How to answer "What experience do you have working with different cultures or diverse teams?" (with sample answers)

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

Why Employers Ask This

Employers nowadays value diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. They want to ensure that their employees can work effectively with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. That's why they ask this question to assess your interpersonal skills and ability to work in a team. Even if the job itself doesn't involve working with people from different cultures, being able to demonstrate your experience in this area can be a valuable asset to any organization committed to diversity and inclusion.

How to Answer the Question

When answering this question, you want to be specific and provide examples of your experience working with people from different cultures or backgrounds. Here are some tips:

  1. Provide examples from your past experience: Think of a time when you worked with people from different cultures or backgrounds. You can draw from your previous employment, volunteer work, or personal experiences. Be sure to highlight your role in the experience and the outcome of the project.
  2. Highlight your communication skills: Effective communication is key when working with people from diverse backgrounds. Mention how you adapted your communication style to accommodate others' needs.
  3. Emphasize your open-mindedness: Working with people from different cultures requires an open-minded attitude. Express how you respect and value diversity and embrace different perspectives.
  4. Show your flexibility: Working with people from different cultures often requires flexibility to accommodate cultural differences and work style. Explain how you've shown flexibility in your past experiences.
  5. Be honest: If you don't have direct experience working with people from different cultures, be honest and explain how you are willing to learn and adapt to new situations.

Sample answers

  1. Bad Answer:

    I have never worked with diverse teams before. I am used to working with people who have the same background as me.

    Why it's bad: This answer shows a lack of experience and diversity. It may make the interviewer question the candidate's ability to adapt to new situations and work effectively with people from different backgrounds.

  2. Good Answer:

    I have had the opportunity to work with people from various cultural backgrounds in my previous job. We participated in a project that required cross-functional collaboration with teams from different countries. This experience taught me how to effectively communicate and build relationships with people from different cultures. I gained an understanding of cultural differences that helped me build trust and respect with diverse team members.

    Why it's good: This answer demonstrates specific experience working with diverse teams and highlights the candidate's ability to communicate and build relationships across cultures.

  3. Bad Answer:

    My previous job was in a homogeneous environment, so I haven't had much experience working with different cultures or diverse teams. However, I'm a quick learner and think I could adapt quickly in such a scenario.

    Why it's bad: This answer acknowledges a lack of experience and offers a general response without any concrete examples. It may make the interviewer question the candidate's ability to work effectively with diverse teams.

  4. Good Answer:

    I have volunteered with various non-profit organizations that work with immigrant families and refugees. This has allowed me to work closely with people from different cultural backgrounds and understand their unique needs. I have also participated in several cross-cultural training programs in my previous job, which taught me how to work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.

    Why it's good: This answer highlights the candidate's experience in non-work settings and shows a willingness to learn and engage with diverse communities. The mention of cross-cultural training programs also demonstrates a proactive approach to learning and building skills related to diversity and inclusion.

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