How to answer "What is your approach to teamwork and collaboration?" (with sample answers)

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

Why employers ask this

Employers ask the question "What is your approach to teamwork and collaboration?" to understand how well a candidate works with others. Teamwork and collaboration are critical components of the modern workplace where employees of different backgrounds and skill sets must come together to achieve common goals.

Employers want to know if a candidate can work effectively in a team setting and if the candidate's teamwork approach aligns with the company's values and culture. A strong answer to this question can demonstrate a candidate's ability to communicate, listen, contribute, and cooperate with others, all of which are essential skills in today's workplaces.

How to answer the question

When answering the question "What is your approach to teamwork and collaboration?" in a job interview, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Highlight your experience with teamwork: Be specific about your past experience collaborating with colleagues, whether it be on a project in school or at a previous job.
  2. Explain your communication style: Collaboration works best when everyone can communicate effectively. Explain how you prefer to communicate with teammates and how you adapt to different communication styles.
  3. Show your appreciation for diversity: Working with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences is common in many companies. Show how you appreciate diversity and how it can lead to better results.
  4. Give an example of a successful collaboration: To demonstrate your approach to collaboration, provide an example of a project or initiative you worked on that required teamwork, and explain how you contributed to its success.
  5. Be honest: Don't try to give the impression that you're a solo worker if you're not. It's okay to say that you enjoy working collaboratively and are open to learning how to work in a team setting if you have limited experience.

Overall, the key to answering this question well is to demonstrate your ability to work well with others, communicate effectively, and value teamwork and collaboration in the workplace.

Sample answers

Interviewers often ask this question to assess how well a jobseeker can work with others. Here are 4 example answers:

  1. Bad example: "I prefer to work alone and don't really enjoy collaborating with others. I find that it slows me down and can be frustrating when someone else doesn't pull their weight."
    Why it's bad: This answer shows a lack of interest in working with others and could make the interviewer question the candidate's ability to work in a team. Collaboration is often a vital aspect of many jobs, and this answer doesn't demonstrate a desirable attitude towards this skill.
  2. Good example: "My approach to teamwork and collaboration is to always make sure that everyone is heard and valued, especially when making decisions. I believe in setting clear expectations for each team member and encouraging open communication throughout the project. When conflicts arise, I try to find a solution that benefits everyone involved."
    Why it's good: This answer shows that the candidate understands the importance of collaboration and is willing to work with others for the success of the project. The answer also highlights essential elements of effective teamwork: communication, conflict resolution, and equitable participation.
  3. Bad example: "I don't mind collaboration, but I'm usually the one who ends up doing most of the work. I find that my colleagues often don't take the project as seriously as I do."
    Why it's bad: This answer displays a lack of trust in colleagues and a reluctance to delegate tasks, which is essential in project management. It is also an indication that the candidate may struggle to work collaboratively and could cause tension within the team.
  4. Good example: "I believe in building a strong team by recognizing each person's strengths and weaknesses and delegating tasks accordingly. I think it's crucial to acknowledge our differences and focus on what each team member can contribute to the project. Regular check-ins and feedback also help ensure we're on track and everyone has a say in how the project evolves."
    Why it's good: This answer demonstrates the candidate's ability to lead and delegate tasks effectively. It also highlights the importance of communication and recognizes that a successful team is one that works together, recognizing its strengths and weaknesses. By emphasizing feedback and regular check-ins, the candidate indicates a desire to stay on top of the project's progress and address problems as they arise.
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