Job interviews can often feel like navigating a minefield of questions, each one requiring you to think on your feet and present yourself in the best light possible. Many interviewees often face the common query, “Describe how you have worked with another person to achieve a goal.” While it might seem straightforward, this question has more depth than meets the eye.
We’ll explore why interviewers ask this question, what they are looking for, and how you can prepare an impactful answer.
Why do interviewers ask about working with another person to achieve a goal?
Understanding the motivation behind a question is the first step in crafting a stellar response. When interviewers inquire about your collaborative experiences, they’re not just curious about a particular project or accomplishment. They’re looking to gain insight into your interpersonal skills, ability to merge with a team, and approach to problem-solving within a group setting. In today’s collaborative work environment, teamwork is paramount. Whether in an office, a remote location, or even on a global scale, employees often need to work cohesively with others to achieve the organization’s objectives.
What are interviewers looking for when asked about working with another person to achieve a goal?
While your answer will ideally highlight a successful outcome, interviewers are analyzing more than just the result:
- Adaptability: How did you handle changes or unexpected challenges? Are you flexible and adaptable, ensuring the project stays on course?
- Communication: Did you keep lines of communication open? How did you handle disagreements or differences in opinion?
- Contribution: What was your role in the collaboration? How did you make sure you added value to the team and the project?
How to answer the interview question “Describe how you have worked with another person to achieve a goal”
To provide a well-rounded and impactful answer, consider the following strategies:
Use the STAR method
- Situation: Start by describing the context. What was the project or goal? Why was collaboration necessary?
- Task: Detail the specific responsibilities you and your coworker had.
- Action: Describe the steps you both took, emphasizing your role. This includes communication, conflict resolution, and any unique contributions you made.
- Result: Conclude with the outcome. Was the goal achieved? What did you learn from the experience?
Highlight interpersonal skills
Instead of focusing solely on the task, emphasize the interpersonal skills you employed. Did you have to mediate a disagreement? Did you facilitate open communication to verify everyone was on the same page? Demonstrating these skills shows you’re more than just task-oriented but also people-oriented. Highlighting interpersonal skills can also provide interviewers a glimpse into how you build and nurture professional relationships. It underscores your ability to foster a positive work environment, ensuring the success of a project but also the well-being and cohesion of the team.
It’s essential to be truthful. Don’t embellish your story to make it sound more impressive. Interviewers value authenticity and can often detect when someone is stretching the truth. Speak about a genuine experience, what you learned from it, and how it has shaped your approach to collaboration. Additionally, authenticity fosters trust and credibility, laying the foundation for a positive working relationship with potential employers.
How not to answer questions about working with a coworker to reach a goal
Just as there are effective strategies to tackle this question, there are also pitfalls and approaches you should avoid. These missteps can paint you in an unflattering light or signal to the interviewer that you might not be the best candidate for a team-oriented environment.
- Avoid blaming or speaking negatively about others: It might be tempting to detail a situation where a coworker was the primary cause of issues or challenges. However, focusing on or blaming their shortcomings can be unprofessional and petty.
- Don’t be vague or generalize: Saying things like “I always work well with others” or “I’ve never had a problem collaborating” lacks depth and specificity. Interviewers are looking for concrete examples that showcase your experience and skills.
- Refrain from dominating the story: Be careful not to portray it as though you single-handedly drove the project to success. This can come off as arrogant and may signal to the interviewer that you don’t value the contributions of others.
Sample answers: “Describe how you have worked with another person to achieve a goal”
In today’s dynamic work environment, collaborating effectively is more crucial than ever. Describing your team experiences in job interviews can set you apart from the competition and demonstrate your value as a team player. Remember, it’s not just about showcasing a successful outcome but emphasizing the journey, skills, and relationships that got you there.
Looking for position-specific interview questions and answers?
Enter any job title for a list of interview questions you can expect to be asked, plus detailed answers and a comprehensive response strategy.