Companies often ask their employees to work in a team environment. The interview question, “How do you feel about working in a team environment?” is now a common interview question, and you should expect it when you go for a job interview.
What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know
Employers, regardless of industry, need workers who are capable of working successfully as part of a team. During interviews, they will try to determine whether you can work effectively and collaboratively with others. Therefore, expect to hear a question like, “How do you feel about working in a team environment?”
Along with the typical job interview questions, your interviewer may ask about your past work experiences, with similar questions such as, “Tell us about a time you worked successfully with a team in a team environment.”
To answer these questions well, you’ll need to give specific examples of how you've worked with others in the past and achieved successful results.
Read below for tips on how to answer questions about working on a team, as well as sample answers.
How to Answer the Interview Question “How Do You Feel About Working in a Team Environment?”
No matter how the question is phrased, you want to use examples from your past to show that you work well in a team environment. Questions that focus on examples from your past are called behavioral interview questions.
Behavioral interview questions are those in which interviewers are looking for a concrete example of your past work experiences. Examples of behavioral interview questions include, "Tell me about a time you handled conflict," and "Give me an example of when you needed to solve a problem creatively.” Looking at your work history is a way for an employer to learn if you’ll be a good fit for the new job.
When you’re asked about teamwork, choose an example of a time you worked in a team environment. If you don’t have much work history, you can use an example from school, a club, or a volunteer experience. Think of a specific time when you worked very well as a team player or helped achieve a team goal.
When answering the question, you can use the STAR interview response technique:
- Situation: Describe the context or situation. Explain where and when you worked in this particular team setting.
- Task: Explain the mission of the team—describe the project you were working on, or what kind of teamwork you had to do. If there was a problem in the group, explain that problem or challenge.
- Action: Describe the actions you took to complete the teamwork or solve the problem.
- Result: Finally, explain the result of the actions taken. Emphasize what your team accomplished, or what you learned.
Examples of the Best Answers
Here are some examples of good answers that you can use to craft your own response.
I believe that I have a lot to contribute to a team environment; I love to help resolve group issues through research and communication. For example, during planning for a major event, our team struggled to decide how to set up the room. Rather than getting into an argument about personal preferences, I did some research using event planning industry trade publications to find information on the best room set up for customer experience for our type of event. By sharing the research and the rationale, my coworkers and I agreed this was the best approach and we had a great event. Customer satisfaction was up several percentage points over the previous year's event.
Why It Works: Not only does the applicant say that he or she likes the team environment, but then gives an example of this based on a problem solved for the team through research.
I enjoy working in a team environment, and I get along well with people. In my past work experience, I implemented a system to help organize the communication between my coworkers to enhance our productivity as a team. It helped us delegate tasks more easily, which led to earlier completion dates.
Why It Works: The applicant not only stated that he or she enjoys a group approach but developed a system so communication between group members could be enhanced.
I prefer teamwork. Different team members contribute different perspectives, and the synergy between team members can produce creative and productive results. I love to help draw out the unique skill sets of different team members. For example, I recently worked on a large group project in which one or two introverted members were not sharing their opinions with the group. I suggested breaking our large group into smaller teams for a brainstorming session. In these smaller teams, the quieter members became more vocal and shared some terrific ideas. These ideas became part of our strategy and helped us successfully complete the project.
Why It Works: The applicant presents a good perspective of functioning within a team and how to involve the entire team.
Tips for Giving the Best Answer
Give Examples. In order to answer the question, you should illustrate to the interviewer by using examples from your background when you have worked successfully in a team and how you have done it.
Use the STAR Response Interview Technique. This interview technique allows you to explain the situation, task, action, and response regarding your teamwork experience.
Explain. Use an example from your previous work history to explain to the interviewer why you enjoy teamwork.
What Not to Say
Don’t Trash Teamwork. If you don’t enjoy working in a team environment, perhaps you are interviewing for the wrong job.
Don’t Talk About Being an Introvert. If you are shy, or an introvert, or if you have never worked in a team environment, don’t mention your personality traits. Try to find an example of when you worked with others, perhaps in school, volunteer work, or another venue.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- Do you prefer to work independently or be part of a team? - Best Answers
- Have you ever had difficulty working with a manager? - Best Answers
- What can you contribute to this company? - Best Answers
Prepare an Answer: It's much easier to answer questions when you're prepared. Most jobs involve teamwork on some level, so know how you'll respond.
Share Examples: When answering the question have an example from a previous job or other circumstance prepared where you effectively functioned in a team situation before you go to your interview. Practice your response.
Keep it Positive: Be positive, but honest. If working on a team isn't the best fit for you, consider other roles that might be a better match.