By Judee Szaro-Treanor
Tell me about a time when you participated in a team. What was your role? When you’re asked this question during a job interviewer what response is the Interviewer actually trying to elicit from you?
As part of our ongoing series on the best answers to commonly asked interview question, I asked Stan Robinson, a Social Selling Strategist, to share his thoughts with me about this interview question. Here’s what Stan had to say.
When an Interviewer asks you this question he is really trying to find out about your experience in working with teams and how you feel about working in a team environment, according to Stan. Your role within a particular team may give him, or her, an indication of your strengths, says Robinson.
These days, team collaboration is becoming increasingly important to employers. They are always looking for candidates who are comfortable and effective working within a team, according to Robinson, who added, “If you’ve already had experience working with people face-to-face and on a virtual team, mention that you’ve done both.”
If you’ve never worked on a team at any of your former jobs, ask whether you can talk about your experience as a team member in another context, such as working as a volunteer for a particular organization/club, religious group, or as a member of sports team, he said.
In addition to talking about your role on a team, focus on how you helped it accomplish its objectives. If you led a team, discuss how you helped it move forward and how you demonstrated your understanding of the team’s dynamics, Stan says.
You may also want to ask the Interviewer about the extent to which the position you are applying for would involve working as part of a team or whether you would actually have to lead a team. The answer to this question can give you some insight into the culture of the company you are considering joining.
When talking about your participation on teams, keep in mind that you don’t have to be the leader to make a positive impact. There are a number of roles on any team that help it operate effectively, according to Robinson.
In addition to contributing ideas, you may have helped the team: keep focused on its objectives, rather than getting side tracked; draw out contributions from other members; by serving as a Mediator when disputes arose; or, by writing a summary of the team’s recommendations, he said.
When describing the team’s efforts, identify where your strengths lie and focus on how your contributions added to the success of the project. Interviewers may also ask about whether you had any bad experiences working with teams. Be careful about how you assign blame when talking about such experiences.
Employers are not for looking for employees who blame others when things go wrong, so, use some diplomacy here. If possible, you can also talk about the dynamics of the team and what you feel you could have been done better as well as what your teammates could have done better.
In addition to being a Social Selling Strategist, Stan Robinson is also a LinkedIn consultant who helps sales/business development professionals use social media to increase their sales productivity and shows them how to apply many of the same principles when using social media as part of a career transition strategy. If you are interested in any of Stan’s services you can reach him by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Judee Szaro-Treanor