Question forms part of
Other interview questions that are similar
Tell me about a time when you managed a project team of people from different areas of the business
Have you ever needed to form a new team to get the job done?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
Working Together is one of the core behaviours / competencies that is assessed when applying for jobs at the Civil Service. But it’s not just public sector jobs that will assess you on this, a lot of private sectors will as well. It probably won’t be called ‘Working Together’ when they ask but the questions will be similar. All about bring people together and working together to maximise output. Oftentimes cross-functionally.
With this particular question the interviewer wants to see that not only are you able to work cross-functionally but that you are capable of being the one that brings people together in the first place.
This means they want to know if you are able to understand the importance of bringing people together, whether you possess the people management skills required to facilitate working between different groups and finally they want to know if you have the experience of doing this before.
The best approach to answering this question
This is a ‘Tell me about a time’ question so your answer needs to use a relevant example. The best answers will follow the B-STAR method.
Here’s how that would look for this question:
B – Belief – What are your thoughts / feelings regarding people working cross-functionally. Talk about how you appreciate that some projects require different people with a range of skills and expertise and the best way you have found to get the most out of these people is to have them all work together, sharing ideas without any obstacles.
S – Situation – Describe the scenario to the interviewer. Remember that you only have a short amount of time to answer each question so ensure that you don’t get too involved in describing every minute detail of your example. High level descriptors only, if the interviewer wants to learn more they will ask follow-up questions at the end.
T – Task – What was your role in the situation? Take another look at the question, it says to talk about a time where you were responsible for bringing people together. So ensure that your role in the tale is correct and that you were the one in charge of setting up this cross functional team.
A – Activity – What steps did you take? Talk about how you first identified the need to bring people together, then talk about how you set about doing that.
R – Results – How did it all turn out? This is an interview so your example should have positive results that benefit the company. Try to mention how the result was a direct consequence of the team working together.
How NOT to answer this question
Do not have a passive role. It is not enough to have just worked together will people from different areas. This question is specifically about you bringing people together. Make sure your answer touches on how you sought out other people to work with for the betterment of your piece of work or project.
Do not talk about a failure. This is an interview, if you are allowed to boast at any time it is in an interview. You need to sell yourself to these people in order to land the job. It is much harder to do so if you give an example of a time that failed. Sure you might be able to spin the failure into a good learning experience and the interviewer might score that response highly. But it is much, much easier to score highly by giving a successful example.
Tell me about a time where you were responsible for bringing people together to work on a project or piece of work? – Example answer
“As a project manager I often have to deal with people from various areas of the business. At the start of every project I feel that it is important to have a range of differing expertises within the project team as I believe this produces a better environment for the fostering of ideas and eventually a better run project.
There was a project in my organisation recently which was established to deliver a new finance tool that would seek to automate some of the current manual functions being performed by the business.
I was asked to be the project manager on this project. In my first meeting with the project sponsor I advised that I would need to establish a cross-functional team to act as the project team.
The first step I took was to identify who I needed, I did this by examining the project scope and determining what expertises would be required and matching this to the expertises available within the organisation. I quickly realised that we were missing crucial team members so sought approval to being in vendors to fill the gap.
Once I had established all of my key players I produced a roles and responsibilities report so that all team members were aware of what was required by them, when it was required and who they could lean on for support.
I held daily stand-up meetings with the whole team so that any issues could be raised quickly and be resolved then and there. These meetings proved very useful in facilitating conversations between the various different business groups.
In the end the project was delivered successfully and the new automation tool reduced the process time by around 75% in the 3 months post-launch, a success I attribute in no small part to the smooth working of the team.