7 May, 2020
By Mike Simpson
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” That’s what the late Henry Ford had to say about teamwork.
Powerful stuff, right?
Think about it; how many people are successful solely because of their own efforts? Essentially, no one.
Sure, we recognize the greats like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos because of their amazing ideas. But the Microsoft and Amazon wouldn’t be the giants they are without the employees moving those companies forward. It’s the result of teamwork.
Hiring managers understand that teamwork makes the working world go ‘round.
What does that mean for you?
That you’re almost guaranteed to have to answer teamwork interview questions when you’re trying to land a job; that’s what.
Do you want to make sure you’re ready for the inevitable? Great! Then let’s get going.
What Is Teamwork?
Before we dig into the teamwork interview questions, let’s pause for a moment to consider what teamwork even is. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, teamwork is:
“work done by several associates with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole.”
Phew, that’s a mouthful.
To put it in simpler terms, teamwork is when a group comes together to accomplish a task, and their main priority is the quality of the end result. It isn’t about shining as an individual. Instead, it’s about having the best outcome possible through the use of cumulative effort.
Alright, now you understand what teamwork is, but you’re probably wondering, “Why do hiring managers ask teamwork interview questions?” We get it. After all, if you’ve ever had a job, you’ve been part of a team. Heck, if you went to any K-12 school in the country, you probably got stuck dealing with at least a few group projects. Doesn’t that mean everyone has teamwork skills?
Well, you’re not entirely wrong. Everyone on the planet has likely been part of a team at some point. But that doesn’t mean they are all great at it.
For example, there are a few group clichés that most people encounter. Maybe you’ve met the slacker, the person who lets everyone else do all of the work, and they get credit just because they were there. Or the my-way-or-the-highway member who digs their heels in and won’t listen to anyone else’s ideas. Were they fun members of your team? Probably not.
Just because you have team-oriented experience doesn’t mean you’re great at teamwork. Since teamwork is fundamental in manufacturing, customer service, healthcare, and so many other industries, hiring managers favor candidates who shine in this area.
How to Answer Teamwork Interview Questions
Now that you have a solid idea of what teamwork is – and why hiring managers are going to grill you about it – let’s take the next step. If you’re going to shine during your meeting, you need to know how to answer teamwork interview questions effectively. That means it’s strategy time.
First, it’s important to understand that nearly all teamwork interview questions are behavioral interview questions. Hiring managers are going to ask you to “tell them about a time…” or “describe a time where…” That’s just what’s going to happen.
Why? Because the hiring manager wants to hear examples. They are looking for insights into your capabilities and how you put your skills to work.
Luckily, that means you can develop a single approach that can help you showcase yourself as a great candidate. First, it’s time for the STAR method. That lets you take your example and craft it into an engaging story. Your answer will have the flow of beautiful prose without getting long-winded.
That’s a win.
But, if you really want to impress, integrate the Tailoring Method, too. With that, you’ll increase the relevancy of your responses, ensuring you are speaking directly to the needs of the hiring manager. Double win!
Top 5 Teamwork Interview Questions
Alright, enough strategy talk. If you want to see how you can grab teamwork interview questions by the horn, nothing helps quite like some examples. With that in mind, here are the top five teamwork interview questions and answers for your consideration:
1. Describe a time when you worked well as part of a team.
With this question, the hiring manager wants to learn about how you define teamwork success. It also gives them insights into your capabilities, which helps them determine your chances of excelling in the role they need to fill.
“In my last position, four of my colleagues and I were tasked with a complex project. We had to work together, relying on each other’s strengths to complete the required work. To get started, we assessed the tasks we needed to accomplish as well as our skillsets. Then, we divvied up the workload accordingly, ensuring we could focus our energies on areas where we shined. This approach kept our efforts organized and ultimately led the project to success.”
2. Can you tell me about a time when a lack of teamwork hindered a project? How did you address the situation?
Hiring managers want to know you can overcome adversity. Whenever a group works together, there’s always a chance hiccups will occur. If you can showcase your aptitude, you position yourself as a stronger candidate.
“In a previous position, one of the team’s projects struggled. One of the team members wasn’t communicating about their progress and ended up missing a deadline, causing the rest of us to fall behind. Instead of assuming failure, the team reached out to our colleague and offered our assistance. Our goal was to discover any obstacles that were preventing the team member from succeeding, allowing us to remove barriers and make progress. Ultimately, our willingness to help encouraged our colleague to be more communicative and engaged. We were able to overcome the delay, and the project succeeded in the end.”
3. Do you prefer to work as part of a team or independently?
Admittedly, in the land of teamwork interview questions, this one’s a little roundabout. It isn’t directly asking about your teamwork capabilities. Instead, it focuses on your preferences.
But how you answer matters. If you focus a ton of your reply on your desire to work independently, the hiring manager may doubt your ability to excel in a team-oriented environment. That’s why you need to handle this question tactfully.
“I enjoy splitting my time between working as part of a team and working independently. In my past positions, for solving problems and handling large projects, being part of a group was usually beneficial. It spurred creativity and innovation while also ensuring access to a larger cumulative skillset. At times, I found that detail-oriented tasks with highly defined processes were better accomplished independently, as it made maintaining focus easier. Each approach has its place, so I embrace them both depending on the situation at hand.”
4. When you’re in a team situation, what role do you usually play?
Every team has a dynamic. Some members are leaders while others follow, and having both of those groups represented is usually critical for success. Here, the hiring manager is trying to figure out where you may fit, allowing them to determine whether you’re the right candidate for the existing dynamic.
“First and foremost, being a team player is always my priority. The success of the project needs to take precedence to ensure its success. At times, this means focusing on being a contributor and an asset to those who are coordinating the group’s efforts. However, I also embrace opportunities to lead. My organizational and motivational skills are well-developed, and they have helped me guide other important projects to success in my past roles. When given the opportunity, I am happy to take the reins.”
5. If a team member was disengaged, what would you do to motivate them?
This question lets the hiring manager find out more about your leadership capabilities. Plus, it gives them insights into whether you can promote self-sufficiency within the team, something that many hiring managers value.
“If I noticed that a teammate was becoming disengaged, my first step would be to reach out. During the conversation, I would take a moment to express appreciation for all they’ve done so far, as a bit of recognition sets the discussion off on a positive note and can boost the team member’s confidence. Next, I would ask if they were struggling with any next steps. This allows me to learn about potential obstacles they might not know how to deal with. After that, I would offer my support in overcoming challenges and making progress, working to restore their confidence and engagement moving forward.”
30 More Teamwork Interview Questions
- Do you enjoy working in a team environment?
- Tell me about your teamwork experience.
- Have you ever had trouble working with a coworker?
- Tell me about a time where you disagreed with your manager. How did you handle it?
- Describe a challenging workplace situation. How did you deal with it?
- What positive impact would you make on the team’s culture?
- If a team member started taking credit for your contributions, what would you do?
- What steps would you take if a colleague refused to do their fair share?
- How do you perform when working on team projects in a fast-paced environment?
- Tell me about a time when a team experience was frustrating?
- Can you tell me about a time when a team project you worked on failed? What happened, and what steps did you take to move forward?
- Tell me about a time when you stepped into a leadership role.
- When a project requires input from several levels in a company, how do you approach it?
- How would your former team members describe your project work?
- What approach do you take to communicate effectively with a diverse team?
- How would you rate your collaboration skills?
- How would your manager and colleagues describe your teamwork skills?
- If you and a team member disagree about how to proceed with a group project, how do you come to a decision?
- Describe your experience mediating disagreements.
- How would you feel about this position if it became more team-focused in the future? What if it became less team-oriented?
- Tell me about a time when your teamwork skills were put to the test.
- Which of your characteristics make you a better team member? Why?
- Do you have any weaknesses that hinder your teamwork capabilities?
- What makes a team successful?
- What motivational strategies do you use to promote team success?
- How do you make sure that team members get credit for their contributions?
- When it comes to group dynamics, what do you think hinders teamwork the most?
- Are there any personality types you can’t work with well?
- If you have personal and team-related responsibilities, which do you prioritize and why?
- Which of your traits make you hard to work with, and why?
Putting It All Together
As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work. Hiring managers prefer candidates that are exceptional at working as part of a group, usually regardless of the role. Luckily, you’re a great candidate and, by reviewing the information above, you can showcase your teamwork skills with ease. So, what are you waiting for? Start preparing today!
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