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Interview as a Team Player

January 15, 2018

Do you come across at an interview as a competent but self-interested candidate or as a high-performing team player? Many companies are anxious to hire new employees who don’t just have the right experience and expertise, but who will also fit the corporate culture and act as strong team players. How can you, as a candidate for a new job, prove that you not only have the drive and competence to do the job, but that you will also make the whole team better?   

I recently spoke with Rebecca Teasdale, one of the authors of the new book, The Loyalist Team, who has researched best practices for high-performance teamwork for the last 25 years. Here’s her advice. 

Have your teamwork stories ready.  

Giving examples of your past teams’ successes, not just your own, is a great way to show you can play on a team. When asked in an interview to share an accomplishment you are most proud, throw in a story about shared success. For example, I’m most proud of a time I helped a teammate succeed at  Further, if you can speak to a time you helped a team recover from a setback or deal with conflict, even better. When our project team missed an important deadline, I made sure everyone knew I had their back and focused on what we could learn instead of blaming others.  

Down with “Me” and up with “We.” 

When giving examples of your team’s successes, use “we” language to show you can share the credit with teammates. However, when speaking of your mistakes and setbacks, stick with the “I” language to show you are quick to take accountability. 

Ask questions about the hiring manager’s team – your potential peers. 

Asking questions about your future team is fair game. Show you understand team dynamics by asking questions like: How does the team work together? How does the team work through conflict? What matters most on this team? How does this team respond to failure? 

“Having expertise in your field is considered price of entry these days. Employers are looking for candidate who bring the ability to play well with others and push their teammates to achieve great results,” says Teasdale. Applicants can stand apart from their competition by touting the importance of teamwork and giving examples of how they made a difference on a team. Some top team player attributes you can demonstrate are: 

  • Working collaboratively 
  • Productively managing conflict  
  • Sharing credit 
  • Helping your teammates succeed 
  • Not engaging in gossip or hearsay about other teammates 
  • Holding teammates accountable for their team behavior 

Savvy interviewers know how to avoid making hiring mistakes – that is, bringing in an employee who is qualified on paper but isn’t a culture fit in their organization. Give yourself the best chance to stand out in your next interview by showing you are the hard-to-find team player the company is looking for. 

Join Dana Manciagli’s Job Search Master Class right now and immediately access the most comprehensive job search system currently available!

Thunderbird School of Global Management Alumna Dana Manciagli '84 is the author of "Cut the crap, Get a job". With her 'Career Mojo' column, Dana is the sole syndicated career columnist for the Business Journal nationwide. Her remarkable profile includes a career in global sales and marketing for Fortune 500 corporations like Microsoft, IBM, and Kodak. She has coached, interviewed and hired thousands of job seekers. This article was originally published on her website.

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