Alternative and related questions:
Are you a team player?
In what ways are you a team player?
Do you prefer working on your own or as part of a team?
How would you define teamwork?
Can you tell me about a team you worked in and the role you played within that team?
What do you think makes a perfect team?
The meaning behind the question:
Teamwork is essential in almost any work environment. Questioning your ability to work in a team is therefore one of an interviewer’s favourites. They’ll be looking for evidence of a number of core abilities:
• The ability to communicate effectively with others
• The ability to recognise and understand the viewpoints of others
• The ability to appreciate the contribution you are expected to make
This is a very important and very popular question which could be phrased in many different ways. As well as pre-preparing your answer to, “Are you a team player”, you should also draft answers to all the alternative questions I’ve listed above. There will be common ground between your answers but each will have a slightly different slant to it.
You could answer the question in the context of your current job but you’d be better off approaching it from the angle of the job for which you are applying. They’re asking you in what ways you are a team player but you need to be asking yourself in what ways will they want you to be a team player. Are they looking for a leader? Are they looking for someone who brings out the best in others? Are they looking for the person who generates the ideas or the person who is a dab hand at putting new ideas into practice?
Establish in your own mind what sort of a team player they want you to be and then deliver an answer which caters to that image.
I certainly very much enjoy working with others; I’m outgoing, I enjoy the team spirit and I’m understanding of the needs of others. I’m good at helping the team to see the bigger picture – to see the wood from the trees – helping them to focus on what really matters rather than getting bogged down in irrelevant detail. I’m also good at helping the team to spot flaws in our approach – and potential problems and pitfalls. I believe I have strong communication skills and, while I don’t yet have experience in a leadership role, I do have a talent for liaising between different team members and resolving any disputes which may arise. Conflict between different team members is rarely very productive and is normally best avoided.