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Are you a team player? Be prepared with these teamwork interview questions

Are you a team player? Be prepared with these teamwork interview questions

Artwork by: Stas Podgornov

  • Why teamwork skills are important to demonstrate
  • What does teamwork look like in the workplace?
  • How do you demonstrate teamwork in an interview?
  • 10 Sample teamwork interview questions with answers
  • Key takeaways

Legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson said, "The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team." Are you a team player in the workplace? Show the interviewer your teamwork skills with these common teamwork interview questions.

During your interview prep, it’s important to research and develop answers to common interview questions so that you have professional, coherent, and job-relevant answers ready to go. Along with "Tell me about yourself," or "Where do you see yourself in five years," you'll most likely be asked about your teamwork skills. 

Teamwork, or the ability to be a team player, is a fundamental facet of most positions, so interviewers usually ask questions to gauge your ability to work as a part of a team. And it makes sense — success in the workplace is rarely a solitary endeavor and often requires cooperation with other people on the team. Having effective teamwork skills can be a definite asset to your career, since nearly all positions, levels, or industries require teamwork to succeed.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of teamwork interview questions, including:

  • Why interviewers ask about your teamwork skills

  • Demonstrating teamwork in an interview

  • 10 typical teamwork interview questions and answers

  • Dos and don’ts when answering teamwork interview questions

Why teamwork skills are important to demonstrate

While they sometimes seem like “gotcha” questions, interviewers ask about your teamwork skills to find out  if you’re a team player. Sounds obvious, right? But essentially, potential employers need to know how you deal with group work and what your teamwork style is — are you a leader? A follower? An organizer? These questions (and your answers) are designed to see how you get along with others, which is a key component of most work environments. 

The interviewer is also looking to find out how you feel about teamwork — or would you rather work solo? This will help them determine if you’re a good fit for the position because team player questions can demonstrate your past experiences working on a team, how you’ve overcome challenges, and if you demonstrate leadership potential or abilities.

What does teamwork look like in the workplace?

A team player is an employee who enthusiastically participates with a team to accomplish goals, finish tasks, or handle projects. Someone with good teamwork skills is an effective listener, values ideas, and enhances the work process and/or the final output of the team. A team player takes an active role in overcoming challenges the team may face and appreciates that when the team succeeds, everyone succeeds. 

On your own, you might lean toward making choices purely for your own benefit. Perhaps you like doing certain tasks and try to avoid others or you think one project might be better for your career than another. While it's important to think about your own needs and your career growth, it's not the only thing to consider. When you work on a team, you have to take everyone’s needs into account. In relation to that, you should keep the following questions in mind:

  • Do my actions help the team's goals?

  • Would my skills help the team in other areas?

  • If I slack off, will it cause difficulties for the team?

  • Are there things I can improve to help the team meet our goals?

A strong team player works to find a balance between personal needs and the needs of the group. It’s great to be singled out for your accomplishments, but it’s also fulfilling to share success with the whole team. With effective teamwork, everyone lifts each other up so they all thrive. 

How do you demonstrate teamwork in an interview?

It's easy to say, "I'm a good team player," but that phrase is meaningless on its own. So how can you demonstrate that you're a team player? A good way to answer the question in an interview is by using the STAR method. It allows interviewers to "see" you perform specific tasks and get a positive outcome. 

So what does this look like in practice? Here’s how to craft an answer about your teamwork skills:

  1. Do your research. Investigate the company and the role you’re pursuing. It’s always helpful to remind yourself about the specific things they’re looking for before the interview. 

  2. Review your career so far. Think of experiences that demonstrate how you’ve worked as part of a team. Identify what role you performed in a group task, what you contributed, and the end result. (If you don’t have much work experience, you can refer to your involvement with volunteer work, school projects, or clubs and organizations.) 

  3. Include positive, teamwork-related qualities in your answer. These could include dependability, active listening, effective communication, flexibility, and interpersonal skills. 

  4. Connect the story to the role. The interviewer wants to determine if you’re a good fit for the job, so your answer should link your experience to your target job. Demonstrate how your teamwork experience would benefit the team, as well as the company as a whole.

  5. Be honest. It’s important to find a job that meets your needs, personality, and work style. If you like working independently, modify your response to demonstrate how you could contribute to the team’s goals by working solo.

  • Think before responding. Take a moment to craft your answer.
  • Walk the interviewer through your thought process.
  • Keep your answer to two minutes or less.
  • Say you can’t think of anything. Ask the interviewer if you can take a minute to consider the question.
  • Lie. Interviewers know when you're bluffing, which could harm your professional reputation.
  • Focus too much on other people. Even though you’re part of a team, highlight your contributions and skills.

10 Sample teamwork interview questions with answers

1. Do you like working as part of a team?

“I actually prefer to work on a team, because I think we’re more effective and creative when we work with others. I have experience both as a team member and a leader — last quarter I was chosen to lead the team in a time-sensitive redesign project. Because we were able to collaborate so effectively, we were able to generate our product and deliver the implementation plan well ahead of schedule.” 

2. Tell me about a time you demonstrated teamwork skills.

“I worked for a landscaping design firm during the slow winter season. I led a series of meetings where our team worked together to create new advertising campaigns and sales approaches. Everyone’s input was welcomed and valued, and by the time Spring rolled around, we exceeded our pre-season orders by 27%.”

3. Can you tell me about a situation where your team project failed?

“A few years ago I was part of a team that had issues with communication. Goals weren't met, tasks didn’t get done, and we failed to meet our goals. I tried several approaches to improve our communication over the lifecycle of the project. Ultimately, I learned that it’s important to set expectations for communication before the project starts, so all team members stay in contact and understand what steps they need to take to ensure the project is successful.”

4. Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a team.

“In a coffee café, effective teamwork is vital. Although I was usually a barista, we were also responsible for other tasks, such as keeping an accurate supply inventory, bolstering customer service, and helping with kitchen clean-up. Last year we had some new team members who simply didn’t like each other. I suggested to the manager that we try some team-building exercises, such as a creative flavor competition with fun prizes. This helped motivate new team members to get along, gave them a chance to let off steam, and collaborate in a fun, low-pressure environment.”

5. As a leader, what strategies would you use to motivate your team?

“I think people feel more motivated when they’re recognized for the small achievements, as well as big successes. I make sure to thank the members of my team with personal notes, emails, or a cup of coffee. I tell them how much I (and the rest of the team) appreciate their hard work, and I remind them how they’ve contributed to our success. Since I’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed a definite increase in sustaining productivity and meeting deadlines.”

6. What roles have you performed in team settings?

“While I enjoy being part of a team, I also appreciate the opportunity to be a leader and oversee the individual team efforts. I have strong scheduling, organizational, and support skills, which is why I'm often asked to take the lead in critical projects, such as our new IT infrastructure improvement.”

7. Tell me about a workplace conflict that you’ve had to deal with.

“Last year we had a situation in which an established team member criticized a new employee, calling attention to some mistakes she made and making no effort to help her acclimate to the workplace. I talked to her privately and reminded her that the first few months of a new job can be challenging and that everyone needs time to acclimate. I also let her know that I was training the new hire personally, which assured the established employee that the new hire was learning the proper procedures and neutralized any further negativity.”

8. How do you feel about working in a team environment?

“I was working as a marketing associate for a digital marketing firm. I like working on teams because I find greater success when I have teammates to support me. But I also appreciate having time to work independently. What I liked about the setup at the marketing firm was that we came together as a group in the morning, but we had a brief break around 1:30 to refocus and reflect on our work before meeting again at the end of the day. I found the schedule was conducive to productivity, and it allowed us to complete both our individual and team goals.”

9. Can you provide an example of your teamwork skills?

“I’ve played sports since I was a child, from wiffle ball to the varsity swim team in college. Even now, I play on an over 40 bowling team. I think sports has really had a positive influence on my career, since I know how to assess the individual strengths of my co-workers, communicate effectively, and synchronize my work to complement theirs.”

10. What would you do if there was a problem with a member of your team not doing a fair share of the work?

"The most important thing is to not call them out in front of the team because you never know what people are going through. I would speak to them in a private setting, making sure to be as non-confrontational as possible, utilizing "I" statements to show them there's an issue that we need to solve together. Once I’ve figured out what the issue is, I would determine if I or other members of the team could help boost this person’s productivity. I'd say this method solves the problem about 98% of the time. On the rare occasions that it doesn’t, I meet one-on-one with my manager to see if we can come up with an alternate solution.”

As a vital soft skill, teamwork is an essential part of success in the workplace. Employers want to hire people who can work well with others but also understand that not every person on the team can or will be the star of the team. When all members of a team work together toward success, everyone benefits. Being able to answer teamwork interview questions professionally and succinctly will go a long way toward showing you're a good team player and the best person for the job.

If you want to take your interviewing skills to the next level, consider utilizing our interview prep services.

Key takeaways

  1. Teamwork is a fundamental facet of most positions, so interviewers usually ask questions to gauge your ability to work as a part of a team.

  2. A team player is an employee who enthusiastically participates with a team to accomplish goals, finish tasks, or handle projects. 

  3. Remember to prepare by coming up with specific examples from your career that demonstrate your effective teamwork skills. 

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