Are You the Team Player that Employers Want?

June 3rd, 2014 | Articles, Interviewing, Job Search | No Comments »

Team Player

Imagine two candidates are interviewing for the same job. Both have identical skills, identical knowledge, and an impressive list of former employers. The difference comes down to their responses. One depicts himself as a lone hunter, not unlike a Bengal tiger chasing down challenges solo. The other depicts herself as a team player, acting like a strong part of a healthy pack.

Who do you think gets the job: the loner or the team player?

You Need to Play Well with Others

In a job interview, your first instinct may be to depict yourself as a singular superstar. After all, you want the hiring manager to value you over other candidates. Yet to leave your previous teamwork unsung is a big mistake.

No job is vacuum sealed. Coworkers, clients, vendors, and the general public all float in and out of your daily interactions. A team player, who can lead and follow in a cooperative atmosphere, is what most employers want.

Hiring managers have an eye out for bad hires. Uncompromising loners tend to get bypassed for those who play well with others. Even if the lion’s share of your work is independent, there will be times when workplace cooperation is critical.

Show Your Team Spirit

Unlike most personality traits, hiring managers won’t directly ask “Are you a team player?” You have to forge your own path and talk up your teamwork on your own. Here’s what to highlight in your interview.

A Strong Part of a Healthy Whole – The Great Pyramids of Giza weren’t erected by one man. The labor of thousands made monuments that resist the erosion of time and the elements. Yet even small scale projects require some level of cooperation.

In a job interview, don’t go the arrogant route. Show that your efforts mattered, but don’t neglect the work of everyone else. A team player doesn’t monopolize the spotlight; he or she gives credit where it’s due.

Being the Peacemaker – Ever mediate disputes with a coworker? It’s the mark of a true team player. Office conflict is toxic and leads to wasted time and money. About 60 to 80 percent of all workplace conflicts stem from strained workplace relationships, so any example of conflict resolution in your past can show that you churn up the waters.

When discussing conflict, spend as little time on the negative as possible. It’s in the past and the solution is always more enticing than how the rift began. In this case, show that you took the lead. It takes the better person to set down a grudge.

Move Towards the Big Picture – Think of a centipede. To go in the right direction, all of this arthropod’s various limbs have to move in the right direction. A successful company isn’t any different. However, it doesn’t have the luxury of being moved by one mind. It’s dependent on teamwork and employees engaged enough to see the end goal.

To convey your big picture vision in a job interview, choose achievements where your leadership is clear. Highlight presentations made, meetings led, and timelines kept through your diligent work. Articulate your former employer’s vision and the multitude of ways you made it happen. Once again, don’t make yourself sound like a one man band. Instead, show that you’re the conductor bringing out the best in the talented folks around you.

by James Walsh

[Photo Credit]

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