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Regardless of their role, no employee works alone, or in a vacuum. Even in the most technical jobs, the ability to effectively interact with team members is essential to success. There will always be colleagues who need to know the status of tasks or projects and, in general, what’s going on.

While teamwork skills are just as important as the abilities, experience and education required for a role, they may not be as easy to identify – unless you dive below the surface, ask the right questions, and really get to know a candidate.

What to Look For

Every interview should include a thorough assessment of a candidate’s interpersonal and teamwork strengths. Your goal is to identify how well an individual works as part of either a departmental or cross-functional group.

  • Gauge a person’s level of self awareness. Can a candidate make a connection between their actions and overall team outcomes? Look for good instincts. This indicates that a person takes an empathetic, optimistic and team-oriented approach to their work.
  • Seek signs that a candidate thrives on teamwork. If they frequently use terms such as, “We accomplished this goal …” versus “I did this …” it’s a good sign. A team-oriented person naturally shares credit.
  • Listen for a person describing effective results achieved through collaboration. This enables you to learn what an individual believes about why teams succeed. Will your work environment and culture mesh with their values? In addition, you’ll hear what kind of support and resources a person thinks a successful team needs.

What to Ask

Open-ended questions are powerful in gauging teamwork skills, as they lead to further discussion.  They can also help you ensure the right cultural match. Here are some samples:

  • Based on your experience, what actions and support make a team successful?
  • Share an example of a situation where teamwork enhanced your ability to achieve your goal.
  • Have you ever worked with a difficult team member? Share this experience, and tell me what you did to resolve the situation and encourage ongoing progress.
  • Do you feel more energized working alone, or as part of a team? Why?
  • Have you been a member of a team that struggled or failed to accomplish its goal? What assessment do you make of the reasons for the shortfall?
  • Have you ever worked with a virtual team? If so, what special dynamics and actions did this require? How did you create team cohesiveness in a virtual setting?
  • Have you successfully managed a team? How did you build the group’s sense of collaboration so you could achieve success?

For additional tips and resources for interviewing success, turn to the PrideStaff Modesto team of hiring experts. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.

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