Interview Coaching

Competency 1. Teamwork

Lesson 3

A good team is one that understands its strengths and weaknesses, maximises the former and develops the latter.

Not shying away from weakness and understanding that they are an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to work in a team as well as be a good team leader will help you stand out. 

And remember, this is important because few jobs in today’s world are performed in isolation. Teamwork is integral to the success of the company at large. You must fully realise, embrace and understand this in order to be a successful team player.

Common Questions

  • How do you feel about working on a team?
  • Tell me about a time you solved a problem as a member of a team.
  • How would you motivate team members if you were working on a project together?”
  • Tell me about a difficult experience you had when working on a team project.
  • Give me some examples of your teamwork.
  • Describe being a part of team.
  • Tell me about a challenging workplace situation that you had to deal with.|
  • What role have you played in team situations?

The ​Panel is trying to assess:

  1. Do you like working on a team
  2. How well do you work in groups,  
  3. What role you tend to take on a team project (for example, leader, mediator, f​acilitator). 

All of these questions help the interviewer gauge your experience and comfort with teamwork.

Common Answers

I find teams are a good opportunity to gain insight...

Followed: by specific example

I have learned a lot about myself from working as part of a team...

Followed: by specific example

I have worked on teams where one or two voices tend to dominate the group, and other peoples’ ideas are not heard. 

I feel my record speaks for itself.

Remember: The Panel only has one chance to assess ​you as a ​ candidate, so masterfully “dodging” a tricky question with a slick answer may help the interview run smoothly, but it won’t help the interviewer with their decision. They are looking for specific criteria in order to award you marks. In order to provide them with this answer their questions head on as best as you can, always showcasing how you solved problems and what you learned. Make sure you are answering the question that is being asked and are not wandering off into something else. The panel cannot assign you marks if you don’t meet their agreed upon criteria.

Using the strengths from previous lessons, choose a memory of when one of these opportunities presented itself to you - write it down and extract what you learned from this task. Be sure to pay particular attention to your​ role in the example i.e the specific tasks you took to achieve the desired outcome. ​​​

7 Essential Skills for Teamwork

• Listening: The employees in this team listen to each other's ideas in order to foster a collective sense of ownership...

• Questioning: The employees in this team question each other in order to assure quality and maintain the highest standards...

• Persuading: The employees in this team use persuasion to assert themselves and respectfully argue their point of view, without impacting on any of the relationships they have built...

• Respecting: The employees in this team respect the opinions of others as this is the essence of a well functioning team...

• Supporting: The employees on this team recognise the importance of supporting each other as each of them are depending on the overall success of the team for their own recognition...

• Sharing: The employees on this team recognise the importance of sharing everything from ideas to the work load and being flexibile in order to maintain a dynamic and fresh approach to the challenges we face...

• Participating: ​​​​The employees on this team see participating as essential to health of the team. Each of them has a unique role and understands that they have something positive to contribute...

​Teamwork Skills

Here ​is a list of teamwork skills that you'll want to keep in mind as you prepare to answer questions about teamwork. Ask yourself, when did I demonstrate any of the following:

Conflict management
Drawing out the input of introverts
​Holding people accountable
Framing key issues
Jumping in to do additional work during times of crisis
Monitoring progress
Recognising the achievements of others

Examples of introduction to Teamwork Competencies

“In my last position, I was part of a software implementation team. We all worked together to plan and manage the implementation schedule, to provide customer training, and to ensure a smooth transition for our customers. ​During one particularly challenging and complex assignment an issue arose when two members of the team began constantly butting heads...

“I was part of a team responsible for evaluating and selecting a new vendor for our office equipment and supplies. In this regard, the team was tasked with reviewing options, compare pricing and service, and then choose a suitable vendor​. I was conscious of the importance of the time frame from the outset of this initiative ...” 

Point of note:
although this is a teamwork competency be careful that you use the word ‘I’ in relation to demonstrating the role you undertook in a given scenario. Don’t tell the story by describing the actions of ‘we’ throughout. ‘We’ are not being interviewed.‘I’ am.

Remember: Tailor Your Answer to the Job

Try to provide examples that are closely related to the job or the culture you are applying for. Think about your past work, internship, or voluntary or life experiences that required skills similar to those needed for this job. In general the principles of team work do tend to be universal to all industries, however they may be required in a different context depending on the organisation. We want to highlight your ability to come up with solutions within the team.

Consider also the company and position-level of the job. Large corporate companies may value different teamwork traits than small businesses or start-ups. If you are applying for a management-level position, try to use examples that display your leadership skills and team-building skills. If you are applying for a support position, share how you've helped resolve conflicts or kept team members on deadline. For example 'I recognised that this particular call belonged to my manager but I wanted to make sure that he was fully abreast of the situation before making it.'

In establishing this process organisations can sometimes be more specific about what they require from candidates by developing a list of competencies desirable for each role and in some cases they will expand on what ​is required under each one. The Civil Service has a thoroughly compiled competency based framework for all levels of employment.

​By developing specific examples you can demonstrate ​your abilities a lot better in an interview. Firstly, you demonstrate your ability under a given competency not by just stating that you are ‘good’ at it (as this demonstrates little) but by giving specific examples of situations in which you performed according to what is required by the competency.

​Also, we are asked a lot about smooth talkers and charmers getting selected against other candidates who may be more genuine and the basic fact is that, yes (unfortunately or otherwise) an interview is a performance and it is about how well you do on the day.However, rest assured that a ​well trained interview panel will have ways and means of ​weeding out bluffers.

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