During an interview, you’ll be asked a range of questions. This is so the interviewer can gain an understanding of your personality, your level of experience and your interest in the job and the company. An area your potential employer may be keen to question you further on is teamwork.
Most jobs involve some element of teamwork. By probing your attitude and approach to team working the interviewer can judge if you’re a good fit for their company.
Teamwork varies from one job (and company) to the next and interview questions can take different forms. So, you’re ready to answer anything that comes your way, here are 8 common teamwork interview questions you may encounter and, example answers to help you impress the interviewer:
- Do you prefer working in a team or on your own?
- What role do you play in a team?
- Have you ever had issues working with other team members?
- What could you contribute to our culture?
- How would former team members describe you?
- How would you communicate effectively with a diverse team?
- Describe a situation where you used teamwork to overcome a challenge
- How do you feel about working in a team?
- What makes good teamwork?
- What skills do you bring to a team?
- How do you feel about working with a colleague you don’t like?
- Give an example where a team project failed?
- How do you keep a team motivated?
- Tell me about a rewarding team experience
- How do you give feedback to team members?
Tips for Answering Common Teamwork Questions
There are 3 main categories of teamwork interview questions:
- Personality questions
- Competency questions
- Situational questions
Employers use these questions to get a better understanding of who you are as a candidate, mainly focusing on your strengths. The best way to answer these questions is to address them directly, specifically, and in detail. You can achieve this by providing a short and clear answer followed by your rationale and approach on the subject matter. Last but not least, remember to answer truthfully, as finding a job that suits your personality well is key to career success.
Competency questions focus on a candidate’s experience to evaluate their competence. Typically, employers ask for relevant examples to assess how you act at work. These questions can be challenging if you don’t approach them in the right way.
However, if you apply the STAR method and prepare relevant answers in advance, they become easy and straightforward. According to the STAR method, candidates should start their answers by providing some context, outlining the Situation and related Tasks. Then, they should explain their Actions. Lastly, it is key to highlight the Results you achieved, quantifying wherever possible.
Hiring managers use situational questions to understand how a candidate would behave in a specific business scenario. When you are presented with this type of question, we suggest taking the time to analyse the situation. Then, provide an answer where you explain the actions you would take in chronological order. Don’t forget to explain the rationale behind your decisions.
Do you prefer working in a team or on your own?
When recruiters ask this question, they are looking to understand your preferred working style. Some roles, such as being a sales representative, may be based on individual work. In others, such as project management, teamwork is crucial. Your answer should convey your desire to work in a way related to the vacancy assuming that the role is a good match for you. Then, take the time to explain what teamwork means to you and why you enjoy it.
“I’ve always felt comfortable working in a team of people with diverse backgrounds. Successful product management requires collaboration and I love working with others to develop innovative solutions. Having said that, I am equally happy working independently according to business needs.”
What role do you play in a team?
A successful team includes leaders, enablers, and supporters. Hiring managers will want to know what role suits you best. While the seniority, duties, and responsibilities of the job may reveal whether leading or helping is more important, keep in mind that the reality may be more complicated. For example, junior employees may be asked to lead a project while senior leaders may sometimes need to take a support role.
I suggest using your answer to demonstrate your fit with the job. However, flexibility is always appreciated, so if you can perform in different roles, make sure you mention this, too. Don’t forget to elaborate on how you approach your role in a team to be successful.
“I love leading a team to achieve its goals. As a servant leader, I see my role as helping others to come together, develop an effective solution, and work efficiently to implement it. Having said that, I am a hands-on leader, and I am always happy to roll up my sleeves and get things done, too.”
Have you ever had issues working with other team members?
Sometimes issues in business and life can’t be avoided. In these cases, it’s important to be able to manage problems, resolve conflict, and work with others towards your common goal. If you are asked this question, we recommend using an example where you managed to work with a difficult team member successfully. Start by outlining the context and then provide details around your actions and how you resolved the issue.
“I believe in building trust-based and mutually beneficial relationships with my colleagues. However, in company Y, I had issues with a colleague whose work wasn’t aligned with our health & safety requirements. I decided to have a conversation with them, explain the importance of health & safety, and provide informal training to help them succeed. This resolved the issue and we developed a positive working relationship.”
How could you contribute to our culture?
Hiring for cultural fit is a trend that won’t slow down anytime soon. With this in mind, it is important to showcase how you fit with the employer’s culture and the contributions that you can make.
Make sure you research the employer before the interview to get a deep understanding of their culture. Their website and social media can be a good starting point, but we suggest checking their Glassdoor reviews, too. You can also discuss with current and ex-employees.
Then, tailor your answer accordingly based on the information you find. Ideally, you will be interviewing with a business that aligns with your personal style. If this is the case, speak about everything that makes you feel you would be a good addition to their tribe.
“Speaking with Jane from the Marketing team, I understand that you put an emphasis on flexibility, diversity, and individuality. I am committed to building and managing teams where people can be themselves, feel valued, and do their best work. I believe our values are aligned and would be excited to implement your culture through my work.”
How would former team members describe you?
Feedback can be important, as sometimes it’s hard to make an objective self-evaluation. Hiring managers may ask you how your boss, peers, or direct reports would describe you to understand how others perceive you. We suggest using real feedback as a basis to answer this question, demonstrating your professional reputation. Focus on aspects relevant to the job for maximum impact.
“Throughout my career, I have developed a reputation as someone who gets things done. My colleagues would describe me as someone who is not afraid to work hard, take calculated risks, and keep pushing until the team has met its goals. However, they would also say that I always operate in line with regulations and best practice.”
How would you communicate effectively with a diverse team?
Diversity and inclusion are based on a strong business and ethical case. If you are interviewing for a management position, it’s key to demonstrate your ability to work with diverse people. Start by providing an overview of actions that you would take to make sure everyone in the team would feel respected and be productive. Then, analyse the rationale for your decisions to allow the interviewer to assess your thought process.
“I would start by holding one-to-ones to understand the needs of each team member. Then, I would set up processes that allow people to do their best work. Also, I would work on building a culture that makes everyone feel motivated and happy.”
Describe a situation where you used teamwork to overcome a challenge
Some challenges can only be tackled using teamwork even if there is no formal project team. When decision-makers ask you for teamwork examples, you can use a situation where you went above and beyond and pulled a team together to solve a problem. As always, we suggest using the STAR method to describe the situation, what you did, and what were the results.
“After we went live with project X, we faced some unexpected technical issues that could be disruptive to the business. When I noticed, I reached out to the extended team and pulled an informal taskforce together to resolve this as soon as possible. The teamwork paid off and everything got fixed fast, minimising business issues.”
How do you feel about working in a team?
Every person is different and this is also reflected in the way we work. Some are happiest and most productive working solo, will others prefer to work in a team environment. By asking ‘How do you feel about working in a team’ the interviewer is trying to find out which work method you prefer and whether you’re a good match for their organisation.
“In my previous role, I worked as part of a team and I enjoyed the collaborative environment. I’m also comfortable working alone and sometimes I find the task or project requires this. I find that coming together as a team to discuss our status on the project and to ask/answer questions enables us to achieve our individual and team goals.”
What makes good teamwork?
There is no right or wrong answer to this as each person’s view will be different. But, your response will help the employer see if your view matches their idea of what makes good teamwork.
“In my last job, I was part of a successful sales team that month-on-month achieved our targets. What allowed us to do this was a supportive manager. We held team meetings twice a week and were encouraged to come up with new revenue-generating campaigns. Knowing we had a manager who believed in us and who supported us gave us the confidence to push hard as a team.”
What skills do you bring to a team?
This self-awareness question will help the employer understand what value you’ll bring to the job and to a team. Your answer should include a real-life work example that highlights what you contributed to the team and the outcome of this.
“I’ll bring energy, determination, leadership and sincerity to the team. In my last job, our project manager was due to give an important presentation but was sick. As I had helped to prepare the slides I volunteered to make the presentation even though speaking in public is way out of my comfort zone. This shows that I’m willing to take leadership when necessary and put the needs of the team before my own."
How do you feel about working with a colleague you don’t like?
Employers know that there may be occasions where coworkers don’t jell with each other. This can be particularly evident when tasked with working together in a team. What they’re looking for is someone who acts professionally, compromises when needed and who can focus on getting the project completed.
Even if you really didn’t like a colleague, don’t be tempted to bad mouth them. Speak about the situation in a positive tone.
“I’ve often had to work with colleagues or peers on team projects. It can take some adjustment as people work in varying ways, but it’s never been a problem. We may have different ideas and opinions but keeping open communication and respecting each other's ideas is key to coming to the best solution.”
Give an example where a team project failed?
Failure isn’t something to be ashamed of as it’s an opportunity to reflect and improve. By recognising your own failings and addressing these, an employer will see that you have the resilience and the ability to overcome challenges. These are attributes that employers look for.
“Our team was tasked with working on a project for a new client. The project was complex and required collaborating with international teams. Communication was difficult due to language barriers and time zones. Ultimately, the project overran on budget. This experience taught me the importance of agreeing expectations upfront and having robust communication channels in place prior to starting a project.”
How do you keep a team motivated?
This style of question will frequently be asked for managerial roles. Even if the job you’re going for doesn’t involve managerial responsibilities, employers will still be interested to see if you have leadership qualities. This style of question will help determine if you have.
Relate your answer to an example and answer with clarity.
“I believe the key to keeping a team motivated so that they perform at their best is clearly defining the purpose of the project and the roles they play as individuals. At the start of each project, I get the team together to discuss the value of the project. We also brainstorm ideas and processes for achieving our goals. This method makes the team feel more invested in the project.”
Tell me about a rewarding team experience
Personality fit is extremely important to employers, especially if teamwork is integral to the job you’re interviewing for. The interviewer is wanting to know whether you view teamwork positively and if you value collaboration. To help your answer hit a cord with the interviewer, read the job description to see what type of teamwork the job asks for and relate your answer to it.
“As a member of the marketing team we worked on a big campaign to support the launch of a new product. We created a plan to gain press coverage and to drive sales through the company website. Tasks were divided among the team based on individuals competency. By working closely, within the first quarter we secured coverage in all the major newspapers and achieved £x sales.”
How do you give feedback to team members?
The employer may ask this question to see if you’re confident giving feedback and to find out how you go about giving it. This question or a variant of it, will most likely be asked for managerial roles. Even if you’re interviewing for a junior role, employers will be impressed by your ability to provide feedback with confidence, sincerity and clarity.
“My assistant had been asked to collect the details of people contacting us through the company website. She started to write them down on bits of paper. I was worried these would get lost. So, I created a spreadsheet she could use. I explained why it was easier to collect information this way and explained how to use it. My assistant received compliments from the senior team on how organised the information was presented”