Having a good team is pivotal for your satisfaction at work. However, things are typically the other way around. People compete instead of cooperate, each of them trying to shine and earn a promotion, or at least a salary raise. And then you have gossips, intrigues, and worse things that sadly belong to a typical corporate team of 21st century. Or at least that’s what I often hear from people when we talk about their jobs and problems they deal with in the teams. They complain about their colleagues. But a small team is still a basic structural unit of every organization, and hiring managers continue to look for people who actually enjoy teamwork, and perhaps will even bring a positive energy to the existing team. Will it be you?
You have several options of answering this question. One of them is really picking an entirely positive teamwork experience. And it doesn’t have to be an experience from work. You can talk about a great team at school, in a sports club, or even in your family, when you cooperated together to achieve something good for the family. Second option is talking more realistically, and describe a successful teamwork experience with both good and bad things that belong to it. It can still be a great experience, one you enjoyed, the best one. Just it doesn’t sound like a fairy-tale anymore :).
The third option consist in saying that you’ve never had such an experience in your life. This can work when you are young, just applying for your first job. But it is also a good answer if you left your last job (or even a series of jobs) exactly due to this reason–that the teamwork sucked, that you didn’t enjoy the cooperation with people around you. Let’s have a look at sample answers for each of these options, and some more.
7 sample answers to “Can you describe your best experience of working in a team?” interview question
- I definitely can, but I have to look back quite a bit. When I was in my last year at high school, we decided to try and start a small start-up with few classmates. The goal was to improve the recycling of plastic materials in our area, incorporating them in building materials. I will never forget how enthusiastic we were about the proposal. We met almost each afternoon after school, and worked on our project. Technology, marketing, fundraising, looking for business partners, setting-up our online presence, and so on. It was fascinating, and we supported each other. Eventually the start-up didn’t work out, since we didn’t get the funds necessary to proceed with the real operation, and the technology we needed was much more expensive than we expected. Nevertheless, it was my best teamwork experience, and I definitely hope to experience something similar in my new job.
- The best teamwork experience is the one from my last corporate job. The team was incredibly diverse, in all means. Of course it caused some tension at the start. But since we all followed the same goal, and the roles in the team were clearly assigned, and everyone was working hard, I found the experience incredibly enriching. I learned so much there, and I just loved the energy in the meetings. And I fancy that I also contributed to the energy, and that other team members enjoyed working with me, because they could rely on me always, and I never let them down. I believe this experience prepared me for a managerial role, for the next step in my professional career, and I hope to get a chance to prove it in your team.
- My family is the best team I’ve been ever working in. Living on a village and having both big garden and animals, we all need to cooperate to make sure everything is taken care of, that animals get what they need each day. This includes horses, cows, sheep, and of course our dogs. It isn’t always an easy life, especially in winter, but we have a great cooperation with my siblings and parents. Everyone takes care of their duties without complaining, and then we can enjoy the fruits of our work. I hope to experience something similar in my first job, though I understand the setting and rules will be completely different. But I believe that if I approach it the same way I do approach teamwork in my family, things will work, and I will enjoy my time at work.
- To be honest, I believe that a perfect teamwork experience doesn’t exist. Everything is incredibly fast-paced nowadays, and stress levels are high in every corporation. This has an impact on people in the team, and sometimes the bad things shine through. But it is something I learned to live with, and I focus on the good things, good moments in the team, and most importantly on my contribution and my attitude to other team members. At the end of the day, it is the only thing I have fully under control. To sum it up, for me every single experience working in a team was a good one, because I always learned something, and it helped me move further in my professional career.
- I am still waiting for my best teamwork experience, and that’s exactly why I am here. So far I’ve worked in two corporations (as you can see on my resume). Actually I quit both of them because of the atmosphere in the team. In one case, people were jeopardizing work of each other, simply because they had personal problems and jealousy issues. I tried my best to bring some harmony to the team, but it didn’t work, and I had to quit. The other team as full of lazybones. People wanted to do the least possible, and as soon as the manager left the office, most people just wasted time on their smartphones, drank coffee, etc. Again, I tried to change it and worked hard, but other people hated me for it, and I soon became an outcast in the team. Having said that, I haven’t given up on teamwork yet, and still hope to experience something great as a part of a hard-working team. Maybe it will be the case in your company.
- My best experience so far is from the team of one. I’ve been working as a freelance accountant up to this point. And while it was a team of one, I had many roles in the team–manager, marketer, accountant, salesman, and so on. Looking back at it with some perspective, I think I did quite well to balance these roles, and as a result I had a twenty years long successful career in the field. But the times has come for a change, since I feel that from now on I should focus on the core of my profession–the accounting, without having to deal with everything else related to running your own consultancy. And I hope I can have an amazing team experience in your company, cooperating with managers, sales people, marketers, analysts and other professionals.
- For me, results matter more than anything else. That’s why I consider my second to last job my best teamwork experience so far. We were a small sales team, all results-driven. And while there was healthy competition in the team and everyone tried to beat the other guys in sales volume, we also supported each other, shared successful sales techniques, stayed together in hard times when sales were down, and overall I feel we had a blast in that team. I would love to replicate something similar in my new job, ideally with your company.
Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also sample answers to other tricky interview questions you may face:
- Are you a leader, or a follower?
- What does teamwork mean to you?
- What do you enjoy most or least about teamwork?