How Do You Interview for Teamwork?

“There is just something about this candidate that I can’t put my finger on,” Wendy was skeptical. “Everything checks out. This person has the technical skills, the necessary experience, seems enthusiastic, but there is something. On paper, this person should be hired, but my gut is telling me otherwise.”

“You have covered the bases on my list,” I replied. “But I would trust your intuition. Which is it?

  • Capability
  • Skill
  • Interest, Passion (value for the work)
  • Reasonable Behavior

“Which is it?”

“What do you mean, reasonable behavior?” Wendy wanted to know.

“It’s important what a person knows, technical knowledge. It’s important how a person feels toward the work, interest or passion. But to complete the tasks in the role, the person has to do something. It’s about behavior. Are there habits that people have that contribute to their effectiveness? Like always showing up early for work?”

“Yes, habits are important,” Wendy agreed.

“And do we have cultural norms for our behavior in the work that we do around here?”

Wendy nodded. “I think you got it. That’s it. We have a very strong team culture. Every company says teamwork is important, but around here, it is critical. Some of the work we do is dangerous. Every person here depends on their team members to work safely. Their lives depend on it.”

“So, if culture is that unwritten set of rules that governs our behavior in the work that we do together, what does your intuition tell you about this candidate?” I asked.

“Everything story the candidate told was about himself. I mean, the interview was obviously about the candidate, but every accomplishment seems like it was single-handedly performed. I never heard the word ‘we’ during the whole interview.”

“So, your intuition is telling you something, related to reasonable behavior. What additional questions do you want to ask?”

“Working together as a team is a critical role requirement,” Wendy explained. “I need to know how this candidate works with other people. It is as important as any of the technical skills.”

“What questions will you ask?”

“Thinking out loud, here is my list,” Wendy replied.

  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a project where teamwork was important?
  • What was the project?
  • What was the purpose of the project?
  • How long was the project?
  • How many people were on your team?
  • What was your role on the team?
  • What were the factors that made teamwork important?
  • What were the factors that put pressure on the team to work together?”
  • When the team worked well together, what were they doing?
  • When the team began to crack, when they didn’t work well together, what were they doing?
  • What was the outcome of the project?”
  • Tell me about another project, where teamwork was important?

“That ought to be a good start.” she smiled.
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I need some help from iPad users. How many of you are buying books out of the iBookstore as opposed to the Kindle app for iPad? Hiring Talent is available on Kindle, but I am thinking about publishing through the iBookstore.

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