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Interview questions about teamwork

Use these interview questions about teamwork to find out whether your candidates show team spirit and can cooperate with their colleagues and supervisors.

Why you should ask candidates about their teamwork skills

Teamwork is an important part of every job role. Although some employees will occasionally work on a project on their own (e.g. a developer debugging a program), the outcome affects the entire team.
Good team players can:

  • Solve problems. They endeavor to solve problems before they escalate.
  • Communicate. They foster a healthy working environment.
  • Empathize. They understand individual people’s strengths.
  • Handle criticism. They take feedback on board and try to use it to improve their work.

Teamwork can always mean different things depending on what company is looking to fill what position. The following are all examples of teamwork:

  • Candidates for higher-level positions are able to handle conflicts and thus motivate their team.
  • Candidates for entry-level positions can collaborate with and learn from more senior colleagues.
  • Team members working remotely place great value on good verbal and written communication with their colleagues.
  • HR specialists organize company activities to foster team spirit.

Combine these questions with those on communication skills and problem-solving.

Sample interview questions about teamwork

  • Tell me about a group project you worked on. What role did you assume and what did you achieve?
  • Tell me about a project where you had to gather information from people outside your team. How did you approach them and how did you ensure that you got the information in good time?
  • Tell me about colleagues you didn’t see eye to eye with.
  • Did your team ever fail to hit a target? If so, what was the problem and what did you learn from it?
  • How would you respond if your team were unwilling to implement your idea?
  • What is your preferred way of working on a group project: every member working on their assigned task on their own or the whole team working together? Why is that?
  • How would you get a new team member on board?
  • What’s the best way to praise an employee for their good work?
  • What working practices strengthen team spirit (e.g. regular meetings, interdepartmental projects, team-building workshops)?
  • How would you approach a team member who has no motivation and is disrupting other people’s productivity?
  • How would you make sure that the members of a team working remotely could communicate effectively with one another?
  • What group working tools have you used in your career (e.g. Slack)?

Tips for assessing candidates’ teamwork

  • Getting candidates to recount their experiences from previous jobs will show you how they behave in a team. What was your role in group projects? How did you share information and present your ideas? How do you react in a conflict situation?
  • Look for individuals who are well aware of their own achievements but do not underrate their colleagues’ skills. You should therefore ask applicants what teamwork has allowed them to achieve.
  • Employees with good communication skills can work more efficiently in a team. They are likely to avoid long email exchanges in which they have to explain themselves or come to an arrangement.
  • Candidates for entry-level positions may struggle to think of examples of teamwork in a professional context. Their internships or time at university can also provide some good examples for these kinds of question and still show you how your candidates behave in a team.
  • It’s a good sign if candidates want to learn more about their potential future team. Questions about the structure of the department show that applicants are keen to become part of the team.

Warning signs

  • Applicants often talk in the first person. Does the candidate start every sentence with “I” even though you’re discussing a team project? This might be a sign that they prefer to work on their own rather than in a team.
  • Applicants give generic answers. Most candidates will claim that they like working in a team. If they can’t back up their assertion with an example, however, this could suggest that they only want to say the “right thing” without actually meaning it.
  • Applicants have an arrogant attitude. Self-righteous behavior is out of line as far a teamwork is concerned. People who think they know it all have no regard for other opinions and generally handle criticism badly.
  • Applicants shift the blame onto other people. Candidates who badmouth their previous employers and colleagues will probably struggle to form healthy working relationships. Good teamwork is built on compromise and mutual respect.
  • Applicants have trust issues. People who want to check up on colleagues’ work can disrupt the team’s productivity by slowing the process down. Having trust in the team is important, particularly for managerial roles, to keep everyone in it pulling together.

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