A common topic in job interviews is teamwork. Often, an interviewer will ask you a question such as, “How do you feel about working on a team?” or “Tell me about a time you solved a problem as a team” or “How would you motivate team members if you were working on a project together?”
Why Teamwork Interview Questions Are Important
With these questions, interviewers can get a sense of whether or not you like working on a team, how well you work in groups, and what role you tend to take on a team project (for example, a leader, a mediator, a follower). These questions also show whether you are easy to get along with, which is important in almost any work environment.
3 Ways to Answer Questions About Teamwork
12 Teamwork Interview Questions and Best Answers
During your interview, expect to be asked about your affinity for teamwork and for examples of when you have worked on teams in the past. These questions may take the form of behavioral interview questions (regarding how you’ve acted in the past) or situational interview questions (about how you think you would react in any given situation).
Here are some of the most commonly-asked job interview questions about teamwork, along with some sample answers.
1. Give some examples of your teamwork skills.
What They Want to Know: The employer wants to learn about your teamwork skills, and whather you enjoyed participating on a team. Share examples, shows how you've developed skills that will help you succeed on the job.
I’ve participated on sports teams since I played T-ball as a kid: I played softball and baseball in high school and on an extracurricular team in college, and I play on a local softball team here. This has really helped me in my professional life, since I know how to evaluate the individual strengths of my associates, communicate well with them, and coordinate my efforts to support theirs.
More Answers: Tips for Sharing Examples of Teamwork at an Interview
2. How do you feel about working on a team?
What They Want to Know: Most jobs—at least those in traditional work settings—require that you be able to communicate and work well with others. Try to provide a recent example or two of how you’ve contributed to a team at your job.
I prefer to work as a team member, because I believe that the best ideas are developed in partnership with others. I’m equally comfortable being a team member and a team lead—a few months ago I was selected to lead our team in a deadline-critical implementation project. Because of our great teamwork, we were able to produce our deliverables to the client well before deadline.
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3. How do you feel about working in a team environment?
What They Want to Know: This question is a clear indicator that, should you be hired, you will be expected to be able to work well in a collaborative team environment. Keep your answer positive, and mention a few of the strong teamwork skills you could offer your employer.
I’m a “people person”—I enjoy working with others, and I know how to communicate well, actively listen to my associates’ opinions, and mediate any conflicts that arise. As an extrovert, I’m really energized by team dynamics and excited as I witness the progress we make towards our goals.
More Answers: How Do You Feel About Working in a Team Environment?
4. Do you prefer teamwork or working independently?
What They Want to Know: Different people have different comfort levels with teamwork; the hiring manager is interested in your personality, your preferred method of doing your work, and your ability to work without direct supervision.
I can honestly say that I’m comfortable both in working independently as well as in contributing to teams, and I was lucky enough in my previous job to be able to do some of both. Especially at the beginning of projects, I appreciate being able to strategize approaches with team members. Once we have our plan of action established, though, I enjoy working independently on my assigned tasks.
More Answers: Work Independently vs Being Part of a Team
Behavioral Interview Questions
Many questions about teamwork will be behavioral interview questions. These questions require you to provide an example from your past work experiences. For example, an interviewer might ask, “Tell me about a time you had to complete a group project under a tight deadline.”
These kinds of teamwork questions require you to think of examples from past experiences working in a group.
To answer these questions, describe the specific example you are thinking of (it helps to think of examples in advance). Then explain the situation, and what you did to either solve the problem or achieve success. Finally, describe the result.
5. Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a team.
What They Want to Know: Your interviewer will be interested not only in your response to this question, but also in your tone of voice and positivity. Be prepared with an upbeat response that demonstrates your appreciation of the value of teamwork.
Good teamwork is an essential part of working back-of-house in a restaurant. Although I am primarily a sous chef, I realize that at any point I may be called upon to cover other responsibilities—be it stepping up when the head chef is absent, expediting orders, or even washing dishes when we’re understaffed. I also know how important it is to keep up team morale. A year ago we had several new hires who weren’t getting along. I initiated a monthly team-based cooking competition, with prizes, that motivated them to work together and provided them with a fun creative outlet.
More Answers: How to Respond to Interview Questions About Teamwork
6. What role have you played in team situations?
What They Want to Know: Some people are natural leaders, while others are excellent followers. By asking this question, an employer is trying to gauge both how you would fit into the department’s current team dynamics and to assess whether you are someone they should flag for eventual leadership responsibilities.
Sample Answer: While I’m happy being a strong team player, I also love being able sometimes to take the lead and coordinate everyone’s efforts. I have great organizational, scheduling, and follow-up skills, which is why my supervisor and other team members often call upon me to take the lead in important projects, such as our major new mobile technology system acquisition last year.
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7. Have you ever had difficulty working with a manager or other team members?
What They Want to Know: This, like most teamwork questions, addresses your collegiality and your ability to work on a team and accept supervision. Keep your answer upbeat, and avoid complaining about previous managers or team members (you don’t want your interviewer to peg you as a negative whiner).
Not really. Sometimes I’ve had a new manager or team member who struggled slightly to adjust to our team dynamics and organizational culture, but I’ve found that talking to them privately and taking advantage of informal opportunities to connect them with our different team members has always eased those transitions.
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8. Tell me about a challenging workplace situation that you had to deal with.
What They Want to Know: Employers want to know how you handle stress in the workplace, particularly when it involves other team members.
A few months ago we had a situation where one of our older team members actively criticized a new hire, publicly pointing out her mistakes and just generally trying to “throw her under the bus.” I spoke to her privately, reminding her of how challenging we had all found our first few months to be. I also made it clear to the team that I was mentoring the new hire, which helped both to instill confidence in her work and to defuse any bad-mouthing.
More Answers: Interview Questions About Problems at Work
Situational Interview Questions
Even if the question is not a behavioral interview question, it is often helpful to provide a specific example. For instance, situational interview questions ask you to consider a possible future situation at work. An interviewer might ask, “How would you handle a conflict between two team members?” Although these are about future situations, you can still answer with an example from a past experience.
9. What strategies would you use to motivate your team?
What They Want to Know: How you answer this question will demonstrate whether you have the personal leadership qualities employers are seeking.
Most people, even when they love their job, want to be noticed and appreciated for the work they do. I make it a point to recognize my team members’ contributions both privately, with informal “thank you” emails, and publicly during weekly staff meetings.
More Answers: Answers for Questions About Team Motivation Strategies
10. What would you contribute to our team culture?
What They Want to Know: Interviewing, hiring, onboarding, and training new employees costs both time and money for employers, so they don’t want to have to repeat the process because an employee proves unable to adapt to their corporate culture. Research the organization ahead of time so that you can present yourself as someone who would fit seamlessly into their team culture.
I’m fortunate in having both the energy and the flexibility to work overtime or on weekends when staffing issues arise. My last manager really encouraged our team members to take care of one another, and sometimes that involved covering for others during unexpected absences. I was always happy to step in to help, knowing that my associates would do the same for me.
11. How would you handle it if there was a problem with a member of your team not doing their fair share or work?
What They Want to Know: Team dynamics can often be challenging, particularly when resentment brews over people who may not be pulling their own weight. Be ready to provide a viable solution to this common work situation.
I would first talk to them privately in a non-confrontational manner, using “I” statements to suggest that there might be a problem that we should resolve together. I’d also do my best to determine the root of the issue and to see if I or other team members could improve this person’s productivity. This approach works for me about 95% of the time; in cases where it doesn’t, I ask for a private consultation with my supervisor to brainstorm other solutions.
More Answers: Describe a Time When Your Workload Was Heavy
12. Would you still be interested in this job if you knew, at some point in the future, the work environment would change from an individual environment to a team-based approach?
What They Want to Know: This query assesses whether you have the flexibility to adapt to change in the workplace. The ideal answer should demonstrate your capacity to work both independently and as part of a new team.
Absolutely. I’ve had opportunities to work both independently and on teams in the past, and I feel like I’m effective in both settings, so long as lines of communication remain open.
More Answers: Important Teamwork Skills That Employers Value
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- Share some examples of teamwork.
- Do you like working in a fast-paced team environment?
- How did you fit in with the company culture?
- Why should we hire you?
Tips to Answer Teamwork Interview Questions
Here are some more tips for structuring winning answers to job interview questions about teamwork.
Tailor your answers to the job, providing examples that are closely related to the job you are applying for. Think about past work, internship, or volunteer experiences that required skills similar to those needed for this job.
Consider also the company and position-level of the job. Large and corporate companies may value different teamwork traits than small businesses or start-ups. If you are applying for a management-level position, try to use examples that display your leadership skills and team-building skills. If you're applying for a support position, share how you've helped resolve conflicts or kept team members on deadline.
Prepare for the possibility of a group interview. Some employers conduct group interviews to see how well candidates respond to questions and challenges within a stressful group environment. To prepare for this eventuality, check out these group interview questions, sample answers, and interviewing tips.
Prepare for the possibility of being asked to participate in a teamwork simulation. Teamwork simulations are sometimes used during situation (or “performance”) interviews. You’ll be asked to role-play a job function as part of a larger team tasked with solving a particular problem. After the simulation is completed, you may be asked to evaluate the effectiveness of the team dynamics and / or to assess your own or other team members’ performances.
Use the STAR technique. A good strategy in answering questions about teamwork is to use the STAR interview response technique where you describe a work situation involving teamwork, explain the team’s task and mission, recount the actions you took, and explain the result of these actions.
How to Make the Best Impression
You want to demonstrate to the employer both that you are enthusiastic about teamwork and that you get along with colleagues.
Before your interview, think about what you most enjoy about working on a team. This will help you to be positive when answering questions about teamwork. For instance, you might appreciate the opportunity to gain insight and feedback from colleagues.
Of course, you also want to be honest. Sometimes, you have to describe a negative teamwork experience. For example, an employer might say, “Tell me about a difficult experience you had when working on a team project.” If you say you have never had a difficult experience, the employer may think you're not telling the truth. Plus, that answer doesn't reveal how you are as a team player or how you handle difficult situations, which is what interviewers really want to know.
Instead of dodging the question, try to focus on how you solved a difficult problem.
For instance, you might answer, “I have worked on teams where one or two voices tend to dominate the group, and other peoples’ ideas are not heard. I try to be a good listener in teams, taking the time to understand everyone’s ideas, and making sure everyone’s suggestions are discussed.”