10 good team player interview questions
- Describe a group project you worked on. What was your role and what did you achieve?
- Describe a time you had to gather input from employees outside your team. How did you approach them, and how did you ensure you’d get information on time?
- Tell me about a time you had to work with a colleague you didn’t get along with.
- Has your team ever failed to reach a goal? If so, what went wrong, and what did you learn from that experience?
- What would you do if your team didn’t want to implement your idea?
- What’s your preferred way of working on a group project: each member works on an assigned task independently, or the entire team meets and works together? Why?
- How would you onboard a new team member?
- What’s the best way to give credit to an employee for their good work?
- What work habits promote team spirit? (e.g., regular meetings, cross-departmental projects, team-bonding activities)
- How would you approach a disengaged employee who tanks the team’s productivity?
1. Describe a group project you worked on. What was your role and what did you achieve?
This question helps evaluate a candidate’s past experience in collaborating with others and their ability to contribute effectively to a team project.
“In my previous role, I participated in a cross-functional team project to launch a new product. My role involved conducting market research, analyzing customer feedback, and coordinating with the product development team. Through effective collaboration and utilizing each team member’s expertise, we successfully launched the product, exceeding sales targets by 20% in the first quarter.”
2. Describe a time you had to gather input from employees outside your team. How did you approach them, and how did you ensure you’d get information on time?
This question assesses a candidate’s ability to engage with colleagues from different teams, seek their input, and effectively manage communication to accomplish project goals.
“In a recent project, I needed input from the engineering team to develop a new feature. I approached them by scheduling a meeting to discuss the project’s objectives and the information I needed. To ensure timely responses, I provided a clear timeline and emphasized the importance of their input. By maintaining open communication channels and following up on deadlines, I received the necessary information on time, enabling the successful completion of the project.”
3. Tell me about a time you had to work with a colleague you didn’t get along with.
This question explores a candidate’s ability to handle challenging interpersonal dynamics and find effective ways to collaborate despite differences.
“In a previous role, I had to work closely with a colleague with whom I initially had conflicting personalities. To overcome this challenge, I made an effort to understand their perspective and find common ground. We scheduled regular check-ins to discuss project updates, shared our ideas openly, and actively sought areas where our skills complemented each other. Over time, our working relationship improved, and we were able to deliver successful outcomes together.”
4. Has your team ever failed to reach a goal? If so, what went wrong, and what did you learn from that experience?
This question assesses a candidate’s ability to reflect on past failures, identify areas for improvement, and demonstrate a growth mindset.
“Yes, in a previous project, our team faced challenges that resulted in not meeting our goal within the given timeframe. Upon reflection, we identified poor communication as a key factor. We realized that we needed to establish clearer lines of communication, set realistic expectations, and improve our coordination. This experience taught me the importance of proactive communication, regular progress assessments, and swift problem-solving to avoid similar setbacks in the future.”
5. What would you do if your team didn’t want to implement your idea?
This question evaluates a candidate’s flexibility, adaptability, and ability to navigate disagreements while maintaining a collaborative approach.
“If my team didn’t want to implement my idea, I would first seek to understand their concerns and perspectives. I believe in open dialogue and active listening to identify potential obstacles and find common ground. I would present a compelling case for my idea, considering their feedback and incorporating any necessary adjustments. Ultimately, if the team consensus leaned against my idea, I would respect their decision and focus on finding alternative solutions that align with our collective goals.”
6. What’s your preferred way of working on a group project: each member works on an assigned task independently, or the entire team meets and works together? Why?
This question examines a candidate’s preference for collaboration styles and their ability to adapt to different team dynamics.
“I believe that a combination of both approaches is valuable, depending on the project’s requirements. In the initial stages, it’s beneficial for each team member to work independently on their assigned tasks to leverage their expertise and generate diverse ideas. However, as the project progresses, collaborative team meetings are essential to share progress, brainstorm collectively, and ensure alignment. This approach maximizes individual contributions while fostering a cohesive team environment.”
7. How would you onboard a new team member?
This question assesses a candidate’s ability to integrate new members into a team, promote effective communication, and facilitate a smooth transition.
“When onboarding a new team member, I would start by providing a warm welcome, introducing them to each team member, and providing an overview of our projects and processes. I would ensure they have access to relevant documentation, schedule one-on-one meetings with team members to establish connections, and pair them with a mentor to facilitate their learning and integration. Regular check-ins and open communication channels would be maintained to address any questions or concerns they may have.”
8. What’s the best way to give credit to an employee for their good work?
This question explores a candidate’s ability to recognize and appreciate team members’ contributions, fostering a positive work environment.
“I believe in openly acknowledging and celebrating team members’ achievements. When a colleague performs exceptionally well, I would publicly recognize their efforts during team meetings, share their accomplishments with higher management, and express gratitude for their contributions. Additionally, I encourage team members to appreciate each other’s work through peer recognition programs or informal expressions of gratitude. Creating a culture of recognition and appreciation strengthens teamwork and motivates individuals to strive for excellence.”
9. What work habits promote team spirit? (e.g., regular meetings, cross-departmental projects, team-bonding activities)
This question assesses a candidate’s understanding of work habits that foster a positive team environment and their ability to contribute to building team spirit.
“Several work habits promote team spirit, such as conducting regular team meetings to share updates, align goals, and encourage open communication. Cross-departmental projects provide opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing, fostering a sense of unity across the organization. Team-bonding activities, whether virtual or in-person, can strengthen relationships and create a positive work atmosphere. Additionally, establishing clear channels for feedback and empowering team members to contribute their ideas can enhance team spirit and engagement.”
10. How would you approach a disengaged employee who tanks the team’s productivity?
This question evaluates a candidate’s ability to address and resolve conflicts within a team, promoting productivity and cohesion.
“When dealing with a disengaged team member, I would approach them with empathy and seek to understand the underlying reasons for their disengagement. I would schedule a one-on-one conversation to listen to their concerns and provide support. By addressing their needs, discussing any challenges they might be facing, and exploring potential solutions together, I aim to re-engage them and help them rediscover their motivation. Additionally, I would encourage open and honest communication within the team, fostering a culture of feedback and continuous improvement.”
Why assess teamwork in interviews
Teamwork skills are key in all positions. Some employees might work on their own occasionally (e.g. a developer who debugs a program), but the results of their work impact their entire team.
Good team players:
- Resolve issues before they escalate
- Nurture healthy work environments
- Understand each person’s unique strengths
- Accept feedback and try to improve their work
Depending on the company and the position, teamwork might mean something different. Teamwork is when:
How to identify team players in interviews
- Candidates’ past experiences will give you a good idea of how they behave on a team. What’s their role in group projects? How do they share information and express their ideas? How do they react during conflicts?
- Look for people who own their accomplishments and also acknowledge their coworkers’ contributions. Ask candidates to describe what they achieved through teamwork.
- Employees with solid communication skills are more efficient in team environments. They’re likely to avoid sending multiple back-and-forth emails to explain or arrange something.
- Entry-level candidates might struggle with providing examples of teamwork skills in a professional setting. College work, internships or extracurricular activities can also show you how candidates behave on a team.
- It’s a good sign if potential hires want to learn more about their future team. Questions about the structure of the department show that candidates want to picture themselves as part of the team.
- Using “I” a lot. Do your candidates start every sentence with “I,” even when they’re describing a team project? This might be a sign that they prefer working independently, instead of a group setting.
- Generic answers. Most candidates will claim they’re good team players. But, if they can’t support their argument with real examples, they might be simply trying to say the right thing, without being honest.
- Arrogant attitude. Bossy behavior is a red flag for teamwork. “Know-it-all” employees don’t value other people’s opinions and ideas and usually don’t take criticism well.
- Putting the blame on others. Candidates who bad-mouth prior employers and coworkers are less likely to form healthy work relationships. Good collaboration is based on compromise and mutual respect.
- Trust issues. People who want to double-check everyone’s work tank the team’s productivity, as they slow down all processes. Senior managers, in particular, who don’t trust their team members and don’t let them take any initiative risk damaging the team’s synergy.