How to answer "How do you approach communication and collaboration with team members?" (with sample answers)

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This post is part of our series on behavioral interview questions.

Why employers ask this

Employers ask this question to know how well you fit into their corporate culture and how you handle teamwork. Initiative counts, but it takes more than just individual skills to succeed in a team effort. Satisfying a company's goals always require successful collaboration between team members, and a lack of effective communication can result in a project's failure. Your reply to this question gives employers insight into your capacity to function productively in a team setting. Employers are concerned about discovering how you build relationships with others, interact and exchange knowledge with peers in the team.

Typically, employees are grouped into teams where each member possesses distinct strengths, experiences, and expertise. Companies require this diversity of strengths so that the team can provide many perspectives to solve complicated issues. Hiring a team player promises a conducive working environment and enhances the group's coherence and creativity. Therefore, you must be ready to demonstrate a positive attitude to teamwork and convey how you communicate and collaborate with others.

How to answer the question

When replying to this question, try to encapsulate the following elements:

  1. Provide a concise overview of how you approach communication and collaboration in a group effort.
  2. Describe the approach you use to ensure you understand what your team members expect from you and how you communicate your expectations to them.
  3. Provide examples that demonstrate how you work successfully as a team and any measures you put in place to ensure that you meet group objectives.
  4. Outline the results of some of your team efforts, adding details on how you celebrated successes and how you dealt with failures.

Remember to be truthful on your experience. If you don't have sufficient experience working in a team, describe how your individual skills can profit and contribute to a group's objectives. More significantly, your response should reveal to the employer how you intend to integrate into their company's current work culture and demonstrate your potential as a team player.

Sample answers

1. Good answer:

I communicate frequently with team members and make sure everyone is on the same page. I actively listen to their ideas and opinions and offer feedback and suggestions in a respectful manner. I am also open to constructive criticism and value diverse perspectives in order to achieve the best results as a team. In terms of collaboration, I try to assign tasks based on each team member's strengths and encourage them to take ownership of their responsibilities. Regular check-ins and updates are also crucial to ensure that everyone stays informed and progress is being made.

2. Bad answer:

I'm pretty chill with communication and collaboration. I don't really like to micromanage anyone and prefer to let everyone do their own thing. I'm pretty easy going and don't really see any problems happening.

Why it's bad: This answer shows a lack of care and consideration for teamwork and getting things done. It shows that the candidate may not be fully invested in the job or the success of the team.

3. Good answer:

When working with team members, I like to establish clear goals and expectations from the outset. I make sure everyone is aware of what's expected of them and how their contributions fit into the larger picture. Additionally, I believe that transparency and constant feedback are key to effective communication. I always encourage team members to speak their minds and openly share their opinions, even if they don't align with mine. Regular progress reports and meetings are also essential for tracking progress and identifying potential problems before they become major issues.

4. Bad answer:

I'm inclined to take control and lead the team. I don't like others interfering with my ideas or telling me what to do. I think it's easier for everyone if there is a clear hierarchy and everyone is aware of who's in charge of what.

Why it's bad: This answer shows a disregard for the importance of teamwork and collaboration. It also shows a lack of flexibility and adaptability, which are essential qualities in a team environment. This attitude may lead to tension and conflict among team members and ultimately, poor results.

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