Getting the job you want is a competitive business. The importance of differentiating yourself from others has never been more important. Of course you will have many skills and attributes to mention at interview, but a key element to consider is your approach to teamwork.
It’s a pretty standard interview question to be asked to give some examples of situations where you have worked in a team. It is good interview planning therefore, to consider these situations in advance as part of your preparation. More than that though, think about why they are asking the question. In that way you will be able to add context to your answer and demonstrate the understanding of the skills that the employer is seeking in their questioning.
The old adage is that “the sum is greater than the parts”. Teams often produce better results than an individual would on their own. The process will involve the input of differing viewpoints. Those views will be discussed with the best collective solution coming to the fore. Compromise will almost certainly be required. The employer will want to hear about how the team dynamic worked. What role did you play? How did you make yourself heard?
Teams are often created to work on significant projects or in areas of change. These often involve people working cross functionally. This creates an excellent opportunity for learning. It can also be helpful for employees to have a more rounded understanding of the business as a whole and more empathy for other departments. Think about what new skills working within a team environment gave you. Do you now have an appreciation of other business areas or functions within your own department?
Individuals in a team are supported by their colleagues and have a shared sense of purpose. The highs felt when working in a team often feel higher and conversely the lows don’t feel as bad as when working alone. Employers will be seeking some examples of what you learned when things went well and conversely, what happened when they didn’t? How did you support those around you? How did you balance the needs of the team with your individual role?
Working in a team fosters flexibility and responsiveness. The fact that a number of individuals are working together means that there will be greater sharing of ideas and feedback. This in turn can create a greater ability to find a way around obstacles. Prepare with examples of how you worked as a group to find a way around an issue and how you arrived at the new answer.
Last but by no means least. If you can demonstrate you’re happy working in teams, you’re likely to be a person that those in the office want to have around. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to be an extrovert or comedian. Quite the opposite, it means you have the ability to fit in, adopt a role, and bring out the best in others as well as yourself.
If you’re passionate at interview about your team working experiences and demonstrate a good understanding of why teams are important, you’ll be one step closer to that job you seek.