How to answer "What is your experience with working with cross-functional teams?" (with sample answers)

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

Why employers ask this

The ability to work with cross-functional teams is becoming increasingly relevant for many companies, particularly those that are looking to stay competitive in a fast-paced market. Working well with others in a team environment is no longer just a nice-to-have skill, but a must-have quality for employees in all roles. As such, this question is a way for interviewers to assess whether candidates have the necessary skills and experience to work effectively with others from different backgrounds and disciplines.

Through this question, the interviewer will be evaluating your communication skills, your ability to collaborate with other team members, your leadership qualities, and your adaptability when working in a constantly changing environment. They may also be interested in knowing how well you handle conflicts or challenging situations in a team.

How to answer the question

When answering this question, keep in mind that your response should be tailored to the specific job position and company culture. Here are some tips on how to answer this question:

  • Provide specific examples: Instead of just talking about your experience in general terms, provide specific examples of cross-functional teams you have worked on, what your role was, and the outcomes achieved by the team.
  • Highlight your teamwork skills: Emphasize the cooperation, communication, and collaboration skills you used when working with the team.
  • Show your adaptability: Give examples of how you adapted to different situations, personalities, and work styles while working with cross-functional teams.
  • Share how you handled conflicts: Discuss how you handled conflicts or challenges that arose within the cross-functional team, and how you worked collaboratively to resolve them.
  • Bring it back to the company: Tie your experiences working with cross-functional teams to the job description and show how your skills and experience can contribute to the company's goals.

Remember that this question offers a great opportunity to showcase your teamwork and collaboration skills. By demonstrating that you can work well with others, you will be setting yourself apart as a team player and a valuable asset to the company.

Sample answers:

  1. Bad answer:

    Oh, I've worked with cross-functional teams before. It's pretty much like working with any other team, you know?

    Why it's bad: This answer is vague and unhelpful. It doesn't provide any specific examples or details about how the candidate has worked in cross-functional teams or what challenges they faced.

  2. Good answer:

    I've had a lot of experience working with cross-functional teams in my previous roles. For example, in my last job, I was part of a team that included members from sales, marketing, and product development. We collaborated on a new campaign that required each department to contribute their expertise. Through this experience, I learned how to communicate effectively across departments and respect each team member's perspective. It was challenging at times, but the end result was a highly successful campaign that met all our goals.

    Why it's good: This answer provides a specific example that demonstrates the candidate's experience with cross-functional teams. They explain how they overcame challenges and highlight the successful outcome of their collaboration.

  3. Bad answer:

    I've never really worked with cross-functional teams before, but I'm willing to learn.

    Why it's bad: This answer indicates that the candidate lacks relevant experience. While being willing to learn is important, it doesn't answer the interviewer's question about the candidate's experience working with cross-functional teams.

  4. Good answer:

    I've had experience working with cross-functional teams in a variety of projects throughout my career. One notable example was when I led a team that included members from engineering, marketing, and customer service on a product launch. During this project, I organized regular team meetings and assigned tasks based on each member's strengths and expertise. By doing so, we were able to streamline our product development process and ensure that each team member's contributions were valuable. This experience has taught me the importance of effective communication, teamwork, and respect for different perspectives.

    Why it's good: This answer provides a specific example of the candidate's experience leading a cross-functional team. They highlight their leadership skills and ability to assign tasks based on each team member's strengths. The candidate also acknowledges the importance of effective communication and teamwork, which shows their understanding of what it takes to work well in cross-functional teams.

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