Tell me about a time when you had to motivate a team
- 1 Tell me about a time when you had to motivate a team
- 2 Other interview questions that are similar
- 3 What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
- 4 How best to structure your answer to this question
- 5 What you should NOT do when answering questions
- 6 Tell me about a time when you had to motivate a team – Example answers
- 7 Other Interview Question and Answers
Other interview questions that are similar
- Can you describe an instance where you led a group through a challenging project?
- How have you inspired your team to achieve a goal they initially thought was unattainable?
- What strategies have you used to boost morale and productivity in a team facing low motivation?
- Share an experience where you had to rally your team to meet a tight deadline.
- How do you approach motivating a team that has experienced repeated setbacks?
- Describe a situation where you had to use creative methods to motivate a disengaged team.
- What techniques have you employed to maintain team motivation and focus during long-term projects?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
There are probably an infinite number of questions that the interviewer could ask you on the day. Some questions are incredibly common appearing in almost every interview you will have, while other questions you might hear once and never again regardless of how many jobs you apply for.
Fundamentally though all interview questions are really trying to find out one of 3 things:
1 – Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills/experience needed?)
2 – Will you do the job? (Do you have the drive/motivation to get the job done?)
3 – Will you fit in? (Does your personality match the workplace culture? Are you likeable?)
That’s it. Those are the 3 things that the interviewer is trying to ascertain. Every question that is asked of you will fundamentally be trying to resolve one (or more) of these 3 things.
So, when you’re faced with a question like “Tell me about a time when you had to motivate a team,” it’s not just about recounting a story where you were the hero. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate several key points that directly align with what the interviewer is looking for. Firstly, it shows your ability to lead and inspire others, which speaks volumes about your skills and experience (point 1). It also showcases your drive and determination to overcome obstacles, highlighting your motivation to get the job done (point 2). Lastly, the way you interact with your team and the methods you use to motivate them can give the interviewer insight into your personality and how well you might mesh with the company’s culture (point 3).
How best to structure your answer to this question
Unless the question you are asked is a straight ‘up or down / yes or no’ style question then you are going to need to learn to describe, expand and elaborate on your answers. The best way of doing this is to follow the B-STAR technique for answering interview questions.
Answers using this method follow the below structure:
B – Belief – What are your thoughts and feelings with regard to the subject matter? Your belief in the importance of teamwork and motivation highlights your leadership philosophy, directly relevant to motivating a team.
S – Situation – What was going on? Briefly explain the scenario that was taking place. – Try not to spend too much time describing the situation. The bulk of your answer needs to be about you and what you did so keep the situation simple to understand and even simpler to describe. This helps the interviewer understand the context in which you had to motivate your team, emphasizing your ability to navigate challenges.
T – Task – What was your role in the action? Most of the time it is best that you are taking an active rather than passive role in the encounter. Demonstrating your active role in motivating the team showcases your leadership skills and ability to take charge when necessary.
A – Activity (or action) – What did you do? Detail the steps you took and why you took them. – This should take up the bulk of your time answering the question. Your actions reflect your approach to solving problems and motivating your team, underscoring your practical skills and innovative methods in leadership.
R – Result – How did everything end up? Try to use figures if possible (e.g. we cut costs by $3m, customer satisfaction scores increased 25%, failures reduced to zero, ice cream parties increased ten-fold etc.). The results demonstrate the effectiveness of your leadership and motivation strategies, providing tangible evidence of your ability to positively impact the team and achieve goals.
Remember though that the B-STAR technique is descriptive not prescriptive. You do not need to follow this flow strictly, go with what is best for your answers and that will allow you to put your point across and show your experience the best.
What you should NOT do when answering questions
Do not avoid the question. Answering directly shows you’re prepared to discuss your leadership experiences.
Do not downplay the situation. Highlighting the challenge shows the value of your solution in motivating a team.
Do not overhype the situation. Keep it realistic to ensure your story is credible and relevant to motivating a team.
Do not give a one-sentence answer. Expanding on your actions demonstrates how you effectively motivate a team.
Do not overly describe the scenario and miss the action. Focus on your role in motivating the team to show your active leadership.
Do not have a passive role in the situation. Emphasize your leadership in taking action to motivate the team.
Do not forget to mention what you learned. Reflecting on your experience shows growth and how it’s applicable to future team motivation.
Tell me about a time when you had to motivate a team – Example answers
Example Answer 1 (Detailed)
In my previous role as a project manager, I strongly believed in the power of recognition and clear communication as key motivators for any team. This belief was put to the test during a critical phase of a software development project where we were behind schedule and the team’s morale was low.
The situation involved launching a new software feature within a tight deadline. Halfway through, we encountered unexpected technical challenges, causing delays and frustration among the team members. They felt overwhelmed and demotivated, doubting our ability to meet the deadline.
As the project lead, my task was not only to manage the project but also to ensure the team remained motivated and focused. I knew I had to take immediate and decisive action to turn the situation around.
I started by organizing a series of one-on-one meetings with team members to understand their individual concerns and stress points. Recognizing the team’s hard work and addressing their concerns personally reinforced their value to the project. Next, I facilitated a team meeting to redefine our project milestones, breaking down the larger goal into more manageable tasks and setting up weekly progress reviews to celebrate small wins. I also introduced flexible working hours to accommodate personal commitments, aiming to reduce burnout.
The result was transformative. Within two weeks, there was a noticeable improvement in team morale and productivity. We not only caught up with our original timeline but also delivered the feature with a week to spare. The project’s success led to a 30% increase in user satisfaction and a significant reduction in post-launch issues, which was a record achievement for our team. This experience taught me the importance of adaptability, clear communication, and the power of recognizing individual contributions to motivating a team and achieving project success.
Example Answer 2 (Shorter)
More Sample Answers…
The examples provided above can serve as a foundation for creating your unique answers. For additional inspiration, our new guide includes five sample responses to this question and over 250 answers to all of the most common interview queries.
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