From completing group projects in grade school to helping your friend move out of their apartment, teamwork is prevalent in everyday life. It’s also a part of most jobs, but some professions rely on teamwork more heavily than others. In those fields, you’re likely to be asked about working on a team as part of the interview process.
Here are some common interview questions about teamwork:
- What are your thoughts about working on a team?
- When working on a team, what role do you take?
- Tell me about a time you had to work as a team to accomplish a goal.
Learn how to field questions about teamwork and exactly what interviewers are looking for when choosing the best candidate to hire.
Why do managers ask this question?
First and foremost, interviewers want to find out if you work well on a team. Some people are more independent by nature, while others do their best work in a collaborative setting. How much teamwork matters will depend on the job you’re interviewing for. If they’re asking about it in the interview, chances are it’s important.
For a clue about what interviewers are looking for, consider how the question is phrased. “How do you feel about working in a team environment?” is probably more indicative of a strong teamwork culture than “do you prefer working independently or as part of a team?” which they may be asking simply to learn about your preferences.
Interviewers also want to find out what role you play in a team environment. A well-functioning team needs leaders, followers, idea people, executors, organizers, and mediators. These are just a few of the roles you might describe, playing to your strengths and the requirements listed in the job description.
What interviewers are looking for in an answer
When asking about teamwork, hiring managers usually want to hear a candidate speak positively about working on a team. Unless the job description explicitly states that they need an independent worker, they’re probably bringing up teamwork because it’s a necessary component of the role.
An interviewer wants to see if you’re able to communicate clearly and get along with others when working toward a shared task. They want to feel confident that you’ll be able to share duties with your colleagues and perform well within a team dynamic.
They also want to find out where you might fit in on their team. If they already have several “leader” types, they might be searching for candidates who are stronger followers. This is why it’s important to be honest in your answer about what role you play.
How to answer the interview question “How do you work as part of a team?”
Describe how you contribute
If you’re a big organizer, describe how you’re the go-to person on the team for keeping track of progress and setting deadlines. If you’re great at conflict resolution, share how you act as a mediator between people with opposing ideas. Try to incorporate keywords from the job description as well as any technical skills that are essential to the role.
Share a success story
Before your interview, brainstorm an anecdote that’s relevant for a variety of possible teamwork questions. A situation where you worked on a team project can address a number of queries, like “tell me about a time you had to work together to solve a problem” (name the problem, explain how you arrived at a solution) or “tell me about a time you struggled to work with other team members” (think of a snag you hit during your teamwork and explain how you resolved it). The ending to your story should be a positive one where the team comes out on top.
How not to answer questions about teamwork
Saying you dislike teamwork
This will likely give the interviewer serious concerns about your strength as a candidate. If you truly prefer to work solo, it may be a good idea to reconsider the type of job you’re applying for.
Revealing “negative” qualities
Avoid mentioning qualities that could be perceived as a detriment to teamwork, like being shy in group settings or struggling to delegate tasks.
As you practice your response for interview questions about teamwork, you should also prepare for possible curve balls like being asked to participate in a teamwork simulation or being introduced around to members of their team for a meet and greet.