sound like:
I’ve found that I really enjoy working in a team environment, and I get along well with many different personality types. At my previous job, I created a system to use during meetings that gave everyone a chance to speak and pitch their ideas. Everyone felt that their opinions were heard and productivity was increased by 20%.
Why It’s A Good Answer
This is a good answer because this person has provided a detailed story about how they’ve previously worked with others in a professional environment, while also describing how they were able to use their strengths to improve productivity as a team.
We can clearly understand that the dream was definitely working for this team.
End your answer on an enthusiastic note. You want them to see that you’re someone who gets along well with others and that you won’t cause conflict within their team. If the interviewer sees you as friendly and approachable, it will help them better understand that you work well alongside your coworkers.
Your answer to this question helps employers determine how you’ll fit into their company culture. Remember to use positive examples with details that showcase your other job-related skills.
Now that you’re ready, get out there and find your new team and show your interviewers you could be their next MVP — Most likely to work Very well with other People!