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Tips to Answer "Are You a Team Player?" in an Job Interview

Team work is an integral part of any work place, in any industry. One of the most important traits that interviewers look for in their possible candidates is their ability to work in a team. And hence this is probably the most favorite of the questions in any interview and answering it correctly and in the right manner will easily ensure that you succeed in the venture.

There are three things that the interviewer will look for in your answer.

  1. Your communication skills with others.
  2. Your ability to empathize and understand what others are trying to convey.
  3. Appreciating the efforts and contribution made by others.

These three components have to be part of your answer in such a way that it is not too obvious and yet make sure that you make your point clearly.

What is the Expectation?

While the above question can be easily answered with a simple Yes/No, a winning answer will ensure that all the above mentioned components are embed in it. If you do stick to the close ended answer, then you will find the interviewer probing further on the topic by asking your specific traits as a team player and what team work means to you. Instead it would be better for you to answer it in the first place in detail to avoid the latter questions.

What you need to understand here is that when there is a team and there is an accomplishment, the credit goes to the entire team. However, not all the team members would have done the same amount of work. Some would have performed more and some would have done comparatively lesser. The question here is to probe on how you will deal with the different players in the team, the high performers and the low performers. Understanding the crux of the question will help you to answer it better.

What is the Best Approach?

The approach will vary based on whether you are an experienced candidate or an entry level candidate.

Experienced Candidate

If you are an experienced candidate, then you may want to touch upon an experience you have had in your previous work place where you came out as a team player. This has to come out showing your abilities as a manager. An answer example would be:

“Yes. An example would be the project we worked in our current team which comprises of people from diverse backgrounds and skills. We had to accomplish something which we could not have done alone. It was important that we interact with each other, share our results, our viewpoints, consider the unified progress and make our way towards the end goal. What I would really like to cite is the adhoc meets that the team members had with each other apart from the weekly status update meetings. This was a place where people shared their knowledge so that others can learn from them and move forward. The team stayed constantly in touch with each other working towards a common goal, helping each other on the way. The result was that we did not just complete the project but we did it in record time and in a more cost efficient manner. Based on my role in the entire project, I have been chosen as the lead for the upcoming one.”

Fresh Candidate

If you are an entry level candidate, you can quote on your experience during an internship or during a project you worked in the college, etc. What you should avoid though is on any reference to anything sports related. No one wants to know your expertise on the field unless you are interviewing for that. a simple answer would be in the lines of,

Sample Answer: “I believe that a team can be more productive than an individual. And I have the ability to listen, compromise and respect others’ views, which would make me a good addition to a team. I can take on the role of a leader or a team player as the situation would demand of me.”

Another important point to remember is that you should not come off as over smart. Do not praise yourself when you are speaking about team work as it would not be taken lightly. You need to highlight the work you have done as a team and not refer to your individual contribution all the time.

It is the expectation of the interviewer that you state what is really required in a team environment, how you would appreciate others’ efforts and how you would contribute. Keep your answer simple and clear and you will be moving on to the next level with ease.