The interviewer wants to know how you overcome challenges in a team environment. They want to see that you persevere, despite being faced with teamwork challenges. Give an example of a time when communication became an issue; perhaps due to personality differences or a misunderstanding when it came to the scope of the project. Be sure to express to the interviewer how the communication issues affected the team, and how you overcame those communication challenges.
"I recently worked on a team project focused on our business growth analysis. Each person on the team was asked to analyze a different set of data. In the end, we came together to discuss the results but couldn't seem to agree. We were struggling to listen to each person's opinion on their findings. I suggested we give each person a chance to talk through their findings, uninterrupted. It seemed to help us, but I did learn that there can be major challenges when a team has many aggressive personalities."
"The last team project I was a part of had a rocky start because some people were not receiving all of the required updates. I implemented the use of a project management app that allowed us to communicate all project changes and updates in one place. The solution was constructive, and we now use this app for all group-based projects."
"My team is made up of many personalities, which means that communication often suffers. We have over-communicators, brief communicators, and everyone in-between! The last project, our differences were very prevalent, so I held a team meeting, outlining a communication schedule which offered a happy medium. This schedule worked very well, and I will be implementing it for future projects."
"Our current team has a variety of skilled creatives. We work very well together, but sometimes we butt heads when it comes to our idea of what is most important in a project. I had recently completed coursework in video and how it ranks on all social platforms. I firmly believe the future is video but my project counterpart did not agree. This co-worker had the idea of old YouTube videos stuck in her mind and just couldn't envision what I saw. I had to show her a lot of examples of new video before she finally agreed. Everything worked out in the end, but it did waste a lot of precious time to have to bring her around to the idea."
"We were recently sent a new planogram for our store, and it was quite a big overhaul. We had two team leads who were arguing about how to approach merchandising the store without disturbing customer flow. Neither option was ideal, so I suggested that we stay late that day, after hours, to get the job done without disturbance. They agreed, and we were able to get a few other overtime hours volunteers to make it happen. Sometimes bringing an outsider into a project can cast a fresh light."
"Team projects are rare in my current position, so when we do have one, they can be awkward at best. We have a lot of alpha personalities on our team as well. Last month we were asked to collaborate with everyone in our territory on a new product launch. The company wanted us to come up with a new sales script that made everyone comfortable. Being as everyone has their communication style, the request was a disaster. I called my director and asked that we take the base script and each make it our own, in a way that worked for us. He agreed, and we all took a more independent approach."
"I put my class into groups of 4 students, for a specific social studies project. What I did not account for when creating the groups were the primary strengths of each student. I just chose at random. It was a challenge to get the kids to work cohesively together as one group didn't have a leader-type personality, another had three leader-types, and so on. Lesson learned! Next time, I will more carefully select the groups."
We all experience perceived fails in our career. Failure is nothing to be embarrassed about so do not hesitate to describe a failure you've experienced in the past. The key to a great answer is to include how you learned from that failure, and how you improved your work performance after learning from the crash. Try to keep your example non-critical; for instance, avoid telling the interviewer how your team forgot to order new inventory, and it cost your company $15,000 in lost sales. Avoid blaming any particular person and instead, use words like 'we' and 'team' to describe the situation. Finally, be sure to tell the interviewer that, while you were very disappointed in the group's failure, you took the opportunity to learn from the experience.
"Our team was recently on a project with a very tight deadline. We knew the client and their needs very well which I believe made us go into the project overconfident. Because we underestimated the work involved, we missed our deadline by three business days. Thankfully we had a great relationship with that particular client, so we were able to recover from the missed deadline. Although it was late, we worked overtime and delivered an exceptional project, in the end. This experience taught me never to underestimate a project and the potential roadblocks. It's always better to under-promise and over-deliver, rather than the other way around."
"In University, we had a group project that failed horribly. We could not seem to organize our schedules at all, and so, when we brought all of the components together, it was a complete flop. I learned shortly after about some project management apps that could have helped. Also, we could have utilized other resources like Skype. This experience taught me never to think small, and that there is always a solution - you have to look for it."
"In my current position, our team was given a new client who needed us to recruit five employees. They were very specialized roles, and the client was not open to candidates who needed relocation assistance. Our competitor ended up finding the right candidates before we could. It was disappointing, and I believe that we failed because we were looking too much at the roadblocks rather than thinking creatively. We learned from our mistake and our team was more aggressive with our next project."
"I once worked for a startup marketing agency that bit off more than it could chew after acquiring a huge client. We had to learn a lot of solutions on the fly, which caused a great deal of stress amongst the team, which was primarily made up of junior marketers, and new hires. Nobody had the seniority or tenure to feel confident taking control of the situation. What I learned from this experience is that every project should have a wide range of people present, with varying levels of experience and expertise."
"Our store came up with a unique window display that we all thought was cool. After having the display up for a couple of days, we started receiving complaints that the message was misogynistic and insensitive. Once our team took a step back and considered the feedback, we could see what others were seeing. What I learned at that moment was that, before finalizing a project, it's important to take a step back from it and dissect it for potential problems."
"Our company recently launched a software solution for our clients that was too early-stage and should have gone through further testing. We were all so excited about the project, and created so much hype with our clients, that our excitement caused us to get ahead of ourselves. What I learned was that, no matter how exciting, a business always needs to remain level-headed and pragmatic."
"We recently had a school play go awry. The faculty wanted to put on a winter performance for the parents, and we tried to make it too comprehensive and eventful. What we should have done was focus on a couple of entertaining aspects and kept the rest simple. The kids were overwhelmed and confused, as were the teachers and attendees! We all vowed to keep it simple for the following year."
This question is not a trick one! The interviewer is trying to get a feel for your personality and how you interact with others. You may work well without the need for much management or direction, or perhaps you are better driven by a collaborative and team led environment. Either way, be honest with the interviewer about your preferences without leaning negatively, either way.
"Whether I am doing an independent project, or working in a team environment, I always give my best. I enjoy the camaraderie of working in a team, but I can be successful working autonomously as well."
"Most of my recent administration experience has been independently focused so I would welcome the support of working in a team environment."
"I like managing a team, so if I had to pick one over the other, I would say that working as part of a team would be my preference. With that said, I can complete projects independently as needed."
"As a content marketer, I have a good blend of independent and teamwork experience. When it comes to strategy for a new project, I love working in a team environment. Once it comes to the final details of the content or copy, I prefer to work in a quieter, more focused environment."
"All I have known is working on a team, in a retail environment. I am self-disciplined and am confident that I could thrive in an independent work setting as well."
"I work on the road a lot, and by myself most often. When it's time to collaborate with my sales assistant or director, I find that I crave the camaraderie. I would like a position that offers a bit more teamwork than I currently have."
"I can thrive in a team-based situation as well as independently. When it comes to finalizing my class work or marking, I do prefer to go it alone. Otherwise, team collaboration is very welcome!"
If you have ever participated in a ropes course or a trust fall, then you have engaged in team building exercises! Of course, most examples of team-building do not need to be that extreme. Any activity or company effort that motivates teams and builds trust among co-workers is considered a team-building exercise. Many companies will offer team experiences to help build stable groups who collaborate and communicate better. If you have experience as a participant or leader, share your knowledge and be sure to highlight your biggest takeaway from experience.
"My company holds a company-wide retreat every Christmas season, and I have participated the past three years. We usually take a weekend to go to a resort that offers exercises such as trail riding, mountain climbing, and zip lining. It helps everyone to share some great laughs, and sometimes - even our fears. I believe that team building is a vital part of creating an environment of trust and collaboration in the workplace."
"I have never worked in an organization where team-building is a focus, but that sounds lovely! What kind of team-building activities have you done in the past?"
"I initiate a few team building events per year with my team. Sometimes it's a family potluck or picnic in a park, other times, its a group volunteer effort at the soup kitchen. We do a lot together as a group. It's important for bonding."
"Team building activities in our office are always hilarious because we have such a funny and expressive group of people. One time, we built an entire obstacle course out of office supplies, and everyone had to participate. We had awards and all. I believe these small things are what makes an employee engaged in their job, even on the toughest of days."
"Our store often has small in-store competitions geared to sales or gaining repeat business. These fun little competitions will often have a small prize attached like a Starbucks gift card, for instance. These activities are fun and get us helping each other succeed, as well."
"Our company recently went on a President Club trip to Mexico. We had a few sessions to attend that focused on teamwork and customer engagement. It was a motivating trip and my sales numbers increased by 15% that following month!"
"We have a few professional development days per year where our entire faculty will attend courses and workshops. Much of the work is independent, but some of it is group based as well. It's nice to collaborate with my team outside of our regular workday."
The interviewer wants to know that you are eager when starting a new team project, but insightful when it comes to your approach. Discuss with the interviewer some of the questions you may bring up when taking on a new project. Some possible options might include: - "What is the biggest challenge you foresee on this project?" - "What are the top 3 roadblocks holding this project back right now?" - "What time expectations do you have for the project?" Show the interviewer that you come to the start of a project prepared with insightful questions.
"What is the biggest challenge you foresee on this project?"
"I am more of the type to go with the flow for the first day on a new team project. I want to observe the work habits of others and come into the team with some insight before jumping in with both feet."
"The first question that I would ask is, who is working on this project, and what are each of their strengths and areas for improvement. Once I understand who I am working with, I will better understand my approach to the project."
"My initial questions would be surrounding the client who we are working for, and what their end goal is. My favorite questions to ask are, "What are you hoping to gain from this project?", "What is your business' most significant pain point right now?", and "What part of this project is the most urgent for you?" These questions help me to assess how I should be approaching a project."
"Before beginning my work on a team-based project, I would ask you questions about the other team members. I would ask how long each person has worked for your company, what their role is, and what they are best known for doing well. This way, I can join the team in a manner that compliments them, without stepping on any toes as the 'new guy.'"
"If you put me on a team project today, which I would love, by the way, I would first ask you what you are hoping to achieve when it comes to the end goal. To know your motivation, be it financial, customer service, or researched base, would be beneficial information."
"I believe that the best question for me to ask when starting on a team project, would be "What do you expect to be the biggest roadblock to my success?" By being aware of any specific roadblocks, I can focus on the areas perceived to be the most challenging. Sort of like a preemptive strike."
One of the ways you can show maturity and leadership in the workplace is by taking the initiative to build a healthy relationship with whoever is directly supervising you. If you experience conflict with a manager, you will know how to respond because you have already established a real-life example. Give an honest example of a time when you supported your manager despite a difference of opinion.
"I had an issue with my manager a few years ago because we disagreed on the course of action to take on a project that was going sideways. The discussion started to heat up, so I quickly let her know that I thought it was best we think about our course of action overnight, and book a formal meeting to discuss the challenges. We scheduled a meeting for the following day and were able to resolve the issue. In the end, she told me she appreciated my conflict management skills, my professional awareness and personal maturity surrounding the situation."
"I have worked for challenging personalities in the past. When this occurs, I remind myself that it is not personal. So long as I feel that my opinion matters, whether used or not, then I am entirely okay and can get along fine. I don't need to be right, but I do want to know that my voice matters."
"I have had challenging managers in the past, and I am sure that I have been the challenging manager in my career as well! Not everyone will get along or agree 100% of the time, but that's good for business. Even leaders need to be respectfully challenged from time to time. It's the approach that matters. If I do not agree, I need to be ready to state my case, with facts, and leave emotion out of it."
"Luckily, I have had some amazing bosses so far! I did have a professor that I bumped heads with a bit when completing my Marketing degree. I felt that some of his comments on my work were not helpful so I went back to him numerous times to seek out more detailed feedback. It wasn't that I disagreed with the feedback, I just needed more background on his opinion, than he was often willing to provide."
"I had a previous manager who was always late. She was the keyholder, and it would be so embarrassing when we had customers waiting outside, and she would arrive 10 minutes past our opening time. I expressed to her a few times how this made me feel, and she finally agreed to have a key made for me if I arrived first."
"My very first sales manager was a challenging personality and did not provide excellent training, yet expected perfection nearly immediately. Rather than take it personally, I decided to take the training manuals home and study in the evenings and weekends. This extra studying ensured that I did not need to lean on him for answers. I was determined to succeed, no matter what my managers' personality or work approach."
"At the beginning of my career, I had an Assistant Principal who was not the kindest person. She wanted a promotion and believed that the best way to achieve this was to be tough on everyone. I just stayed out of her way as much as possible, and when we did have to interact, I would take the instructions and get my work done on time. She transferred soon after I started, so it certainly was not worth causing a riff over."
You don't have to be a manager or a team leader to motivate others. Offering a listening ear or providing words of encouragement can make a world of difference to your coworkers. Sometimes, just being a positive influence and showing up to help, can also make a difference. If you have worked in a leadership role, think of ways you helped set clear goals or helped individuals cultivate a new skill. Reflect on your experience and share how you have encouraged others to keep up the good work!
"I motivate my fellow team members by coming to work with an exceptional attitude every day. I won't allow anyone's bad mood to let me down. That influence alone has helped many of my coworkers get through their day on a more positive note."
"I motivate others by complimenting their work, asking them their opinion, and making them feel like a valued part of the team."
"I motivate my team by showing them the difference that their work makes. If one of my team members has made a customer happy, I share that feedback with the team. If someone is performing above all the rest, I will point it out. Recognition is a well-received motivation factor with my team."
"My team members and I are motivated by creative breakthroughs which happen when we are not tied to an idea or rigorous process. We motivate each other by actively participating in brainstorms and whiteboard sessions, never shutting down an idea, rather building upon it."
"I motivate my team members through kind words. If someone lost a sale or isn't having the best week, I will remind them of a day when they completely kicked butt. Words like that will often give someone the energy they need to succeed. I know it works for me!"
"My team members and I motivate each other through our friendly competition! We all love a bit of fire under us to get going and knowing that someone else is succeeding, makes the rest of us want to succeed too! We send kudos emails when a big sale is closed and help others with negotiations when they have a tough client to close."
"I motivate through being kind and lending a hand. I look for opportunities to make someone's day a little bit better, especially when they seem down or not their usual self."
It can be difficult to make challenging decisions when you know that your entire team will be affected. Your ability to be decisive and diplomatic will make all the difference! If you take a more team-oriented approach, share how you collaborate with the group by inviting everyone to discuss their opinions and come to a census. Perhaps you prefer to take charge. Share how you step up to a decision while still keeping everyone's needs and feelings into consideration.
"Leaders are truly set apart by their ability to make tough decisions respectfully and diplomatically. Last year we had to lay off 25% of our sales team. I knew that there would be feelings hurt and it was tough to do. I got through it by reminding myself that I am the leader for a reason. I needed to trust my judgment but still be able to justify my decisions in the end. Many times when tough choices are in front of me, I will back up my gut feeling with data. If the data supports my intuition, I know what the answer or decision needs to be."
"I believe that when you are working with a team, it is important to bring any questions or situations to the team before making a decision. Everyone should have input; however, the leader needs to be able to pull the trigger on all decisions in the end."
"When I need to make a tough decision that affects others, I will call a meeting with my mentor. I believe it is crucial for every leader to have a wise voice, someone senior to them, that they can rely on."
"If there is a decision in my hands, that will affect my entire team, I will make pros and cons list, and also ask myself, 'Has this situation happened before?' I will look at past experiences and similar decisions so that I can learn from them and create a unique solution from there."
"When there is a very challenging decision at hand, I will involve my team and ask them what their preference may be, and see if they can brainstorm with me to come up with a solution that works best for all parties."
"No one person should have to make decisions that directly affect the livelihood of others. Almost all of the decisions that I make as a sales manager are collective with other managers, my director, or a mentor that I trust."
"Many times, I am tasked with making a decision that affects my students. I rely on my teaching history, and previous data to help me make decisions. I will often go with a version of something that has worked in the past."
When cooperating with groups of people from different backgrounds and various work styles, conflict is inevitable. Think of an example of when your team experienced a conflict. Be sure to highlight how you skillfully handled these conflict issues.
"One of the employees on my team was due to present at an industry conference, but he fell behind and couldn't put everything together in time. Everyone on our team was disappointed in his lack of commitment, and many people were upset with him. I was not scheduled to present, but I stepped in to cover for him. This situation meant I had to rearrange my schedule, cancel meetings and postpone a lunch event, but my company needed this presentation to be successful. I will always go above and beyond for my team, even when it isn't the most convenient."
"My previous company went through a merger last year, and the amount of tension amongst the team was quite extreme. People did not know if they were going to lose their jobs, get their year-end bonus' and more. Everyone was sharp with each other, but I chose to take the kindness route. I was a friendly face through it all and kept a positive outlook. I know that I did my part to help the negativity."
"Two of my team members were in a feud over a process that they were both misinterpreting. Normally, I do not get involved in the smaller conflicts as I believe that grown adults can iron things out without mediation, for the most part. This event was different. I called a meeting between the three of us and let them know they were both incorrect. They were a bit embarrassed about the whole event and allowed me to re-train them in the process, the correct way."
"We have two content writers with very different styles. They are both very talented, but their techniques often don't work well within the same campaign. They were recently forced to work together on a significant campaign we had on the go. They ended up in a huge fight, insulting each others' writing style, and more. I jumped in and mediated the situation, complementing them on their methods, and suggesting ways that their techniques could complement each other. I think that seeing the possibilities through the eyes of an outsider was helpful to them and they delivered a fantastic product."
"We recently had two employees fighting over a customer. One associated insisted they greeted them first and the other insisted they did not poach. To solve the issue, I split the commission between the two of them. Neither was happy about the situation, but it made them more aware, moving forward, of the whereabouts of their customer."
"Salespeople can sometimes be a bit ego driven because we are competitive by nature. I had a couple of sales reps who were arguing over which territory a certain client belonged. The client had an office in each of their territories, so they both wanted the client. I suggested that the sales rep who had the company's HQ in their territory should take both offices. Problem solved!"
"We have a pretty cohesive faculty, so arguments don't happen in our team. If a situation between colleagues were to occur, I would be the mediator by nature. I am a calm person and can think outside the box when it comes to problem-solving."
The interviewer would like to see that you can adapt to working in a team environment, where difficulties may be present. Pick a recent team project that generated successful results but was an overall challenge. Give the interviewer a short overview of the project, including what the final goal of the project was. Next, share the challenges your group faced. Avoid criticizing any individuals in the group. Discuss how you rose to the occasion by coming up with alternate solutions whenever you met a roadblock.
"During the fourth week a construction project, we learned about the discontinued status of the materials we were planning to use. We faced ordering challenges, team members blaming one another, and a tight budget. As a team, we identified the problem, assigned roles, and got the job done. The stress of the situation forced us all to sit down and work it out together. We had a lot of great feedback for one another and built stronger relationships from this experience. Ever since that project, our team has worked much better as a group."
"As an administrative assistant, I work independently for the majority of my day. I find that my most challenging team collaborations come when I am arranging a variety of vendors for special events. My secret comes in the form of organization, and speaking with patients and kindness to everyone involved."
"I recently worked with a cross-functional management team to accomplish a business growth initiative. The group contained members of different functions who all saw things differently. We came together to share a common vision and let that guide our work. To prevent miscommunication, we created a KPI tracker and scoreboard for the work to be done and the members responsible."
"I was assigned to a project team where I was the sole content marketing expert for a project to improve our Google analytics. The challenges I faced were explaining the current plan's shortcomings while getting the team to see my vision and get on board with it."
"My job is one big exercise in collaboration and teamwork! I know that I have to rely on my coworkers to be the sales professional that I can be, and they need me to be on the top of my game for them to be their best. We cannot achieve anything alone: we have to work collaboratively and split tasks to have the department hit targets and exceed goals."
"At Company ABC, I worked with the product team to develop new user features. My role was not only to inform what functionality my sales prospects and clients were asking for but also to get clients on board as beta product testers. The challenge arose when the clients' expectations and desires did not match our functionality. Through clear communication and laying out the different phases for future states of the desired product, we were able to meet the client's needs and develop a functional feature."
"I feel the best example of a collaborative team environment is our curriculum development. About half of the department collaborates to revamp all lesson plans, asking questions such as, 'Do we need to update vocabulary?' One funny example was when a coworker did not want to update the unit to delete words like "cassette tape," "VHS," and "tape recorder." In 2018, students don't even know what these things are- it's useless to spend time teaching these words. We spent four weeks negotiating what units to keep, what to revamp, and what units to add. It truly takes a lot of patience, collaboration, and compromise to reach a new set of curriculum standards and goals across the department."
Your job may be independent by nature, but at some point in your career or post-secondary experience, you have worked as part of a team. Give the interviewer an example of a time when you worked in a group setting. Outline the role that you took in the group and remember to discuss a bit about the project. Highlight your most significant success in this team. Lastly, explain how your teamwork capabilities will help you to succeed in this role.
"In my current position we all work as a group during year-end. Everyone pulls a few overtime shifts, and we organize our books together. In these instances, I am the planner of the group, so I establish our process, and we go from there. Most of my daily work is quite independent, so it's nice to have this team experience once in a while, and I look forward to furthering teamwork experiences with your organization. I can easily take the lead when it comes to keeping the group organized."
"I volunteer at the animal shelter on weekends which requires a great amount of teamwork, especially when we have open houses. The public will come and check out the animals, and hopefully put in applications for adoption. We need to ensure the animals are all clean, happy, and ready to be adopted! This end-goal means we must maintain a positive attitude, making the experience great for the people who come in. I will bring this same excitement and positivity to any team-based activity at Company ABC."
"I have led a team of 2 - 40 employees for the past ten years, so my team-based experience is vast. Currently, my team of 40 includes production operators, quality assurance techs, and general laborers. I ensure the team works cohesively by offering an open-door policy and spending a great deal of my day on the floor, observing and helping. My hands-on approach will be helpful in your environment as well since you mentioned your need to improve morale on the production floor."
"Marketing is very team-based, which I appreciate. In my current role, when we take on a new client, we meet as a group to whiteboard ideas. Once we have an action plan, we split and get our work done independently. Starting a project as a group effort is an excellent way to boost morale and create collaborative co-worker relationships. I look forward to collaborating with your talented team."
"In my current position, we work as a team when receiving new merchandise. We have one person unpacking the stock, another yelling out SKU numbers, another member cross-checking those SKU's with our online inventory system, and two others hanging and steaming the new product. This project is done, of course, after the store has closed for the day. The system is seamless, and I look forward to introducing this system to the team here at Company ABC."
"My current team is small - just myself, and my sales assistant. We work as a team by having a call every morning to review my travel schedule, client calls, and future bookings. I believe that exceptional teamwork needs trust and clear communication, all factors that I look forward to bringing with me to your company."
"As an educator, much of what I do is independent, since I deliver lesson plans in my classroom, and do not have a TA. We do collaborate when it comes to group school activities, or field trips, however. These events are fun because they bring a more social aspect not always present at school. As a team member, I am easy going. I take the initiative and add a lot of positive energy to a situation."
You can accomplish so much more if there is excellent synergy within your team! Leveraging everyone's skills and best personality traits can encourage a group to be more effective than ever. Share an example that demonstrates your understanding of teamwork. Some factors that make the team successful are: - Cohesive personalities - Varying skills - Varying experience levels - Professional communication - Mutual respect - Brainstorm sessions - Clear role identity
"This past year, our department came in under budget for the first time in 8 years. I believe that we achieved this through building an incredibly communicative and collaborative environment throughout the year. When everyone works together for a common goal, great things can happen!"
"I am currently working on a client project that has been very successful within our team of 6. We set clear goals and forms of communication right from the start, and it's been a big success so far."
"This year we made a team goal of 10,000 safety hours. We had come close in the past, at 8,000 but this was an exciting new stretch goal. We created a safety mantra that everyone signed. This extra attention to safety and a unified front has made a big difference and made our stretch goal exciting. I have a surprise reward for the team when we hit 10K hours."
"In our marketing department, we made the goal of reaching 100 happy customers in 90 days. This goal meant acquiring a 5-star rating from 100 customers in a row! We all worked extra diligently, and I believe we were successful because we knew it would put our agency on a different service level than our competitors, enhancing all of our portfolios at the same time."
"Our latest team goal was to be the most profitable store for January, one of the notoriously slow months of the year. We have fifteen stores, across the USA and ours is one of the smaller locations, so we knew we needed to hustle. We closed out the month, #2 in the company which, although we didn't reach #1, was an amazing feat considering we usually sat in the #8 spot. I believe we were able to make this happen because we all have energetic personalities, we encouraged each other, and remained focused."
"The key to teamwork and goal-reaching in with my current team is having a clear idea of individual roles. We can all tap into our skills, which are unique from each other, and work where we know we are best suited. The latest goal we achieved was winning the President's Club award for this past year. We were the top sales team in the country. That was a proud moment."
"When we need to collaborate for the sake of curriculum development, or professional development days, I believe that our team works very well because we respect the varying levels of expertise present in our faculty. We have teachers who have been with us for one year, and are new to their career, and also teachers who are close to retirement. By honoring everyone's unique journey as an educator, we work very well together on any group task."
If you work for a larger company, you may have been asked to work on a project with teams from another department. Your ability to work with cross-functional teams will be a significant asset to your potential employer, especially if they are a larger organization. Maybe you headed a project which required you to collaborate with the members of the engineering and sales teams. You may have had the opportunity to organize a volunteer activity or team building exercise, company-wide. Share any challenges that came up and what you learned from the experience.
"Exposure to cross-functional teamwork in my current position is widespread. I believe that when expectations are communicated clearly from the beginning, a cross-functional team project can be very successful. I go into these types of projects with an understanding that everyone has their strengths and limitations based on their expertise and job function."
"I have worked in a cross-functional setting for many years. Primarily with the HR department and the Accounting department. Clear communication is key when collaborating with different teams. Clarity in expectations is of huge importance."
"Yes, I have indeed worked in many cross-functional environments. Currently, I lead the production team and collaborate with the QA folks very regularly. We all work well together to ensure an amazing product and customer satisfaction."
"When I worked for a larger agency, we collaborated across departments all the time. We had the C-suite of Marketing and Operations, then the Content and Communications department, Creative Services, and also Consumer Insights. We would meet on a weekly basis to discuss larger projects and then collaborate through the week as needed. It was a great set-up and ensured smooth progress at all project stages."
"Our current company is pretty flat, as it's a family owned business with a few retail sales associates like myself. I can certainly see how a cross-functional environment would be helpful when it comes to having different team members with their expertise."
"The sales organization which I currently work for is highly collaborative. We are a funnel focused organization, so we have our Corporate office, our Business Development Department, Account Based Department, and also our Call Center. Goals are clear, and we all understand how each department works to complement the other."
"Nearly every task that I do as an educator is in collaboration with another department. I like this because it creates a broader resource base and encourages teamwork."
The interviewer would like to hear about a time that you led a team, with a positive outcome. Showcase for the interviewer the primary factors that made your leadership style a success. Your example could come from the workplace or perhaps a time when you led a group project during your post-secondary studies.
"Just last month I was asked to lead our day shift employees when my boss was away on sick leave. I took charge for two weeks, and the experience was quite positive! I believe the biggest success factor was that I tried to emulate his leadership style and did ask his help when I wasn't sure what to do. I feel this experience prepared me for a leadership role. I am excited to take on a team lead role again."
"I work on the weekends as a volunteer coordinator for the local soup kitchen. Every Saturday morning, I check with the volunteers and ensure they are aware of their task for the day, and that they comply with our health and safety standards. Each week is a new group, and I believe that my level of detail and organization is the biggest success factor in ensuring a smooth service every weekend."
"Currently, I lead a team of 45 general laborers and the odd temporary employee. I have a minimal turnover in an otherwise tumultuous work environment. My success comes from the level of respect with which I treat everyone. I am available for questions, never raise my voice, and put a lot of trust in my team, that they will always make the right choice even when I may not be around."
"I led a team of three marketing interns this past summer which was a cool experience. I think I was so successful because, as a recent graduate myself, I understood which gaps to address in their education while keeping in mind the hands-on experience that they would need to be successful. I am observant to the needs of others and know that this skill will be very beneficial as I seek out more leadership opportunities."
"Our company had a sales contest last month, and I was asked to be our team leader for the challenge. I enjoyed that responsibility, and we ended up winning the reward in the end because my team increased sales by the highest percentage. I believe the biggest factor in our success was the enthusiasm I brought to the team. Everyone was engaged, and wanted to win."
"In my last position, I led a team of outside sales representatives. I implemented ride along's where I would shadow each team member for one day per month. This hands-on approach resulted in an average 20% sales increase per team member which made my sales director very happy. It always pays to show interest in your team members, individually, by investing time into their learning."
"I lead a team of students every day in the classroom! I am a successful educator, and class leader, because I listen, engage with my students, offer variety in each day, and show enthusiasm for the lesson at hand."
The interviewer wants to know that you can be diplomatic in the workplace, even when you may not agree with your leader. Show the interviewer that it is possible for you to be a good team member, yet disagree with the leader from time to time. Explain that you believe everyone is entitled to their own professional opinion, yet capable of maintaining respect for each other at the same time. Show that even if you disagree with the final decision they make, you support the direction the team is heading.
"I think that it is possible to be a great team member, even when disagreeing with the leader. It's all in how you maintain respect for each other despite the difference in opinion."
"Yes, I think it is possible! What makes a great team member is not that they agree with everything but the level of respect and positive thought that goes into the person's communication style. It's okay to disagree; however, you have to communicate your thoughts professionally."
"I have had team members disagree with the decisions that I have made as a manager, and it does not bother me unless they are disrespectful about the situation. I think it's great to face challenging thoughts in the workplace and I welcome varying trains of thought."
"Yes, I do believe it is possible to be a good team member, yet disagree with the leader. I have disagreed with decisions my boss has made in the past, but generally, I keep my thoughts to myself, and I know they are the leader for a reason and likely have considered factors, beyond my understanding, for their choices."
"I do wish to work with a leader with whom I agree most of the time. This agreeance doesn't have to be all of the time, but I do work best with leaders whom I understand."
"It is possible to get along with any leader, no matter a difference of opinion, so long as everyone maintains a level of respect. This respect should go both ways as well. Everyone has a different work style, and differences will always be present."
"Getting along with others is usually a choice that one makes. I can disagree with my leader but still know that they are making the decisions they feel are best for the good of the students, faculty, and school in general."
With technology taking over, and many workplaces offering more remote opportunities, the interviewer wants to know that you can build relationships - even under the absence of face-to-face interaction. Here are a few ways that you can develop trust among your team members in a virtual setting: - Building relationships: You might share how you have everyone introduce themselves, share their professional background, personal interests, and even a little about their interests in each meeting. - FaceTime or Go-To-Meeting: Talk about how you ensure that you have video conferencing capabilities. Discuss that being able to see each other, even virtually, allows you to build camaraderie and creates trust among your team. - Creating a Transparent Culture: Tell the interviewer how you open up the door for trust with your team by being an open and transparent leader or co-worker. You might share that you have open conversations about how the group will hold each other accountable. You may also share other ideas that have worked for you such as: holding one-on-one meetings with each member of the team, providing recognition for things well done, holding fun contests, or allowing team members to understand each other better by utilizing a personality assessment.
"Virtual settings can create challenges when it comes to relationship building. I have worked in a virtual setting before and found that sending quick notes of encouragement, asking for advice, and being a clear communicator are all powerful ways of developing trust among team members."
"I have not led a team of remote employees; however, I believe that the fastest way for a team of virtual employees to get to know each other would be to have a Google Hangout at least once per week. Perhaps, I would even start with asking each team member to develop an introduction video and share it with the team."
"Technology allows for so much these days, which I believe you can quickly make a connection with someone, even if you are across the world from them. I would suggest multiple contests where team members still have to collaborate, to get to the end goal."
"Relationships are built when trust needs to be established, right off the bat. If I had a team that worked remote, I would create a goal that everyone needed to work toward, attached to a tight deadline, using everyone's strengths to complement the other."
"I have worked in remote sales teams in the past and what I found worked very well were regular video calls through Go-To-Meeting. These calls worked so that everyone had a turn running the meeting, giving a presentation on an area in which they were considered a subject matter expert. This strategy established each team member as an influencer in their own right. The results were an incredible team environment, despite many of us never meeting each other in person."
"Although I have never taught or worked in a virtual setting, I can imagine the challenges would be making a personal connection with the other team members. I would suggest starting with a discovery video or questionnaire of which each person would participate. Also, developing a list of questions for us to ask each other could be helpful for discovering personalities, strengths, and overall background."
You will not always be fond of the people you are collaborating with; however, the interviewer needs to know that any inherent dislike will not affect your job performance. Keep your answer positive and focus on your ability to self-manage despite team members who may drag you down.
"I prefer to work with those who are punctual, reliable, and can take accountability for their workload. With that said, I understand that I can only be responsible for my work ethic, so I do not allow any delinquent co-workers to affect my performance."
"I can get along with a broad range of people, but I choose not to work too closely with those who possess a negative outlook. I like to see the bright side of things, even on the tough days."
"I can work with most personalities; however, I dislike working with others who do not pull their weight and expect others to pick up their slack. It's not fair to the team, and it's frustrating. When this has happened in the past, I have addressed it with the team member."
"As a seasoned manager, I understand that challenging personality types will almost always be present. What I do to combat this is, I get to know those challenging people a bit better, in hopes to understand their mentality or approach. This method of management allows me to find common ground with almost anyone."
"I certainly prefer to work with like-minded people who are go-getters and understand the meaning of hard work. It can be frustrating to work with people who have no drive or are lazy in general, but I ignore them and go about my day."
"Negative people, or those that are challenging to get through to, will be anywhere. You can put me in almost any work situation, and I will find a way to thrive! I am highly energetic which means that my positivity and enthusiasm often rubs off on even the dullest people."
"I have been an educator for eight years which means that I have come across a vast range of personalities with it comes to students, parents, and faculty. I do not particularly enjoy working with people who are bullies or try to drag other people down, but that is par for the course in any work situation. I focus on delivering positivity and encouragement to counteract those who do not think the same way as I do."
The interviewer truly wants to understand the role that you naturally take on, when put into a team-based environment. If you tend to take the lead, you can let the interviewer know, but avoid sounding overbearing. If you usually like to generate new ideas and allow someone else to execute them, share your creative side but express that you prefer for others to take the lead.
"I am usually the 'ideas person' in team projects. In my current position, I am not the most persuasive salesperson, but I am highly creative. This skill means that, in most projects, I am great at creating a plan of action but am most comfortable passing the final client-facing tasks to our more extroverted personnel."
"When it comes to team projects I do not mind taking a backseat and, rather than being the leader, being more of an administrator. I like to organize data and analyze progress rather than lead others."
"I like to take the lead on team projects. I am very vocal and organized which makes me a natural leader. I suppose that is why I am a personnel manager by trade!"
"I am newer to my marketing career so, at this point, I will be quite careful with making suggestions in group meetings. I have great ideas that I am more comfortable pitching one-on-one with my boss. The more experience that I gain, the more comfortable I am becoming when it comes to speaking up in team meetings or during team collaborations."
"When it comes to team projects, I am the numbers and data person. I like to take our goals, break them down into smaller goals, and then show the team exactly how we can reach the sales targets given to us."
"In team projects, I tend to take the lead. Not in an overbearing way, but in a mentoring type of way. In my current role, I am one of the most experienced business development professionals which means that this title puts me into a natural leadership role, anyways. I choose to embrace that and help my team members learn from my experiences and knowledge."
"I am a natural leader, in and out of the classroom. When there is a team project, I do volunteer to take the lead quite often, if nobody else wants the role. I want to ensure that everyone has a fair shot when it comes to expressing themselves as a leader."
Team collaboration is a crucial part of most jobs, so it's essential that you give an overall positive reply to this question. If you have difficulty working in a team environment, that is okay; however, you need to show the interviewer that you are capable of offering flexibility between a group setting and working autonomously. In the end, the interviewer wants to know that you are capable of working positively, in a team environment. If you have difficulty working in a team environment: "Depending on the scope of the project, I sometimes prefer to work autonomously; however, I am more than capable of being a positive and contributing member of a team-based project." If you love working in a team environment: "Personally, I thrive in a team environment. I see team projects as an opportunity to learn new skills!"
"Depending on the scope of the project, I sometimes prefer to work autonomously; however, I am more than capable of being a positive and contributing member of a team-based project."
"Although most of my job focuses on my independent efforts, I do enjoy working in a team environment on larger projects. These team projects offer opportunities to learn new skills and develop stronger coworker relationships."
"I have no difficulty in team-based environments. In fact, that is where I thrive, as a highly collaborative manager. I can work well on my own as well, but I do prefer the variety that team-based projects bring."
"In my current role, I work on a great blend of team and self-based projects. Both aspects are great for their reasons, and I have no problem pivoting from one to the other on a daily basis."
"Retail is all about collaboration and team-work. Although there are times when I prefer to work independently, I do work very well in a group setting on all accounts."
"Territory sales is a bit of an independent beast because I am only as successful as I determine. I am on the road by myself quite a lot, so I do appreciate the odd team collaboration that comes my way with the management of larger accounts, monthly team meetings, industry conferences, and such."
"I have never experienced troubles working in a team environment. I have been lucky enough to work with an amazing faculty for most of my career, and look forward to learning from your teachers at School ABC."
The interviewer is hoping that your coworkers will describe you positively and uniquely. The hiring authority wants to know that you can honestly say that your co-workers enjoy collaborating with you! Select a few positive and unique keywords that genuinely define your work ethic, but also position you as a stand-out candidate. Some great words to use: - Encouraging - Helpful - Engaged - Positive - Hard-working - Punctual - Reliable - Adaptable - Compassionate - Exuberant - Intuitive - Persistent
"I believe my coworkers would describe me as personable, reliable, and easy-going. We all seem to get along great because we work off of each others' strengths."
"I know that my coworkers respect my work ethic. If I had to guess how they perceive me, I think they would say that I am a reliable person, an encouraging manager, and a strong mentor."
"I believe that my coworkers would describe me as curious, confident, and creative! I put a lot of effort into my work and always want my clients to be happy with their end product. I conduct a great deal of research into new marketing trends to ensure that I am delivering the best, most up-to-date solutions to my client projects."
"If asked, my coworkers would describe me as someone with patience which is helpful, and great closer! I have the innate ability to get to know my customers in a short amount of time, by asking the right discovery questions. These questions allow me to make great product suggestions and sell them quickly."
"I have been described as persistent, determined, and hard-working. Failure is not in my vocabulary as I will even take a perceived failure, and make it work for me. I do not give up, and in fact, when things get harder, I dig in deeper."
"I believe that my coworkers would describe me as empathetic, kind, and focused. I will help any student that comes to me, regardless of the additional time and dedication required of me. Being an educator is more than just my job. It's my unique contribution."
The interviewer would like further details on what you consider to be a substantial contribution when you are in a team setting. Your example can come from a previous role or your current one. You can also draw on experience from your high school or post-secondary education if you are newer to your career. Volunteer experience is a great situation to bring an example from as well. Give the interviewer an idea of what you did to contribute, and be sure to mention any accolades you may have received for your excellent contribution.
"Last week, our manager was unexpectedly out of the office for a few days, due to illness. We were scrambling to hit a few deadlines, so I suggested that we all meet, divvy up the work, and then meet again at the end of the day to see where we had gaps. In this instance, I took the role of leader, and it worked out well. When my manager returned, he gave our whole team kudos for how well we banded together."
"I contributed this year to our company's holiday party by joining the social committee. I thought that my administrative expertise might be helpful, and it was! I found appropriate vendors, compared prices, and eventually booking the venue and caterer. My contribution was significant, and I felt a great sense of pride the day of our event."
"I contribute to team efforts on a daily basis, as a floor manager. I hold a team huddle every morning, and outline expectations for the day, including my own. I want my team to know that I am also carrying the bulk of the work versus being the type of manager who barks out orders. I am the mentor, the encourager, and the pacesetter in team efforts."
"One of our pods was struggling when it came to finalizing the web copy for a client. I overheard their struggle and offered to jump in to assist since writing copy is one of my greater strengths. They agreed to let me join their team for that particular project. It was great fun."
"Our corporate head office recently introduced a friendly sales competition between all fifteen stores, across the country. The first team to hit $1M in sales would receive a $250 gift card for each of its members. When the announcement was out, I was very excited and created a spreadsheet breaking down what everyone's target needed to be, per shift, to make an equal contribution. By breaking the numbers down, the team seemed less overwhelmed. The goal seemed achievable. In that instance, I was the encourager in the team. I like to bring a lot of positive energy to a competitive situation."
"In my current position, our team is bonused annually based on overall performance, not individual performance. Being one of the senior members of the sales team, I have a solid idea what it takes to hit a good year-end bonus. I created a sales plan and presented it to my regional manager. He made a few tweaks and presented it to the entire group. In that instance, I was the numbers and ideas guy. We successfully hit our goal because we were all so focused and knew what we needed to do."
"Our school has a reputation for having an outstanding soccer team. Unfortunately, this year, our head coach was on medical leave. I stepped up as the interim coach which were big shoes to fill. I put a lot of effort into coaching the kids, training them on new techniques, and learning new techniques myself. We made it all the way to Nationals, which I made me incredibly proud."