Common Interview Questions Explained: How to Answer “Describe a time when you worked successfully in a team.”

There is one prompt that you will hear at nearly any job interview:

“Describe a time when you worked successfully in a team.”

This one is a true classic for many reasons and one you should be prepared to answer.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

Interviewers use this question to gauge your collaboration skills, communication style, and ability to work with others.

Instead of simply forming this as a “yes” or “no” question, the interviewer would like to hear you express an example of a time you worked well with others. The purpose of this is twofold:

  • The interviewer gets an idea of the situations you’ve worked in.
  • The interviewer gets to witness your communication skills first-hand as you relate your experience to them.

So, be ready to speak concisely and confidently as you give one or two examples that you have prepared ahead of time with this question in mind.

How To Prepare

The interviewer wants to get a sneak peek into your past experiences to see if you're a team player or more of a lone wolf. So, when preparing for your interview, think of a scenario where you shone in a group setting.

Don’t just say something like, “I enjoy working with others and many aspects of my job involve teamwork.” Also be sure to sprinkle in some details about how you contributed and helped the team achieve its goals. You want to be part of the team, but also stand out as taking a lead in encouraging the team to work well together.

Be sure to review the job details so you can select an example that will have the most impact on your new potential position with the company.

But what if I typically work alone?

In this post-pandemic age of technology, more employees than ever have the ability (and possibly even the preference) to work independently. If this describes you, that doesn’t mean you should bring that up at this point in the interview.

Even independent workers often must collaborate with other departments, answer to higher managers, or possibly collaborate with clients. These are all experiences you can draw from to form a meaningful answer to this question.

So, instead of saying something like, “I typically work solo,” focus on a project or task where you took the lead and independently nailed it. Emphasize your self-reliance, problem-solving abilities, and ability to handle things on your own. The key is to show that even if you work independently, you're still an active contributor to the team.

What Could an Answer to This Question Sound Like?

Option 1: "In my previous role as a (job title), our team was tasked with launching a new marketing campaign for a major product. It was my responsibility to coordinate communication between the various departments.

During the project, we faced a sudden change in the product launch date due to market conditions. It required quick adjustments in our strategy. I organized impromptu brainstorming sessions, encouraging open dialogue to gather everyone’s ideas and perspectives. I also worked closely with the digital marketing team to optimize our online presence and ensure a consistent message across all channels.

Even though I wasn't the team leader, my ability to facilitate communication and adapt to unforeseen challenges significantly contributed to the campaign's success."


Option 2: "In my previous role, I often handled individual projects that required a high level of autonomy. One project comes to mind where I was tasked with revamping our client onboarding process. While it was primarily an individual assignment, I recognized the need for input from various departments to ensure a united approach.

I took the initiative to organize zoom meetings with representatives from different teams, such as sales, customer support, and IT. Even though I was driving the project, I valued their insights and expertise. We collaborated on streamlining communication channels, implementing new software for efficiency, and ensuring a seamless handover between departments.

Although I may have initiated and led the project, the success was only a result of collective effort. It highlighted my ability to work independently while recognizing the importance of teamwork for a successful outcome."


In both scenarios, the interviewee successfully displays their collaborative and communicative strengths, while staying true to their role in the company. Even if you work independently for yourself, you likely still can draw from your experiences with clients, vendors, city officials, or any others you need to collaborate with to complete your tasks.

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