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Landing a job interview is an exciting moment, but can no doubt give you some anxiety in regards to passing a hiring manager’s vetting process. Thinking about what you should say in an interview can definitely be overwhelming at times. Maybe you’re not sure what they’ll ask you, or how you should answer their assessments, so you don’t know where to start.
Fortunately, hiring managers often ask similar questions, and in turn, look for similar answers. Therefore, you can prepare your answers before the interview even starts.
Often, one of the most common skills a potential employer is looking for is your ability to work as a team. Many positions require vast amounts of teamwork, and therefore, it’s important that you prove you’re a team player in your interview.
Luckily, this article will cover some of the most common teamwork related questions asked during interviews, and give you tips on how to answer those questions.
In a position that relies on the cooperation of multiple people, a hiring manager will want to know how well you work with others. As a result, it’s important that you highlight teamwork as one of your skills.
Of course, it’s vital that you strategize before going into the interview, so you aren’t caught off guard by a question and don’t have to think of examples off the top of your head.
Remember, teamwork is largely reliant on communication. With that in mind, think of ways you can speak positively on that. You can tell the hiring manager that you like teamwork because tasks are completed more efficiently, or because you believe the exchange of ideas between multiple people is valuable.
Though, for the most part, teamwork related questions are behavioral interview questions, in that they focus on how your past behavior will represent your future behavior. That being said, the hiring managers will likely ask you to “tell them about a time…” or “describe a time where…” and expect you to give examples that show your value from a past situation.
The hiring manager does this because they want to hear specific, personal examples from your previous work experience, education or other important areas of your life. They want to know how these past examples highlight your capability to work with others.
Given that, you’ll want to be prepared with a story or two about a time you performed exceptional teamwork. Maybe at your previous job you and your co-workers effectively split up your responsibilities and finished early. Maybe you played for a sports team and remember a time you worked well with your team. Or maybe you did a group project in college and your group received high marks.
Whatever example you remember, prepare the story before you go into the interview. Key points to remember are how your actions and the actions of your team led to positive results. Focus only on that and any other aspects of the story that highlight your teamwork. Doing so will allow you to discard any information that will cause you to ramble.
With these tips in mind, here are several examples of possible teamwork related interview questions, and good possible answers to these questions. However, even when utilizing samples, always remember to personalize your answers to fit your own experience.
Tell me about your experience working as a team.
Employer’s Intent: To learn about your teamwork skills through specific examples of times you worked as a team. Share at least one good example that shows how your past teamwork will reflect your current value as a team player.
At my previous job we always worked in teams of at least three. Our environment was incredibly fast paced, and we had many tasks, so it was vital that we split up the work and communicate effectively. At the start of a shift we would meet with the manager and discuss our tasks, and then my co-workers and I would communicate on how to accomplish these tasks. This experience allowed me to understand everyone’s individual strengths, and coordinate my efforts to support them.
How do you feel about working on a team and in a team oriented environment?
Employer’s Intent: To evaluate how well you can communicate and work well with others. Make sure you keep your answer positive, and mention some strong teamwork skills you have to offer your potential employer.
I prefer to work on a team, as I believe teamwork garners innovative and productive ideas. I’m also equally comfortable being a team member as I am guiding people in a leadership role. For example, when I was in college one of my groupmates fell ill while we were working on our final project. At the time I communicated effectively with our professor and utilized online resources to help our sick group member continue to participate, while also taking on workloads he couldn’t handle.
Do you prefer to work in a team or independently?
Employer’s Intent: To learn about your preferred method of working, and your ability to work without direct supervision. This question is a potential trap, as you don’t have to pick one or the other. Rather, explain how you can function well in a team, but also individually if need be.
Actually, I’m comfortable working independently and being a part of a team. At my last job I often worked with others, but I’ve also worked jobs where the responsibilities of the shift were on my shoulders. I believe that both working environments are important. For example, I like to take in other people’s ideas at the start of a project, but I am perfectly capable of completing my portion of the project on my own.
What role do you usually play in team situations?
Employer’s Intent: To gauge whether you are a natural leader, or an excellent follower. This question attempts to understand how you would fit into the department’s current team dynamics and to assess whether you are someone who can handle leadership responsibilities. Like the previous question, you should explain why you’re adept at both.
Though I’m happy to work collaboratively with others, I also excel at being able to take the lead and coordinate everyone’s efforts. My previous supervisor told me I have exceptional organization, scheduling and management skills, which is why she often called upon me to take the lead in important projects, such as the article my teammates and I completed last year.
If a team member seemed withdrawn from their work, what would you do to motivate them?
Employer’s Intent: To determine if you demonstrate the personal leadership qualities they’re seeking. Keep things positive, and avoid causing conflict with your unmotivated co-worker.
If I noticed that my teammate had withdrawn from their work, I would make sure to reach out to them. Once I got their attention, I would take a moment to express my appreciation for their work as a way to keep things positive and boost their confidence. Then, I would ask if they were struggling with their tasks or if there’s a way I can help. I’d hope that offering my support in overcoming any challenges would work to restore their confidence and engagement moving forward.
Have you ever found it difficult to work with a coworker or manager?
Employer’s Intent: To address your ability to work with others and accept supervision. Keep your answer positive and avoid specific name dropping. Do not complain about previous managers or team members.
Not really. Of course, there were times when a new team member struggled to adapt to our group culture, or when someone didn’t seem motivated to do their work. However, I found that talking to them privately and taking advantage of informal opportunities to connect them helped ease any tension.
Describe a situation where you used teamwork to overcome a challenge .
Employer’s Intent: To gauge how well you can utilize team dynamics in the workplace. Think of a time you needed others to help you complete a task, or achieve something.
One time my manager asked me to clean a spill caused by a machine that was tucked away in a corner. Unfortunately, I wasn’t small enough to reach the whole spill. However, my co-worker could, so we decided to work together. She mopped the mess while I cleaned the outside of the machine and handed her any tools she needed. Together we overcame the task much faster than if I’d tried to figure it out on my own.
What approach would you take to communicate productively with a diverse team?
Employer’s Intent: To assess how you handle different personalities. Keep your answer upbeat and make sure the hiring manager understands that you can work with diverse groups of people.
Diversity is one of my favorite aspects of teamwork. I believe that people with different backgrounds and personalities contribute more insights on how to work together and overcome challenges. That being said, I think communicating privately with people who are experiencing tension in the workplace is the most positive and productive way of resolving it.
Describe your experience resolving disagreements.
Employer’s Intent: To evaluate your ability to resolve the conflicts that arise when working with groups. When using an example for this question, make sure that the past example you use was not a disagreement that escalated, and focus on the resolution.
I believe disagreements are natural when working in a group, but should be approached calmly and productively. When I was working on a group project in college, one of my group mates wanted to go one way with the project, whereas I wanted to go another way. We talked in private about how we could compromise, and ended up agreeing on a third topic which peaked both our interests.
What would you contribute to our team culture?
Employer’s Intent: To assess if you’re a good choice for their company. Research the company ahead of time so that you can showcase yourself as someone who would fit seamlessly into their team culture.
I’m fortunate to have an adaptable lifestyle, where I can support my co-workers in many ways. My last manager encouraged us to take care of each other, which included the possibility of voluntary or mandated overtime. I often helped in this regard as I had the flexibility, and I also appreciated knowing my co-workers would have done the same for me.
When working with others, what do you think hinders teamwork the most?
Employer’s Intent: To see if you understand group dynamics, and how you would resolve issues that arise. Keep your answer positive and discuss how you’d resolve the hindrance.
I think teamwork only fails when there is a breakdown of communication. If a team member were to miscommunicate their progress on a project and that resulted in missing a deadline, that would be a major hindrance. However, I believe that maintaining productive communication is the key to avoiding these issues. The issue I just mentioned could be resolved by simply communicating directly with that team member so they understand their role and their deadlines.
What makes a team successful?
Employer’s Intent: To evaluate your understanding of teamwork and how you’d approach a team situation. Use key works like communication, organization, diversity, and conflict management.
I believe teamwork is most successful when people from diverse backgrounds communicate well. When communication is positive and productive, the team can manage conflicts with ease and keep group work organized. In addition, openness in communication also opens the door for new and innovative ideas.
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