Interview Q&A: How to Answer "Are You a Team Player?"

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Being able to work as part of a team is an important quality employers look for when recruiting new employees. During the interview, a hiring manager can ask whether you're a team player to evaluate your ability to work with other people and fit into their company culture. Knowing how to answer this question convincingly can position you as a strong candidate for the role and increase your chances of getting the job.

In this article, we discuss why recruiters ask questions about teamwork, explain how to respond to their questions and outline several sample answers you can as inspiration for your own.

Why do interviewers ask "are you a team player?"

Employers ask "are you a team player?" to assess you for a broad range of qualities. Your response can help the interviewer evaluate whether you love working with other people or prefer being independent. They can also use your answer to assess your communication and interpersonal skills and whether you're a good fit for their role and organisational culture. There are several variations of this question, including:

  • Do you prefer working as part of a team or by yourself?

  • Do you consider yourself independent-minded or love collaboration?

  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with a team member? How did you resolve your differences?

  • Tell me about a project that involved collaborating with other people? What was your contribution to the success of the project?

  • How do you motivate people?

  • Have you ever worked with a person with a difficult personality?

Almost every organisation wants its employees to work as part of a team. While some roles may involve some level of independence, large projects often require leveraging the skills, experiences and personal strengths of a team. When team members work towards collective goals, it can increase a company's ability to deliver results and achieve its objectives faster, which makes teamwork essential.

Related: 6 Common Interview Questions About Teamwork (With Answers)

How to answer questions about your teamwork skills

Follow these steps to learn how to answer the interview question "are you a team player?" in a way that impresses the interviewer:

1. Research the role and the company

One way to answer this question correctly is to research the specific responsibilities of the role you're applying for and the employer. Check the job description for the particular skills the company is looking for in the ideal candidates. Look for keywords such as collaboration, teamwork, cooperation, communication and interpersonal skills, as these are all required for working as part of a team.

You can also go through the company's social media handles, career pages and website to check for their philosophy about work. A company that places a premium on collaboration among employees is likely to mention the values of teamwork in its internal and external communications. Use this information to boost your understanding of the role and create an appropriate response when you're asked questions about teamwork.

2. Leverage your experience

A great way to respond convincingly to questions related to teamwork is to draw inspiration from your experience. Support your answers with stories from previous roles. Choose examples of instances where your collaboration skills helped complete projects on schedule and within budget. Highlight your contributions to the team effort and the impact you made, quantifying your achievements where possible. If you have little work experience, you can give examples from school projects, volunteering programmes and even extracurricular activities such as sport.

3. Support your answers with personality traits

To make your answers more powerful, support them with other personal qualities that are required for teamwork. You can talk about your excellent communication skills, including language skills and even nonverbal cues. Interpersonal skills, empathy, emotional intelligence and conflict resolution can also help you cooperate more effectively with other people. The ability to listen actively, quickly adapt to change and work for the success of the group are also important traits for teamwork.

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

4. Provide role-relevant answers

It's important for your answers to be related to the employer's role. Try to connect previous achievements and collaborative efforts to the duties and responsibilities of the position. Demonstrate your ability to transfer your skills and experience from previous roles to the employer's position so they can visualise you helping them achieve their goals.

5. Be honest

While it's important to position yourself as the ideal candidate for the role, avoid giving yourself qualities you don't have. Focus on the unique personal strengths and competencies that qualify you for the role. If you perform better while working alone, be honest, but frame your answer to show that you're adaptable and ready to do whatever is required to help your team succeed.

6. Stay natural

To ensure that your answers are believable and deliver a good impression, try as much as possible to be natural. Don't give forced answers or cryptic responses that sound like you memorised them. Consider writing your talking points on a piece of paper where you can check them to refresh your brain. That way, you can provide authentic answers and deliver a convincing performance that can impress the interviewer.

7. Watch your body language

When you're conversing with an interviewer, it's important for your body language to sync with your words. The interviewer is not only listening to your words. They can also use nonverbal cues such as your sitting position, eye movement and gestures to determine the authenticity of your responses. Avoid looking downward or sideways, maintain a good amount of eye contact with the interviewer, sit upright and avoid fidgeting.

Related: Essential Qualities of Powerful Team Player

Example answers to the interview question "Are you a team player?"

Here are examples of answers you can use to develop your responses when interviewers ask you questions about being a team player:

Software developer

Here's an example answer to a team player interview question for a software developer role:

"I'm a natural extrovert, so working as part of a team is fun for me. I achieve peak performance when I collaborate with others. As a software developer who works with development teams across three continents, teamwork is an important skill for my success. In my previous role, I recommended a collaboration tool that allowed my team to share, edit, improve, delete and debug each member's code. This led to a 25% increase in our productivity and raised our project delivery rate by 15% within six months of adoption."

Project manager

Here's an example of a response to a question about teamwork for a project manager interview:

"Having served as a project manager and team lead on several multi-million-dollar projects, I understand the importance of teamwork and collaboration. Thanks to my excellent delegation skills, I was able to leverage each team member's skills and experiences for improved productivity and efficiency. In my experience, engaging in team-building activities such as goal setting, group lunches and strategy meetings before and during project implementation helps us avoid miscommunication and build rapport among team members, and this motivates people to dedicate themselves to common goals."

Related: 5 Important Roles and Responsibilities of a Team Leader

Team lead

Here's an example of an answer to a question about being a team player during an interview for a team lead role:

"In my experience, the most successful managers excel at building and managing a team. At my previous company, my supervisor's style of leadership showed me that providing clear instructions can reduce conflict and help people perform their jobs more independently. Now, I know that combining delegation and concise instructions with a set of rules and trusting in my team significantly boosts their performance and job satisfaction."

Project planner

Here's an example answer to a teamwork question during an interview for a project planner job:

"In my previous role, the nature of my work required being able to work independently. While this is important, I've also learned to leverage the skills and experiences of other people, especially my manager. By collaborating with her, I was able to learn valuable lessons, which helped improve my job completion rate and made me a more refined professional. So, being a team player is important to me wherever I work."

What qualities make a team player?

When answering questions about being a team player at an interview, here are some qualities you can use to demonstrate your ability to collaborate with other people:

  • Being open to ideas: Working as a team requires the ability to welcome other views and opinions. Even if you're the team leader, effective collaboration is easier to achieve if people know you respect their work and they can contribute to the decision-making process.

  • Delineating roles: The best teams provide clarity on the specific duties of each member. That way, each individual understands their job functions, company expectations and where roles overlap, helping to reduce conflict and redundancy.

  • Holding yourself accountable: It's important for team members to take responsibility for their actions and how it affects the group. This way, you can learn from mistakes and avoid errors that can impact the team's progress.

  • Showing commitment: It's also important to be committed to the group. Effective team players prioritise the success of the team over personal interests, and this helps to improve results.

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