If you’re a job seeker pursuing a team-oriented role, prepare to answer the questions below to boost your odds of getting hired.
Teamwork Behavioral Interview Questions
Many of the teamwork interview questions you’ll face will be behavioral questions. These are job interview questions that begin with a phrase like, “Tell me about a time when…”
Employers want to see that you have a proven track record of utilizing teamwork skills to get good results and overcome challenges.
Even if you have no previous work experience, they’ll be looking for evidence of successful teamwork in your academic work and group projects.
The following are common behavioral teamwork interview questions:
1. Tell me about a time you had to work with someone whose personality was very different from yours.
In any group of workers, you’ll find a mix of personalities. And you need to work well with all of these team members.
So hiring managers want to make sure you can mesh with their existing team culture and mix of people in order to complete each team project successfully.
To answer this teamwork interview question, discuss teamwork skills such as:
- Active listening
- Staying calm and level-headed
If you’ve stepped into a diverse team environment with personalities far different than yours, and succeeded in the past, consider sharing a brief story or example.
Any story highlighting your ability to blend in with an existing team culture is going to improve your odds of landing the job.
The bottom line is:
A hiring manager will NEVER hire someone who seems like they’ll disrupt/endanger the existing team.
Bringing a new person into the group is never more important than maintaining what’s already in place and working!
So as you prepare to answer this question, remember that the team leader/hiring manager has a successful team already and will not risk that for a new hire.
You need to seem flexible, humble, and easy to work with. Show that you’ll step in and add to what’s already in place, not try to force your way into each team project and interaction.
Sample Answer for Entry-Level Candidates:
In my final semester at college, we had a group project. Two people in my group were both very loud and aggressive, and I tend to be more reserved. I realized within the first week that if I wanted my input to be heard and if I wanted to make an impact on this final project for the class, I was going to have to change my approach.
I became more vocal in group discussions, and there were a couple of instances when I asked the other two team members to slow down because I felt we were making the wrong choice.
My approach was successful, and the other team members began listening to my input and discussing their ideas with me before taking action. The project ended up incorporating a balance of all three of our ideas, and we received an A grade. This was a rewarding team experience that taught me to speak up for myself while also being polite and understanding of others.
Sample Answer for Experienced Candidates:
In my previous job I was asked to train three new software developers who we had hired out of college to help build our new mobile app.
I could tell immediately that they were very shy and quiet. I got the sense they weren’t going to ask questions if they didn’t understand something, so I adapted my training style and asked more questions of them to make sure they were following along.
I think they appreciated this and slowly became more comfortable asking questions of their own. The project ended up being a success. We launched the app on time and hit our target number of downloads and paying customers in the first 6 months.
2. Tell me about a conflict you’ve faced at work and how you dealt with it.
When you answer this teamwork interview question, you should aim to show the employer that you can stay calm and professional even when an argument or dispute does occur.
Disagreements will happen eventually, and you have to show that you’ll put team success above all else.
The employer wants to know that you’ll be able to stay level-headed, put your ego aside, and communicate to find out everyone’s viewpoint before reacting too hastily.
They want to see that you won’t take a work disagreement personally or overreact, hold a grudge that harms the team environment, etc.
In my previous job as an administrative assistant, I performed tasks for two different managers. I found myself in a situation where both managers were demanding a lot of my time and resources and I was forced to say ‘no’ to some of their tasks or else I’d fall severely behind on the higher-priority tasks.
At first, one of my managers was visibly upset. I quickly realized that I hadn’t done a good enough job of explaining the situation. I quickly asked to meet one-on-one and told the manager why I didn’t have as much time available as he thought. He immediately understood and I was able to avoid a bigger conflict.
It turned out that neither manager realized how busy I was. They ended up speaking with each other and coming up with a plan that would lighten my workload so that I could continue to perform the most important tasks for both of them.
3. Give me an example of how you have worked on teams. What role did you play?
You may have to answer teamwork interview questions about what roles you’ve played in past groups. What tasks were given to you, and what were you responsible for?
To prepare, think of any recent teamwork you’ve done and be ready to communicate effectively about what work you performed, what the team did overall, and the positive results your team achieved.
Think about projects most relevant to what this employer needs, too. It’s always better to give an example that shows you have skills that will transfer well into the role you want next.
In my last job, I was frequently required to interact with many different groups in the company like finance, accounting, sales, customer service, and more. I’ve also worked on projects with five other colleagues in my own group.
In those cases, I played the role of a specialist because I’m the only team member who is familiar with government contracts. So I provided expert insight into that area, and they handled the other areas.
My understanding, based on reading the job description for this position, is that you need that same skill set in your group right now. Is that correct? And can you talk about how I’d interact with the rest of the group here?
4. Tell me about a time you wish you’d handled a situation with a colleague differently.
When answering this job interview question, try to think back to a time when you had a dispute, and how you could have communicated more effectively to avoid the issue.
Own up to it and don’t make excuses, but make sure the interviewer realizes that you learned from the negative experience and used your learning to improve your communication and teamwork skills.
In my first job, a colleague told me to do something that wasn’t what my manager had said to do. I consulted the manager and asked for advice. My manager discussed it with the colleague and clarified everything, but I think this harmed my relationship with that colleague, and he was somebody I was going to be working closely with.
I learned to try to resolve a minor communication issue or conflict directly with the person involved, when possible. If I had simply explained the prior instructions I was given and asked this colleague how he thought I should proceed, we could have worked this minor issue out directly.
5. Tell me about a time you needed to get information from someone who wasn’t very cooperative. What did you do?
Even if you don’t manage anyone directly, it’s important to show you can lead a project or manage a task. When an interviewer asks this question, they’re looking for proof that you can overcome problems and be persistent while staying professional.
I was managing a project in my last position and it involved getting a few reports from the customer billing team. Unfortunately, the person I usually communicate with was on vacation, so I sent an email to the head of her team. She responded by saying that nobody was available to complete the task and I’d have to wait until the following week.
Instead of replying and possibly escalating the situation, I walked to her office and calmly asked if we could speak. She said okay. I had a feeling that if I explained why I needed this information, she’d change her response. I told her how this report is used and which different departments are counting on it.
My instinct was right. She had misunderstood the purpose of the report and thought I was asking for something unusual or unnecessary. She told me that she’d do it herself after lunch. The problem was solved and I didn’t end up having to get any managers from my group involved.
6. Tell me about a time you exercised leadership.
When answering interview questions about times you’ve led, try to pick an example that’s as recent as possible, and as relevant to the job as possible.
Study the job description so you can give a response that shows you’ll be able to step into this exact environment and help the team be successful.
This is a key to giving great answers in any job interview, since hiring managers are primarily thinking, “Does this person have the skills to step into this exact position and perform well?”
So, in your answer, you can show that you’re a team player and that you have the hard skills to perform the job well, too.
Example Answer for Entry-Level Candidates:
In the HR internship I just completed, I led the overhaul of our training manuals and training procedures for new hires in the sales department. It was a complicated project because I needed to get input and approval from multiple sales managers and HR managers. I wasn’t a direct leader of anyone as an intern, but I used my communication skills to take ownership of the project and complete it before my internship finished. The company was excited about it and is currently using what I created.
Example Answer for Experienced Candidates:
In my prior role as an account manager, I became aware of an issue where a couple of our team members were not coming to meetings prepared and were costing the entire team a lot of time. It wasn’t my job to lead or manage the meeting, but I felt their behavior was negatively impacting the rest of us. I knew other account managers felt the same, so I decided to take initiative and speak to our department head about the issue.
She was immediately concerned and gave me the task of leading the meetings and setting a clearer meeting agenda with specific pieces that each person was responsible for.
I went ahead with the project and it turned out to be a big success. Over the next two months, we went from meeting for two hours per week to one hour per week while becoming more productive.
7. Tell me a time when you worked with a colleague who was not completing his or her share of the work. Who, if anyone, did you tell or talk to about it?
This question touches on a challenging workplace situation that arises when group work is involved.
Sometimes a team member isn’t pulling their weight or handling their workload.
This can damage the team performance and morale in even the strongest team-oriented environment, and hiring managers want to hire people who will handle this situation well.
There isn’t one “right” answer to job interview questions like this.
But you should show that you stayed level-headed and calm but also addressed the situation head-on and did not allow it to worsen.
In my last job, my manager met with me and the other social media manager and asked us to come up with a couple of new strategies to help our sales and marketing efforts. We left the meeting and my colleague told me to go ahead and come up with the strategies myself. Then he would revise them and give his input.
I didn’t feel comfortable with this since we were supposed to be working side by side, so I went back and asked my manager to clarify what she had envisioned for the project. She explained that she was hoping we’d sit down together and brainstorm some ideas and work as a team. So I went back to my colleague and told him that I thought we needed to sit down together and agree on a plan from the beginning. From that point forward, the project went smoothly and we both did our share of the work at each stage.
8. Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or guide others to a compromise.
When the hiring manager asks you this question, aim to show that you’re willing to give up some of your needs to put the organization first.
Try to share an example involving a team member who you compromised with for the good of the company.
Strong teamwork skills often involve putting others before yourself.
This is a very important trait to show.
If you can show that you made the best of the situation and turned it into a positive, that’s ideal (like the first example answer below).
Or if you’ve managed, people and you’re interviewing for another leadership position, talk about how you facilitated a compromise on your team and helped other team members reach a compromise (see the second example answer below).
Example Answer for Non-Managers:
I was recently in a situation where a project was promised to me as well as one of my colleagues. It happened because of a miscommunication. Unfortunately, the project was something that only required one person’s attention, and we both had been looking forward to it because it was a very significant project with a lot of visibility in the company.
I spoke with my manager. She told me that she had made a mistake and unfortunately, I wasn’t going to be the one working on the project.
I was honest with her and told her that I had been looking forward to this extra responsibility. She understood, and we spoke in detail about a few other ways I could make a bigger impact in the group and get noticed by upper management. We implemented the changes the following week, and my new responsibilities led to me getting a raise later that year. So it turned out to be a great compromise that still allowed me to advance in the company and learn new skills even though I didn’t get the project.
Example Answer for Managers:
As a sales manager, I’ve come across numerous situations in which more than one sales associate had been pursuing a new client without realizing. It’s not ideal, but it happens in our company. When this occurs on my team, I’m responsible for deciding how the commission will be paid out to the two sales reps. I try to do this as fairly as possible and create a compromise that is going to keep everyone happy. I talk to both sales reps to fully understand the situation, and I tell them in advance how it’s likely to play out to avoid surprises when they see their paychecks. We’re updating our tracking software, so this will no longer be an issue soon, but it’s an area in which I’ve had to facilitate many compromises, which has been a good learning experience.
Deliver your answer in those four steps, and you’ll be able to describe any team situation or team challenge clearly and concisely. The Muse has a detailed article with more info on this method if you want additional help.
Other Common Teamwork Interview Questions and Answers
9. How do you handle conflict?
Hiring managers want to be sure to hire someone who will get along with other team members, even if conflicts or disagreements arise.
Part of having good teamwork skills is to be able to listen to other viewpoints and handle disagreements calmly.
So when the employer asks, “How do you handle conflict?” try to show that you stay calm, listen, and understand the other person. Explain how you work to come up with logical and innovative solutions.
Talk about how you communicate clearly, and also demonstrate that you keep the company’s best interests in mind.
Don’t act like you’ve never had a conflict before. Disagreements are a part of professional life. However, you should show that you put your ego aside, tried to truly understand the other team member, and came up with a solution that was best for the team/company.
10. How do you build relationships?
Next, the employer will want to see that you’ll be a team member who can build relationships with your peers over time.
Be prepared to talk about your approach to bonding with a new team, building rapport with each new team member, and fitting into existing team dynamics.
That’s how to show hiring managers that you’ll hit the ground running in their team environment.
Consider sharing an example and discussing how you’ve built relationships with former team members in past roles, too.
And if the role that you’re interviewing for involves any leadership aspects, be sure to discuss how you build relationships with those who report to you. It’s critical to show personal leadership qualities when interviewing for a leadership position.
11. How do you motivate others?
Employers love to hire team members who will bring a positive attitude and add to the team dynamics, motivation, energy levels, etc.
A diverse team doesn’t need every team member to be outgoing, high-energy, etc., so you don’t need to be fake or pretend to be highly energetic and extroverted if you aren’t.
However, you should still show that you’re optimistic, motivated, and excited about the work you do in general.
If you seem like you don’t care much about your career or this type of work, or if you cannot answer questions like, “Why are you applying to this position?” or “Why did you choose this job?” then it’s a big red flag to hiring managers.
So when you discuss how you motivate others, talk about coming to work with a great attitude, trying to improve each day/week, communicating well and sharing a common goal with your team, leading by example, or any other tools/strategies you use to lift the team members around you.
A hiring manager is going to be far more excited to bring you on as their newest team member if you also show that you’ll boost the performance of those around you.
The exact way you motivate others will depend on your role. For example, a salesperson will motivate their team differently than a UX designer or software engineer.
More Teamwork Interview Questions to Practice:
- Are you a leader or a follower?
- Describe your work style
- What type of work environment do you prefer?
- What are your leadership experiences?
- What is your leadership style?
- How would your coworkers describe you?
Answering Teamwork Interview Questions: Conclusion
Each employer and team will have different group dynamics, but they all want to see evidence of good teamwork skills in the job interview.
Not showing the right team-based approach when you answer teamwork interview questions can cost you the job… even if you’re otherwise qualified for the role.
Show the hiring manager that you’re a team player who can communicate, stay calm, and keep the company’s best interests in mind.
Give relevant examples and cite past experiences when you can.
Speak positively about working in a team, and always review the job description before the interview so you can give answers that demonstrate that you’ll be successful at completing your assigned tasks in this specific role.
If you can show that you’ll be a net positive to their existing team environment, you’ll get far more job offers.