How to Answer a Team Player Interview Question

Many interviewers are going to want to know if you're a team player. A lot of jobs require teaming up with others and getting along with colleagues even if you wouldn't normally spend your time with them. Showing that you're a team player may even clinch the interview – one way or the other. Here is some advice on responding to team player interview questions.

1. Avoid being defensive.
 It's possible you aren't very fond of working in team situations and find them excruciating, frustrating, or limiting. The problem is, no matter how brainy, brilliant, and terrific you are as an individual and no matter how unique and beneficial your skill-set is, team situations will always arise in the work context, at some stage. It might help to reassess your concept of a team before considering hermit-life. 
2. Identify team player questions. Be savvy when you're being interviewed so that you're alert to the team player question. Sometimes it may be very obvious; other times it may be dressed up as a situational question but it's still an important part of your answer. Here are some of the more common questions seeking to elicit the interviewee's team player qualities:
- What makes you a good team player?
- Do you enjoy working as part of a team?
- Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team? Why?
- How do you respond to a team member who is not pulling their weight?
- Are there any things you don't like about being part of a team?
- Have you any examples of things you've done to ensure that your role within a team was a positive one?
- Have you had an experience of being part of a team that didn't get along? What did you do?
- Describe your ideal team.
- Explain what you would do if a team member was rude/not meeting deadlines/going behind other team members' backs/aggressive, etc.
3. Plan your responses ahead of the interview. Most interviews will have a team question, so knowing your answers ahead of the interview is sensible preparation. Here are some ways to prepare:
- Think of concrete examples of teamwork you've been involved in. What did you do to contribute to the work itself and what did you do to maintain team cohesion/harmony/meet team deadlines?
- Think about how you acknowledge and act upon the opinions and ideas of others, in everyday and in working life.
- Have you got concrete examples of the ways in which you've helped colleagues to overcome work obstacles such as not getting their work done on time?
- Think about difficult situations in teams. How have you handled these? Were you a contributor of difficult behavior sometimes and if so, what have you learned from that?
- Do you have concrete examples of overcoming team communication problems? How would you apply these now?
4. Devise an answer that demonstrates how you are a good team player. Draw on the answers you've given to the questions above as well as any other relevant input you have as to your effectiveness as a team player.
- Use demonstrative examples such as: "I was part of a team where the team members were not communicating very well at the beginning. There were missed emails, lost notes, and a deadline mess-up that got us all into trouble. I suggested that we have weekly meet-ups instead of monthly ones, and that we start an internal wiki to share instant ideas instead of having to wait until the next meeting. Everyone loved the idea."
- Try to always include how you listen to others and learn from them. Show that you are prepared to acknowledge the opinions and ideas of others and that you're prepared to help people when needed. Avoid making this seem condescending or begrudging!
- Round off your explanation with a summary of how you think your fellow team members have perceived you in the past. Do you think they saw you as the team communicator, the team glue, the team motivator, etc.?
- Finally, show something concrete as an outcome of your teamwork. For example: "My team was appreciative of my willingness to stay back an extra half hour when the deadline got nearer. As a result of my help in covering a sick team member's absence, we got our project completed just ahead of time and we won the contract."
5. Treat the team player question seriously. The very fact that it has been given to you shows you immediately that being a team player matters to the job you're applying for. And if that's a problem for you, perhaps you're looking at the wrong job. On the other hand, if you're ready to embrace that aspect, be sure to make your team membership skills shine.





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