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Do You Work Well With Other People?

It’s hard to think of a job that doesn’t have some level of interaction with other people. Even if you’re a department of one, you’ll still need to share information with other employees of the company and potentially interact with clients or customers. So, it’s common for interviewers to ask, “Do you work well with other people?”

While it might sound like a straightforward question (with an answer that should obviously be ‘yes’), there’s actually more to it than simply nodding your head and moving on to the next question. Learn how to use this topic to not only inspire confidence in your ability to collaborate, but to emphasize your other relevant skills as well. 

Why do interviewers ask if you work well with others?

Being able to work well with others is an essential ingredient for success in most roles. It’s necessary for cooperating on team projects, building rapport with clients, communicating effectively with vendors, and much more. An interviewer wants to make sure there’s no doubt about your ability to get along with your colleagues for professional purposes. 

For jobs that are particularly heavy on person-to-person interactions, like human resources or communications, the ability to work well with others isn’t just a desirable quality but a core function of the job. It’s an interviewer’s goal to learn as much as they can about your aptitude for and experiences with team-based work.

What interviewers are looking for when asking how you work with others

Though it’s phrased as a yes-or-no question, interviewers are really probing for much more information–specifically, how you work with others. They want to be able to imagine what you’ll be like to have as a colleague and how you’ll fit in on their team. 

It’s up to you to paint this picture by sharing examples of your experience working with others successfully. Here are some ideas:

  • Completing a team assignment
  • Facilitating collaboration between coworkers
  • Mediating a dispute between teammates
  • Giving or receiving constructive feedback
  • Dealing with difficult customers
  • Communicating complex information

How to answer the interview question ‘Do you work well with others?’

Think of specific team-based skills

When explaining how you work well with others, zero in on the specific skills you use. These will mostly be soft skills like collaboration, communication, leadership, organization, and delegation. But, it could also include technical skills like experience with software that’s specifically used for teamwork.

Consider the requirements of the job

Next, decide which of the above skills are most important to this job. These are the ones you want to focus on in your answer. Rather than just saying ‘yes’ and stopping there, you’re now reinforcing your relevant skills for the role.

Give a specific example

Come up with a concrete anecdote from your past that demonstrates the skill or skills you selected. For example, if you picked leadership, you might talk about a time when you inspired a group of people with diverse backgrounds to work together toward a shared goal. You’re showing that you work well with others by using your leadership and motivational skills.

How not to answer

Say you enjoy working with people

One of the most common answers to this interview question is some form of, ‘yes, I love working with people!’ While this is a good thing, it doesn’t tell the hiring manager anything about your qualifications. You might enjoy playing basketball, but if you can’t make a three-pointer to save your life, a coach isn’t going to pick you for their team. 

The same holds true when hiring employees. It’s not enough for a candidate to enjoy or feel enthusiastic about the job; they also need to show that they’re qualified to perform it.

Sample answers to ‘Do you work well with other people?’

Example #1

“I’m a very strong communicator, which helps me work well with lots of different types of people. In my current job, there’s often a rift between account managers, who are speaking on behalf of their clients, and the design team, who are juggling all of the design projects for every client we have. As the production manager, it’s my job to mediate between them and make sure the needs of both sides are met. To do this, I communicate constantly. I check in via email daily and have in-person meetings with each account manager and our design manager once a week. Frequent communication keeps everyone on the same page and ensures we’re meeting our deadlines.”

Example #2

“I don’t mind having difficult conversations, which I’ve found is actually a very useful skill for working with other people. While no one enjoys receiving negative information, at the end of the day people value honesty over half-truths that are meant to soften bad news. I’ve developed a reputation for being a straight shooter, which means my colleagues trust me and know I’m someone they can rely on. It has helped me build very strong working relationships.”

By expanding your answer to focus on skills rather than your enjoyment of working with others, you’ll demonstrate to your interviewer that you’re not only a team player, but someone with the right competencies to perform well in the role.