Interview Question – Do You Prefer to Work as a Team or Independently?

AUGUST 25, 2010 | BY MICAH

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” – George Carlin.

In an ideal world, we would be surrounded by likeminded people of whom we click with on a deeper level. The people we work with would be like our best friends, and once the day was over all of you would go out and celebrate the cohesiveness of your work environment.

Unfortunately, most people are unfathomably annoying. There is a reason that most people work in cubicles – so that you can do your job and go home, without the constant reminder that our coworkers are sharing your air.

Do You Prefer to Work as a Team?

Employers would like to learn how you feel about working with others. The “Do you prefer to work in a team or independently” question is common at many job interviews, especially if there is considerable focus on meetings or collaboration.

Still, the answer is not as straight forward as you would think. You should not answer with “I prefer to work as a team. Teams accomplish more and provide great ideas…” etc. It sounds like that is a good answer, and employers may even accept that answer, but you are not going to wow any employer with that response, and of course your goal is to truly impress them. Instead, your answer should be closed to the following:

“It depends on the task. When it comes to brainstorming, teams produce great ideas with multiple input, and teams can highlight people’s strengths. But I certainly enjoy working on my tasks as an individual as well, since in many ways it takes the ability to work alone for the team to fully succeed.”

Even though some companies may claim that they want someone that is a “team player,” the truth is that someone that claims they prefer not to work alone is not going to work out well in the corporate environment. So the answer above incorporates both qualities.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • You should like teams.
  • You should work well as an individual.
  • Don’t necessarily give the easy answer.

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