Tough Interview Question - What did you do in your last position to help create a positive team environment?

What did you do in your last position to help create a positive team environment?

Similar interview questions:
How did you build effective teamwork within your department?
Did you have a functioning or nonfunctioning team in place when you joined?
What level of influence to you have on your present team?
What do you do specifically to help foster and encourage teamwork?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is asking the “Are you a team player” question with a twist. This question is more about the structure and functioning of the team and your role in developing and sustaining that team. So it requires a more in depth analysis of the team dynamics. While this is normally a question for an experienced candidate (especially one who has been a manager or team leader), it is also appropriate for individual contributors to discuss their role and influence within a team.

The best approach to answering this question:
You should give an example of a properly functioning team and your role in getting the team to that level. If you are a leader within the team, you can talk about what you did to build up the team itself at a higher level. If you are a member of the team, talk about what you did within the team to contribute to the success of the team.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"When I joined _____, my team was having daily status meetings that often lasted an hour or more. I changed that after I started to a daily standup and kept it to no more than 15 minutes. Then I introduced scrum sessions for any person on my team to call and lead during the week to solve any difficult problems which might arise. By using scrums real time, we were able to get the team working well together on a daily basis to the point that we were able to reduce the status meeting standup to once a week. Let me tell you more about a recent scrum session and the problem we solved together…"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"On my recent internship, I was clearly the most junior person on the team, yet I had a lot of experience with a software tool which was new to everyone else. So I offered to provide some informal training over lunch using brown bag lunch sessions. The first one was with the entire team, then I did deskside brown bags where I helped each person individually to come up to speed on the tool. It went so well that my manager asked me to do a brown bag session for the VP to come up to speed as well. Let me give you an example of one of these brown bag sessions and how I conducted them…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"So we have a pretty dysfunctional team at work and I’ve gotten to the point where I try as much as possible to avoid meetings and avoid interacting with certain members of the team. That’s what I’m doing to promote peace on the team is to just stay away from the team. At least that’s what works for me…"

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

Further review: know the answers to these 100 Common Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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