Talking about team work in interviews

talking about team work in interview

Team work makes the dream work (so they say!) you’ll be put it in teams for different things in school, work,family life and sports & hobbies. It might be a huge project it might be organising a birthday party but working with a group of people will be a requirement many times in your life.

You might not always know the team of people you work with and you might not get to choose your role but you can read all about team work and the roles people play in our previous Young Professional challenges here:

Team work in work

Employers often ask you about your team working skills in application forms and in interviews. Why? Because being a team player is important, having an employee that can assume different roles and work with different people is a really valuable member of staff to have.

Preparation:

Before and interview or before completing an online application it is useful to keep the job specification in mind, re read the spec and think about the tasks and activities being described. Does it talk about working in a small team? a fast-paced dynamic team? A global team? The team work examples and skills you want to give should change depending on the role.

A fast paced dynamic team might mean you have to be really organised and communicate with the team often to make sure nothing is falling through the cracks.

A global team might mean you have to work across different time zones and be ready to take the lead on decisions when the rest of the team are asleep!

Example questions:

Whether in interviews or on application forms you need to consider the question carefully just spouting examples of when you were in a team isn’t what they are looking for. Employers might layer questions they might ask about your communication in a team work environment, they might ask about a challenging time in a group work situation (problem solving anyone!)

Your first task is decoding the question (never be afraid to re-read the question or ask for it to be repeated) what are they really asking?

You might get asked general questions on team work (sometimes referred to as behavioural):

  • Tell me about a time you had to work in a team
  • Do you prefer working independently (alone) or as part of a team?
  • What experience have you had working as a team?

Or about specific circumstances (sometimes referred to as situational)

  • Tell me about a time when you worked with a difficult team member?
  • How do you stay motivated when working in a team?
  • Tell me about a time you had to work in a team to meet a deadline
  • Tell me about a time where you have had to lead a team
  • Tell me about a time that you were part of a team that failed

It is important to structure your answer to any interview questions but in team work examples you are explaining so many factors which makes it even more important!

Some top tips:

  • Be honest! Don’t invent situations to make it sound as though you have had more experience. Don’t pretend you naturally lead a team if you don’t.
  • Make it relevant: keep the job spec in mind and think about the most relevant

The STARRS Method:

STARRS stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result, Reflection, Strengthen

SITUATION

  • Explain the situation you were in

TASK

  • What did you do, and what did the task or role involve?
  • Make sure you highlight your roles and responsibilities

ACTION

  • What did YOU do to meet the objective of/complete the task?
  • You might want to cover what you did and how you did it, including what skills you used.
  • An interviewer is looking for how you assessed and decided what was the appropriate response to the situation, and how you got the other team members involved – which in turn is a great way to demonstrate your communication skills.

RESULT

  • What was the outcome?
  • Did you make a difference?
  • Can you quantify this?

REFLECTION

  • What did you do well?
  • What didn’t go as well as you’d hoped?

STRENGTHEN

  • After reflection, what would you have done differently?
  • What could have been improved to achieve an even greater success?

Keeping track of the good stuff:

There is no better time than right now with keeping a note of your team work skills and achievements – your best example of dealing with a tricky situation might have happened three months ago – wouldn’t it be great if you had written it down at the time to really remember the detail? Life gets busy but if you think about how important these skills are you might consider keeping a folder of notes on your computer, phone or notepad! A skills journal to support your young professional? Now there’s an idea….!

The challenge:

Using the STARRS method describe:

  • A time you worked in a team
  • A time you led a team
  • A time when you worked with a difficult team member, and what you did to overcome the difficulties that arose.
  • A time where your team failed

You can use examples from work, home-life, school or hobbies & sports teams.

Oh and for an extra gold star start working out how you can keep track of the good stuff in your own skills journey

 

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