Teamwork Interview Questions

The ability to work well with others is a critical skill for most positions. Teamwork questions are the most common of all behavioral interview questions. All job seekers, whether seeking management or non-management related positions, should be prepared to answer interview questions about working on a team.

Behavioral interview questions about teamwork can be general or specific. For entry-level positions you can expect the questions to be more general. The following are a few examples of general teamwork interview questions:

  • Describe for me a team project you worked on.
  • Tell me about a team experience that you found rewarding.
  • Tell me why you consider yourself a team player.

For job seekers applying to management and C-level positions, expect to get more experience specific questions that focus on your ability to function within, or manage, a challenging team dynamic. A few interview questions of this nature might include the following:

  • Share with me an example of when you fulfilled a leadership role.
  • Describe for me a time when you were required to manage a challenging team dynamic.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to resolve a serious conflict.
  • Tell me about a time you were involved with a team project that failed.

Teamwork related interview questions are designed to test your ability to interact and work with others in a productive manner. Interviewers want to find out if you can deal with diverse and often difficult personalities, if you can communicate effectively, if you can collaborate, mediate, motivate, or even lead when necessary. While there are no "right" answers to the questions above, each one provides you the opportunity to demonstrate that you're a team player.

Your ability to demonstrate you're a team player will also depend on how well you understand what "teamwork" means for the position you're seeking. Before the interview, carefully review the job description so you understand what "teamwork" means for the position and the company. For example, if you're apply for a position with a start-up, they may be looking for someone who has the ability to wear different hats and interact with employees and clients on many different levels. For managerial positions, team leadership may be the exclusive focus of interview questions. For an entry-level position, the interviewer may simply want to find out how well you get along with others.

Whatever position you're applying for, it's important that you're ready to answer teamwork related questions. Come to the interview with several examples based on your past work experience that demonstrate you know how to work with, manage or lead teams. For recent college grads with limited professional experience, find academic or extracurricular experiences that demonstrate your ability to work as part of a team.



Teamwork Interview Questions and Answers
Below are several interview questions designed to test your ability to work effectively with teams. Each question is followed up with an example answer along with tips for answering that type of question. Read each question and review each answer. Then develop your own answer to each question drawing on your own experience. This will help you prepare to answer any team related questions an interviewer throws at you.

Please provide an example of when you were part of a team. What was your role? How did you contribute to this task group? How often did you interact with other team members?

Select a group project you participated in during the past and explain your role and responsibilities. Provide a concise answer without neglecting to discuss important details about your participation in the project. It's fine to discuss project goals and metrics, how you communicated with team members, project conclusions, and any other relevant facts. The following is a good answer to this question.

I worked as a quality assurance manager for XYZ engineering firm from 1998 to 2004. It was my job to make sure all project guidelines were followed and that product specs were being met. It was also my responsibility to communicate directly with the project manager, COO, and about 20 other team members. When project guidelines were missed or ignored, or project phases didn't meet spec, I communicated my findings to the project manager who in turn took the necessary action to fix the problems.

For about two years I worked with a project manager who felt that project guidelines were too strict. Consequently, he was reluctant to enforce guidelines and reprimand other team members when work was performed outside of guidelines. I had to walk a fine line between maintaining the peace and doing my job. On one specific occassion, where there was a blantant violation of protocol, I took it upon myself to communicate my findings directly to the COO. With his permission I also communicated directly with several team members to remedy the situation.

When the project manager caught wind of what I had done, he was pretty upset--and that's putting it mildly. He pulled me into his office and immediately confronted me about superceding his authority. I was direct and honest in my response to his affront. I let him know that I felt he was one of the best project managers I had worked with BUT he had a tendency to ignore important quality assurance guidelines. I also told him that I was only there to do my job and that as long as he saw fit to have me on his team I would continue to my job to the best of my ability, even if he didn't feel my role was necessary. To my surprise he apologized and told me he appreciated my candor and integrity. He did admit he didn't see the necessity of my position but that as long as it was required by corporate he would respect it.

Have you ever had an experience where there were issues or strong disagreement among the team members? What did you do?

There will always be disagreements when working in teams. Regardless of what team members disagree about, each individual is responsible to execute their duties, and project goals must be achieved. Employers recruit employees who can compromise and solve problems. This question could be answered as follows:

I have worked in teams where individual members feuded and disagreed with other members. I typically ignored these issues at first since my colleagues usually resolved their differences quickly. If problems were not resolved quickly, I met individually and together with each feuding party and recommend a workable compromise. I always tried to maintain an objective perspective and not involve myself directly in the conflict.

Have you ever been a project leader in a team? How did you handle/face issues?

Project leaders are assigned important responsibilities. Managers rely on them to ensure work is performed on time and quality standards are adhered to. Job candidates must provide answers that demonstrate their competency and maturity. The following is an example of an effective reply to this question.

I have handled and resolved various problems while managing group projects. To resolve problems, I gathered data and relevant facts, determined root causes, spoke with team members, and developed solutions that presented as suggestions. I always tried to help team members see the solution that I felt were self evident without forcing the solution upon them.

Tell us about your experience working with peers. How did it go? Have you ever faced difficulties and disagreements?

Team members often feud even though they're required to act professionally and work together. Some team members have professional disagreements, while others have conflicting personalities. If you've feuded with a colleague in the past, whether professionally or personally, be honest with the interviewer and explain in detail the situation. The following is an example of an effective answer.

I feuded with a colleague while I worked at (identify organization) as a (identify position). Even though we disagreed about (identify conflict), I worked with my colleague to resolve the problem. To do so, I communicated openly with him or her and agreed to compromise and modify my behavior. The most effective way to resolve a problem is through open communication. While discussing the problem with my colleague, I respected his or her perspective and listened attentively.

Have you been a team leader? Describe your role as a team leader. Tell us about the challenges you faced in trying to resolve issues among team members. What could you have done to be more effective?

Team leaders must provide effective leadership, exemplify organizational values, and ensure projects are completed properly and on time. Additionally, team leaders are responsible for resolving problems and conflicts among team members, keeping management informed about progress, and motivating team members. When individual team members are underperforming, it's the responsibility of the team leader to assist them. The following is an effective response to this question.

I worked as a project manager for XYZ company for three years during which time I managed various teams ranging from five to twenty team members. I was responsible for making sure team members were productive, projects remained within budget, and deadlines were met. As project manager I took on several leadership responsibilities. In several instances I had to resolve conflicts that arrose among team members.

When resolving problems among team members, I typically meet with them individually and collectively to collect facts and propose a compromise. I typically try to maintain an objective perspective and not involve myself in the conflict itself. However, on one occasion I felt compelled to take sides in a disagreement and directly reprimand a subordinate for breaking with company protocol and ignoring project guidelines. The subordinate quit the next day. If faced with a similar situation today, I'd try to find a less confrontational solution.

Have you ever had difficulty working with a manager?

It's not uncommon for a team member to have had difficulty working with a manager, so if you an experience share it. Just make sure to use the experience to showcase your ability to deal with conflict in a productive mannner. The following is an example of an effective answer to this question.

I had a rocky start with a new project manager who was hired to replace our previous project manager. The new project manager had a very different personality than the previous project manager. He was gruff, unyielding, and it was his way or the high way. Many team members, including myself, felt like we were always walking on egg shells.

One day when the project manager got in my face I decided to confront him. Initially, I want to knock his block off. Instead, I maintained my cool and simply explained how myself and the rest of the team was feeling. I then closed my mouth and just listened. I was surpirsed by his response. He proceeded to the explain that our project was months behind schedule. It was way over budget and that if it didn't get turned around quickly that he, along with the rest of us, would likely be let go--like the previous project manager. He apologized for having been difficult but wanting me to know that he also felt like he was in a difficult situation. He then surprised me again by asking if I had any ideas as to how we could turn things around and increase productivity.

Even though the new project manager's personality didn't change much, I gained a new appreciation for why he acted the way he did. I even came to agree that maybe he was the type of manager that was needed to head our project.

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When answering any question, always provide honest answers and specific examples. If you've never worked as team leader, do not embellish your experience. Rather, be honest and emphasize the skills you possess that make you an ideal team leader. Employers are always looking for individuals with leadership potential.



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