Career Advice

10 Surefire Ways to Answer Team Interview Questions

min read
Mikaela Thompson

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” (Henry Ford).

We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘Teamwork makes the dreamwork’, right?

Humans are, by nature, social animals. No one works in total isolation. Isn’t it a no-brainer then, that employers put an emphasis on teamwork? They know the success of their business relies on the efficacy of the team they have built. Any person, hoping to be employed, in any role at any level, needs to be able to collaborate productively with others. As such, irrespective of the job you’re applying for, teamwork questions are relevant, and you best be prepared to answer them well. Sound right so far?

Keep in mind teamwork looks different in every workplace. Don’t expect teamwork questions to look the same. Employers, usually through their hiring manager, want to know if you can get along and work productively with a range of people and whether your work style and experience will benefit their team. Presenting yourself as a ‘lone wolf’ or an ‘odd-man-out’ within the collegial group, is sure to be your undoing. Convinced much?

What are some tips to nail the teamwork questions?

1) Firstly, make sure you’ve got a handle on the reference to teamwork within a company e.g., you’ll be expected to come together to complete a task/ project. You’ll be responsible for a part of this that will ensure the success of the whole. The product/ outcome is what matters most, not you trying to outshine your team members or hogging the credit! It’s the cumulative effort of all involved that will ensure success. Get it?

2) Be positive and stress the positive outcomes of your given examples e.g., you enjoy working with others and can get along with anyone. Having said this, experienced candidates may find it worthwhile to provide specific examples of teams that failed, as well as ones which succeeded, to help employers to understand what type of team environment you expect and do well within.

3) Demonstrate active listening skills by being attentive to the hiring manager e.g., maintain eye contact, nod, smile, sit up straight, ask thoughtful follow-up questions. No sneaky texting, overconfident slouching or cutting off/ speaking over the interviewer! 

4) Show / highlight the qualities of a good team player, that you possess, to the interviewer, through specific examples from your previous experiences e.g., being personable, an effective communicator, effective at problem-solving and conflict-resolution, reliable, responsible, able to respect and support others, always ready to listen, help, share ideas and views, will devote time to developing relationships and emotional intelligence. Use the STAR method (situation, task, action and result) to keep you on track, concisely. Solid teamwork skills are perceived as adding-value to any company.

5) Learn about the value and drawbacks of teamwork to help you answer questions e.g., benefits: helps the team to improve their creativity and innovation; improves the quality of decision-making; there’s fewer opportunities for mistakes; members can support each other; reduces stress by sharing tasks among others. Drawbacks: it can take a lot of time to solve a specific issue and make a final decision; there’s pressure to maintain the performance standard; conflicts within the team can destroy morale; teamwork may lead to social loafing.

6) Integrate through tailoring, your responses to those teamwork attributes indicated in the job description of this company and role. Use your past experiences, whether internships, jobs, or volunteer work, to showcase your teamwork skills and appropriate personality. Irrelevant examples won’t do much for you. 

7) As a fresh grad, learn how you work in a group setting. You’ve more than likely done group presentations at uni and various co-operative learning tasks in primary and high school to draw upon. Prepare answers to questions about the roles you tend to take in teamwork e.g., are you a leader, mediator or follower? Are you an ideas person, technician or practitioner? Practice your answers in mock interviews with friends or a family member. Get them to be honest with their feedback, no sugar-coating it, so you can tweak answers as necessary e.g., if you haven’t convinced them, you’re definitely not going to pull the wool over the eyes of an experienced, hawk-eyed hiring manager. They’ll be quick to sniff out a slacker or a do-it-my-way-or-the-highway type, neither of which will have any longevity in modern businesses or organizations, especially in, manufacturing, customer services, healthcare, education, hospitality and the list goes on. 

8) Make no mistake you will be grilled! Teamwork questions are behavioural and commonly identified by openers, such as, “Tell me about a time when…”, “Describe a time where…’ These should alert you to give specific relevant examples that provide insight as to your capabilities and how you apply these. As already mentioned, use the STAR method to do this effectively and efficiently. They don’t want a rambling, never-ending-story but rather an engaging, well-crafted one. 

9) Many relevant websites offer examples of teamwork questions and answers, whether run of the mill or crazy tough ones. So make sure to access, adapt and practice them!

10) Don’t forget to practice, not only teamwork questions/answers but also other more general questions/answers. Both types will pop up in job interviews and are not mutually exclusive.

Now, you’re ready to nail those pesky teamwork questions and more

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