How to Answer: What does teamwork mean to you?

Every organization’s basic structural unit is a small team. In every corporate job, you will work in a team, whether you like the idea or not. And I am certain you have had your fair share of “teamwork” experiences. Conflicts between team members, one person doing all the work while others laze around, managers flirting with subordinates, people playing all sorts of mischievous games to gain a promotion or some other advantage at the expense of others. Because we are human beings with desires, goals, and errors, this is the reality of teamwork in the vast majority of corporations. However, what do hiring managers want to hear when they inquire about your teamwork?

First, they want to know that you enjoy being a member of the team. In addition, they want to hear a few forceful adjectives that demonstrate how important teamwork is to you and that you welcome the opportunity to be part of a hardworking team. But that does not mean you must necessarily state it. You can give them something to think about, provide an unorthodox response, or even say that teamwork has no meaning to you because you’ve been a lone wolf for the past decade.

Let’s examine seven sample responses to the question. I attempted to include diverse answers on my list. Hopefully, you will find at least one that resonates with you, your concept of teamwork, or the message you are attempting to convey during the interviews. Do not forget to check the notes for additional hints and explanations after reviewing the answers. The responses should be applicable to any variation of the same question, such as “How do you define teamwork?”

Interview questions answered: What does teamwork mean to you?

5 examples of responses to the question, “What does teamwork mean to you?” interview question

Example Answer 1

More than anything else, it represents an opportunity to learn and to share successes and failures with my coworkers. I am just beginning my career in this field, and I am well aware that school cannot prepare me for the challenges of a real job. Consequently, I welcome the opportunity to work in a team, the chance to gain knowledge from more seasoned colleagues, and, if not knowledge, at least motivation and a positive attitude. I cannot wait to commence.

Example Answer 2

Teamwork means responsibility to me. You cannot afford to put in only fifty or seventy percent effort when you are collaborating with other team members towards a common objective, and when the success of the team, and possibly the salaries of all team members, depends on your ability to perform your duties, meet your deadlines, etc. At least, I cannot because I do not wish to disappoint others. In my opinion, working in a team increases the productivity of each individual team member, particularly if the relationships within the team are positive and people get along well. And I hope to work in such a team, as well as contribute to positive relationships with my demeanor.

Example Answer 3

Honestly, based on my past experiences, I associate teamwork with difficulty. I have not had much luck with good teams. Numerous conflicts, people playing their own games, everyone attempting to impress the managers without looking to the left or right or caring about the other members of the team. However, I have only held two jobs to date, so I cannot say whether or not this is the norm. And I hope that this is not a typical team environment, as I am aware that people form teams in the workplace and that one cannot be an isolated unit unless one is a lighthouse keeper. However, that is not my ideal profession. Therefore, if you ask me now, I would say that teamwork is a struggle. But I sincerely hope that in a year I will be able to speak another definition.

Example Answer 4

Every great result is the result of teamwork. This sentence encompasses the essence of my definition of teamwork. I’ve worked in project management for many years. And I have learned that the greatest asset of any business is its people. If there are exceptions — and you can certainly find a few — they only prove the rule. Therefore, teamwork is everything, and as a manager I always strive to create the best possible environment in my team, ensuring that everyone gets along and cooperates rather than competes.

Example Answer 5

It has no significance to me at this time. Or, to be more specific, it has always been a remote possibility. As a freelance programmer, I was aware of its existence but never had the chance to experience it. Today, however, I am here to change that. Sincerely, I am exhausted by working alone, never meeting anyone, and rarely leaving the house. I want to experience a typical agile team’s daily hassles while working in a corporate setting. I am aware that the ride will not be easy on most days. People have disagreements, people are simply people, and as a longtime social outsider, I may find it difficult to simply integrate into a team. As previously stated, however, life is change, and I am willing to give this a try.

End your response on a positive note.

There are numerous possible teamwork experiences, and it is acceptable to describe a negative one. Ultimately, it may have been the primary reason you left your previous job. However, you should always strive to end your response on a positive note.

Perhaps you had poor relationships with your coworkers. They exploited your idealism or your hardworking nature. You did all the work, but they received all the praise because they knew exactly what to say and when to say it in team meetings. Or, your manager was a complete moron, and you could no longer work alongside them.

In one way or another, reassure them that you are not permanently bitter. You still believe that teamwork can be effective, and that with the right group, you can achieve goals that you could never accomplish on your own. Attempt to conclude your description of teamwork with something optimistic.

Do not forget to highlight your team role.

It’s great to be a member of a strong team and to benefit from the efforts of other team members. However, the best employees are also interested in giving back. Inform the hiring managers of your desired contributions to the team.

Certainly, teamwork is beneficial; it’s helpful to have someone to share tasks with. But you want to be the one in whom others can confide their struggles, the one who is willing to lend a hand to their coworkers, and the one who will go above and beyond to bring the entire team to the next level.

And even if you are unable to do so due to your position or level of experience, you should at least bring a positive attitude and motivation. You are not merely interested in being a member of a great team.

You want to actively contribute to the team’s success. This is the attitude that hiring managers look for in the most qualified job candidates. Keep this in mind when answering teamwork-related interview questions.

Athina Iliadis is a Human Resources Professional with over 25 years’ experience in corporate environments working for companies such as Pearson, LexisNexis, Hershey, and Reckitt. In her current role as a consultant working with clients around the world, she coaches managers and employees on HR issues, supports leaders in their business, produces content about careers, interviews, and job opportunities. She is fluent in English, French and Greek, and she holds a BBA with a major in HR from Université du Québec à Montréal. Find her on LinkedIn and at

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