How to Answer a Team Player Interview Question
Team player questions are designed to assess your behavior as an employee. Interviewers will want to know how well you work with others and if you can play both leadership and supportive roles in your prospective position. A lot of jobs require teaming up with others to achieve company goals, at least sometimes. Convincing your interviewer that you're a team player can clinch the interview, and doing so is simply a matter of preparation and rehearsal.
Assessing Team Player Questions
Research the company's definition of a team player.Each company defines teamwork differently. You should never go into an interview making assumptions about the nature of teamwork in a given company. You want your response catered to a specific company's values.
- Review the job description carefully prior to the interview. See what information is provided about teamwork and working with others. These descriptions can give you insight into that company's idea of teamwork.
- Different positions require different types of teamwork. A startup company may want to make sure they hire someone who can wear different hats and work with a variety of different people. An entry-level position may simply want someone who gets along with others easily. For a managerial position, a company may want someone who can work with others as a leader.
Learn about the common types of team player questions.Team player questions are not always obvious. While an interviewer may ask something like, "Are you a team player?" directly, team player questions are typically disguised. Make sure you know common questions asked to assess your skills working with a team prior to an interview.
- An employer may ask you to describe something related to teamwork. He or she may say, "Tell me about a time you had to work with others" or "Tell me about a teamwork experience that was rewarding for you."
- Employers may not ask for examples directly, but teamwork questions are always best answered with examples. An employer may ask something vague, like, "Do you prefer to work in a group or individually?" or "What is the most challenging part of being a team member?"
Evaluate what the interviewer is trying to learn.When an employer asks you a teamwork question, they are trying to assess specific things about your personality and ability to work with others. In order to answer the question most effectively, understand what an employer hopes to learn.
- These questions test your ability to work with others. Teamwork is almost always part of a job, so employers want people who are capable of working with others. Make sure you showcase an example or examples where you have worked successfully with a variety of people.
- There are no right answers to the question, but employers want to know that you can handle conflict, communicate effectively, and collaborate with others.
Have a variety of real life examples on cue.Prior to going into an interview, do some brainstorming. You should think of a number of examples you can use to answer teamwork questions. Think of a variety of recent, real life situations in which you had to work as a team.
- Jot down jobs you have had in the past. From there, jot down teamwork experiences. Did you have to make a presentation alongside a co-worker at your past job? Were you required to work with an editor when writing a press release? Were you a member of a project team? Do people report to you? How did you interact with your superior?
- Have several examples in mind. When the question is posed, you will be able to draw from the best example you have. If an employer wants to know how you handle conflict, one question should deal with a disagreement you had with a coworker. If an employer wants to assess your ability to lead, you should have an example where you took on a leadership position.
Answering with the STAR System
Learn the aspects of the STAR system.Teamwork questions are best answered through what is known as the STAR system. This is an acronym that outlines the four part answer you should give to a teamwork question.
- "S" stands for "situation." This overviews the situation in which you had to work as a team.
- "T" stands for "task." Explain the task you needed to complete as part of a team.
- "A" stands for "actions." What actions did you take as a team member to successfully complete the task?
- "R" stands for "results." Give some concrete results here. How did your actions help the company? In what ways was the situation resolved due to your efforts?
Define who you are first.Introduce your answer to a team player question by telling the interviewer what type of person you are. Are you process-oriented or results-driven? Are your comfortable relinquishing decisions to a team? Are you patient or impatient? Do you accept or give criticism well? This gives a brief overview of how you function as a team player, which will be followed with an example illustrating this personality trait.
- The answer should start with "I am the type of person who..." after which you explain your general personality. Then, you should say, "I like to..." and explain how your general personality manifests itself in action.
- For example, "I'm the kind of person who likes to focus on what someone does right over what they do wrong. I like to explain how a team member can use their good qualities in a situation in order to outweigh their flaws."
Start your answer with a description of the situation and task.From here, you need to illustrate how the above statement played out in a specific situation. What was your responsibility in the situation? What task did you have to complete? Choose a recent example of your teamwork experience. Pick an example relevant to the initial statement you made.
- For example, "I was responsible for providing one-on-one feedback to a group of freelance writers who worked for our publication." This outlines the situation. You managed freelance writers, and your responsibility was providing feedback.
- From here, get specific. What task presented a unique challenge? For example, "I had an author with great energy and fantastic writing skills. However, she had a tendency to write very fast. While her articles were always turned in early, there were a lot of typos and missing words in her work, which made the editorial team's job more difficult."
Explain the action(s) you took.This is your chance to be the star of the story, so focus on actions that make you stand out from the rest of the team. The best answers detail your exceptional ability to react to the particular situation, while also highlighting other strengths of character, like patience, alternative thinking, and time management.
- You can say something like, "I sent the writer an email requesting a private meeting. I wanted to talk to her one-on-one." Here, you showcase your ability to take initiative in resolving a situation.
- Continue with something like, "I tried to focus on what she was doing right. I said, 'Lindsay, you're a fantastic writer, but I think your passion gets the better of you. You get so enthusiastic about your ideas you do not pay attention to small details.'" You're showing how you focus on the positive over the negative, returning to your first statement.
- Close with how you ended up resolving the situation. For example, "Lindsay and I talked about specific actions she could take to catch typos, like setting her work aside for a day, reading her articles out loud, and so on."
Reveal the results of your action(s).Interviewers want to see results. You have to explain how your actions benefited your company. Take some time to explain the results of the actions you took.
- For example, say something like, "As a result, Lindsay's articles starting coming in with less errors. I was happy to be able to keep a talented writer on staff without having to stress out the editorial team."
- This answer shows you were able to manage team relations. You were able to keep talent on staff, while making sure your editorial team was not frustrated.
Ask follow up questions.Asking a question near the conclusion of the interview can help convey your interest in a company. If teamwork is a major part of a company's culture, ask about this specifically. This can show you're invested it making sure you meet the company's needs.
- Ask about the other employees. For example, say something like, "Can you tell me about the team I'll be working with?" This shows you're enthusiastic about learning how to best interact with others in the company.
- Try asking something like, "What skills would the ideal candidate have?" This shows you want to know how to best fit into the team environment at this company.
Choosing a Relevant Example
Pick a recent example.While you may have handled conflict great during a college internship, if you graduated 3 years ago this is not the best example. Employers want to know who you are now, so always pick a recent example.
- Preferably, your example should be from a job you've held in the last 12 months.
- If you've been unemployed for awhile, do you have any non-work related examples? An example from volunteer work can also help showcase your experience.
Select an example that makes you look good.You want to show that you would be an asset to a company, so pick a story that makes you shine. Choose a situation where you produced amazing results and were successful in resolving a conflict.
- Do not pick an example where you left a situation bitter or frustrated. Focus on positive experiences, in which a situation was successfully resolved.
- Results are also important to showcase. You may have smoothed over a disagreement between two co-workers, but maybe the only results were a decent 20 minute presentation. You want bigger results than that. For example, talk about the time you helped smooth out a misunderstanding between a client and employee, which resulted in a huge sale for your company.
Find an example that showcases your other strengths.Never focus solely on teamwork in a team player question. You only have so much time in a job interview to speak to all of your strengths, so make sure to get in as much information as possible.
- Think of what other strengths were involved in a team work experience you had. Say you worked with a co-worker on a sales pitch for a client. In addition to working successfully on a team, what other skills did this situation require?
- For example, you probably had to make a deadline, use great verbal communication skills, and demonstrate great interpersonal skills. Find ways to work in these skills as you outline your experience working on a team.
Perform mock interviews.Ask a friend or family member to help you practice for your interview by acting as the interviewer. Give them the list of sample questions you predicted might be asked. Encourage them to add their own questions too, so you can get comfortable performing under pressure when you haven’t crafted the perfect answer beforehand.
- The more you practice and become familiar with possible questions and your answers, the easier it will be to stay calm under pressure.
- Ask your “interviewer” to challenge you with difficult questions and resist offering feedback until the practice is over. For this exercise, they should consider you one of several strangers they have to meet with to fill the position.
QuestionHow do I answer "As a member of a team, what role do you usually play?"
Entrepreneur & Retired Financial AdvisorEntrepreneur & Retired Financial AdvisorExpert AnswerWhen working with peers, I frequently act as an informal facilitator or mediator to keep the group focused and unemotional. I work very hard to be sure everyone is heard and we can reach a consensus regarding our deliverables. When I am in a mixed group including my superiors, I keep my comments and opinions on the point, succinct, and non-judgemental.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is a good answer when asked about being a team player?
Entrepreneur & Retired Financial AdvisorEntrepreneur & Retired Financial AdvisorExpert AnswerI believe I work well with others, whether superiors or subordinates. While I am honest about my thoughts, I try to always respect the opinions of others even though we may not agree. If conflict happens or we disagree about a solution, I try to keep the discussion non-personal, focused on the issues where we can agree before trying to resolve more contentious issues. I always recognize lines of authority and understand my role in the final decision.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I motivate my team?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerFocus on the positive as much as possible. For every piece of constructive criticism you offer, provide at least two pieces of positive feedback. Encourage your teammates to encourage each other.Thanks!
- Don't hesitate to ask for clarification if you don't understand the interviewer's question. Follow-up questions are a good way of eliciting more information about the teamwork expected if you need to know more.
- When answering this question, and other interview questions, think about getting the job versus enjoying the job. Gaming the system to get a position with a culture that is uncomfortable for you doesn't make much sense.
Video: Interview Skills - Do you like working in a team or alone? Quality example answer.
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