Assess Your Candidate’s Teamwork Skills: Sample Interview Questions

November 23rd, 2012

The position you’re offering will require tenacity, industry knowledge, public speaking savvy, basic math skills, and a willingness to travel. But more than any of these things, this position demands a strong sense of teamwork. Your candidate will have to spend long days head-to-head with a closely knit group of peers, solving complex problems that can’t be tackled by one person alone.

A great team player will integrate seamlessly into this job and become invaluable within a week. But a candidate who’s stuck on “lead” or “follow” mode just won’t cut it. Neither will a candidate who’s emotionally unintelligent, stubborn, or insensitive to social cues. How can you tell which candidate you’re facing when you look across the interview table? Here are few sample questions that can help you find the information you need.

Sample Interview Questions Targeting Teamwork

1. Do you prefer working with a team or working by yourself? (Give the candidate a chance to elaborate.)

2. Have you ever worked with a team that failed to meet its timeline or budget goals? What went wrong and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Tell me about a group project you completed that went well. What made the outcome a success?

4. In your opinion, what are some of the features of a great team? What kinds of factors contribute to team success? How about the members of great teams—what kinds of qualities do they share?

5. Have you ever had to work with a group that faced direct competition from another group in a different department or branch of the company? How did that go?

6. When your fellow team members outshine you or pull more than their share of the load, how do you usually react?

You don’t have to ask every one of these questions, of course. But after each question you choose to ask, allow the candidate to speak for a while in an open-ended way and glean what you can from her words. Listen to the way she speaks of her teammates, her competitors, and her own contributions.

For even more reliable insight, offer group interviews instead of just one-on-one interactions between yourself and each candidate. A group setting can provide a real life demonstration of how your applicant interacts with others. Meanwhile, reach out to the NC staffing experts at PSU for additional questions that can help you assess a range of candidate skill sets, from self-direction to leadership to resourcefulness.

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