How to Respond to Interview Questions About Teamwork
How to answer interview questions about working on a team
Teamwork is a priority for many employers, so when you're preparing for your next interview, be ready to talk about your ability to work with others so you can respond properly to questions about teamwork.
There’s a variety of questions about teamwork that an employer might ask. For example, you might be asked questions such as, "Describe being a part of a team," "Tell me about a challenging workplace situation that you had to deal with," or "What role have you played in team situations?" All of these questions help the interviewer gauge your experience and comfort with teamwork.
These questions provide you with the opportunity to discuss some of the characteristics that enable you to work well with your co-workers, supervisors, and clients.
Read below for information on how to answer interview questions about teamwork, as well as sample answers to common questions.
Teamwork Skills to Mention
Here are some teamwork skills that you'll want to keep in mind as you prepare to answer questions about teamwork:
- Active listening
- Conflict management
- Developing consensus
- Drawing out the input of introverts
- Encouraging people to pull their weight
- Framing key issues
- Jumping in to do additional work during times of crisis
- Mediating conflicts
- Monitoring progress
- Recognizing the achievements of others
- Setting and following deadlines
- Team building
How to Answer Interview Questions About Teamwork
Before an interview, think of at least two team situations when you displayed some of the teamwork skills listed above. At least one of these examples should include a moment when you helped solve a problem or challenge that struck the group.
For example, perhaps two other team members had a conflict, and you helped resolve it. Or perhaps your boss pushed up a deadline at the last minute, and you helped your team speed up the rate of work to complete the project successfully and on time.
Don't limit yourself to paid employment situations if you have a limited work history. Consider group projects for classes, clubs, and volunteer organizations.
Telling a story from your past is the most effective way to communicate your strengths as a team member. When using an example in your answer, use the STAR interview response technique:
- Situation: Describe the context or situation. Explain where and when this group project took place.
- Task: Explain the mission of the group – describe the particular project you were working on. If there was a problem in the group, explain that problem or challenge.
- Action: Describe the actions you took to complete the project or solve the particular problem.
- Result: Finally, explain the result of the actions taken. Emphasize what your team accomplished, or what you learned.
In your answer, while you want to focus on how you helped the group achieve a result, try not to focus too much on your individual successes. Again, you want to show that you’re a team player. Avoid answers where you imply that the group only succeeded because of your efforts. Focus on how you helped the group achieve something together.
When answering, it is also important to stay positive. Even when you’re describing a challenge you faced in a group situation, emphasize the group's ultimate success. Don't complain about your teammates and say that you hate group projects. The employer is asking you about teamwork because it’s important to the job, so you want your answer to be honest but positive.
Examples of the Best Answers
Below are sample answers to various interview questions about teamwork. Use these samples as a template for your own answers. Be sure to replace the examples in these sample answers with examples from your own experiences.
Here is a sample answer to the interview question, “Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a team":
When I was a junior, I worked on a case project for a marketing class where six of us were asked to analyze the marketing practices of Amazon.com and make recommendations for alternative approaches. Early on we floundered in an effort to find a focus. I suggested that we look at Amazon's advertising strategy within the social media.
I led a discussion about the pros and cons of that topic and encouraged a couple of the more reticent members to chime in. Two of the group members didn't initially embrace my original proposal.
However, I was able to draw consensus after incorporating their suggestion that we focus on targeted advertising within Facebook based on users' expressed interests.
We ended up working hard as a group, receiving very positive feedback from our professor, and getting an A grade on the project.
Here is a sample answer to the interview question, “What role have you played in team situations?”:
I have years of experience in team projects at my previous marketing job and that has helped me develop into a strong listener who can resolve conflict and ensure timely completion of projects.
About a year ago, I was working on a team project with a tight deadline. One team member felt that his voice was not being heard, and as a result, he wasn’t working quickly enough on his element of the project. I sat down with him and listened to his concerns, and together we came up with a way for him to feel he had more input in the project.
By making him feel listened to, I helped our team complete the project successfully and on time.