Team Building is about more than activities around the office or off-site events. It’s a continuous process that begins during the interview process for new hires.
Teamwork is a skill – one that you should be looking for when interviewing candidates for open positions at your company.
Don’t wait until after you hire someone to find out if they’ll work well as a member of your team. You should be optimizing the interview process to find candidates that understand the importance of teamwork.
Interview for Team Players
The way in which you conduct the interview process can provide a lot of information about the candidate and how well they will work with your team.
Interview With a Team
One of the most important things you can do when interviewing candidates is to involve a team in the process.
Representatives from other departments (preferably departments the candidate will be working with as an employee) should be involved in the interview, and some of the employees the candidate will potentially be working with should be involved as well.
Of course people have work of their own to do and can’t be available for the entire interview process, but the second interview provides a great opportunity to introduce candidates to potential coworkers.
This not only gives employees an opportunity to question the candidate, it provides an opportunity for the candidate to ask questions of them. The questions a candidate asks can reveal much about their abilities to work well with a team (more on this later).
Take Your Time
If you rush through the interview process because you’re in a hurry to fill a position, then unless you get lucky you’re going to hire the wrong person.
You should be conducting at least three rounds of interviews for any position. The initial interview should be about weeding out unqualified candidates and should be relatively short (20-30 minutes).
These interviews are more about finding the 10-15 best candidates out of the (hopefully) hundreds or thousands that applied. Once you have your top candidates, that’s when you bring them in for the second round of interviews and involve a team in the process.
Of course after this there should be a third round for the top 2-3 candidates, where you get more into the day-to-day specifics of the job, take them on the tour, etc…
If you rush this process, you’re going to end up with an employee that isn’t a good fit with your team or your company. Take your time and get to know each candidate before making your decision.
Hire for Character, Not Specific Skills or Experience
Too many companies focus on specific skills or experience, which can eliminate great candidates. It’s more important to find a candidate who will be a good fit on your team and with your corporate culture. Skills can be taught, but attitude is baked in.
Finding a candidate who understands the importance of teamwork and who works well with others will benefit your company more than a solitary expert.
Skills are important, but the decision shouldn’t be made based on that criteria alone. Take your time and find a candidate who knows the job and knows how important teamwork is to the process.
Ask the Right Questions
Knowing how to optimize the interview process to find team players is the first step. The next step is asking the candidates the right questions.
Of course there are job specific questions you need to ask of each candidate, but don’t stop there. Ask questions that allow the candidate to give examples of their attitude towards teamwork.
- Tell us about your biggest accomplishment?
This question isn’t about teamwork specifically, but the answer can tell you a lot about the candidate’s attitude towards teamwork.
- What types of teams you’ve been a part of? What was your role in those teams?
These questions allow the candidate to give you specific examples of working with a team and explaining to you how they fit into that team.
- Tell us how you handled a difficult situation as a member of a team?
Difficult situations can reveal how candidates interact with others. Did they use effective communication to solve the problem? Did they go to their supervisor for help? How they handle a difficult situation tells you much about what kind of an employee they’ll be.
- Have you ever lead a group? How did you handle that responsibility?
This can tell you a lot about how the candidate wields authority, which can tell you about their attitude towards teams. Did they involve the team in decisions, ask for input, and build consensus before making a decision, or did they just assign tasks?
The answers to these questions can reveal a candidate’s ability to work well as a member of a team, and can provide you with valuable insight into how this person deals with coworkers.
Do You Have Any Questions For Us?
Allowing the candidate to ask questions near the end of the interview is about more than providing information. This can be a great time to assess their attitude towards teamwork.
The types of questions they ask let you know if they’ve been paying attention, give you more information about their technical expertise, and can provide you with valuable insight about their attitude about working as a member of a team.
When evaluating candidates for their ability to work well as members of a team, questions like these are all positive signs:
- What do you hop a new hire will bring to the team?
This question shows that the candidate understands that each member of a team brings something unique to the team, and that each member needs to offer skills that make the team stronger.
- What advice would you give to a new teammate?
This questions demonstrates the candidate’s acceptance of advice and/or criticism. They are already looking for ways to be more productive members of the team.
- How does your team collaborate?
- What types of face-to-face meetings does the team prefer?
- What technologies does your team employ to facilitate communication or productivity?
These questions demonstrate a desire for knowledge about the day-to-day workings of the team, and shows that the candidate is ready to jump right in and start contributing.
There is no sure-fire way to pick a candidate with a teamwork mindset, but by optimizing the interview process, asking candidates the right questions, and listening for the right questions, you can learn a great deal about the candidate’s opinion of teamwork and make the best selection for your company and your team.