Question forms part of
Other interview questions that are similar
- How would you describe your ability to work effectively as part of a team?
- What contributions do you typically make when working in a team setting?
- Do you prefer working collaboratively in a team or independently? Why?
- How do you support and contribute to the overall success of your team?
- In your opinion, what qualities or skills make someone a strong team player?
- Can you provide an example of a situation where you demonstrated your ability to work well within a team?
- Describe your preferred role within a team and how it aligns with your strengths and expertise.
- Are you a good team player?
- What role do you play in a team?
- Do you think you work better in a team or individually?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
“I don’t want no partner, I don’t need no partner”Chris Tucker. Rush Hour 1998
Unfortunately for Chris there are very few jobs out there where this is true. Almost every job I can think of comes with colleagues. I suppose maybe a night shift security guard position might not have any.
But outside of some niche jobs you are going to have people you work with. When asking this question the interviewer is trying to find out how you will cope with working with others.
They are trying to see if you worked with them would you be a valuable asset to the team and would you get involved with the team or would you work by yourself.
Part of team working is helping out where you can, do you see a colleague struggling and provide assistance, or do you not bother because it is does not affect your role or function.
This is a behavioural question so the interviewer is not just looking for a hypothetical answer. The interview wants to see whether you have worked in a team before and what your thoughts / feelings were about the team and how you worked together to achieve your goals.
The best approach to answering this question
Teamwork makes the dream work.
That’s what the interviewer wants to hear and what you need to be conveying with your answer.
Start off by stating outright your belief that when you work as a team the value produced is more than it would have been had everyone been working individually (the team is greater than the sum of its parts).
That when you work as a team you can exploit comparative advantages and allocate tasks to individuals based on their skillset.
Of course this is a behavioural ‘Tell me about a time’ question. This means that you will need to back up your thoughts with a strong example.
Pick an example where the subject matter is clear and the benefits of team working are obvious. You don’t want the interviewer to be confused by your story.
In your example you don’t have to take on a leadership role, although if you are applying for a managerial role then it wouldn’t hurt. Regardless of your position in the team it is always a good idea to include how you provided help to junior members of the team, or just any member of the team who was struggling with the task at hand.
You should ensure you focus on your role in the team, how what you did led to a better team result and how this benefited your organisation.
How NOT to answer this question
“I haven’t worked with a team before. My current job is working as a delivery driver for a food delivery app, so I basically spend most of my time on the road on my own. Before that I was in university.”
If you get asked about your experience working in a team do not avoid the question. Fair enough in this example the interviewee does not have any professional experience in working as part of a team. The closest they have to a team mate is the app that gives them jobs.
But that does not mean they have never worked in a team before. The answer states that the interviewee was previously enrolled in university. It’s been a while since I went to Uni but I remember there being a number of group assignments that I had to take part in. The interviewee could have talked about their experience doing that.
Team sports? That is the epitome of teamwork. Sure it doesn’t show the interviewer how you behave in a professional environment but it is the next best thing.
“…unfortunately I had to take on additional steps as my team members were not putting in the required effort to get the job done”
Don’t criticise your team mates. Team work is about helping struggling team mates get better at the job. If there was a problem – such as a perceived lack of effort from certain team members – then a good team member would reach out and try to resolve the issue instead of just picking up the slack.
Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a team
Example answer 1
“I love working in a team, I find the collaboration and task specialisation that group working offers allows for higher quality and more efficient outputs – than what would happen working solo.
In a previous role I actually initiated a shared team approach to our process. At the time the department I was working in was responsible for handling customer complaints for a large retail bank.
The process that we followed had 3 main phases; reviewing the complaint, calculating moneys owed in redress and production/mailing of the payment. Each member of the team would be assigned one case and would work the case through each phase to the end. We were expected to work 2 cases a day which meant 50 cases a day for the department.
I had a knack for the calculation aspect of the work and was able to breeze through them quicker than anyone else in the team. I noticed that other colleagues would struggle with the calculations not only with how long it took them but with the overall quality.
I suggested to my manager that we break the process down and allocate people based on their strengths. I took over calculations for the department while other colleagues were put on review and payments.
Using this team approach to the task we quickly started to hit 80 cases a day and even hit 100 cases a few times, a feat that I attribute to the team work we showed”
Example answer 2
“I find that working as part of a team brings out the best in me and leads to more efficient and higher-quality outcomes. In a previous role, I encountered a disagreement regarding our approach to handling customer complaints in a retail bank.
The existing process involved each team member independently handling the entire complaint process, from review to calculation of redress amounts and payment issuance. However, I noticed that some team members struggled with the calculation aspect, which resulted in delays and compromised accuracy.
To address this challenge, I proposed a collaborative team approach that leveraged our individual strengths. I offered to take over the calculation responsibilities while assigning other team members to focus on review and payment aspects. By breaking down the process and allocating tasks based on our competencies, we aimed to optimize efficiency and accuracy.
The results were remarkable. With this new team approach, we significantly increased our productivity, going from processing 50 cases a day to consistently handling 80 cases, with occasional peaks of 100 cases. The collaborative effort and clear division of tasks played a crucial role in achieving these milestones.
Through this experience, I learned the power of recognizing and leveraging individual strengths within a team. By effectively distributing tasks and allowing team members to excel in their respective areas of expertise, we were able to enhance overall performance and deliver superior outcomes for our customers.
This experience reinforced my belief in the value of teamwork and the importance of fostering an environment where individuals can contribute their unique skills and talents to achieve shared goals.”
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 100 answers to all of the most common interview queries.
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