Congratulations! You’ve made it past the first round or two of interviews. That means all of your hard work has nearly paid off. The only hurdle left is one final interview.
But when you got the email, you were notified that it is going to be a team interview with several of your potential team members and your new boss.
Realistically, you have two options here. You could panic at having to be in the hot seat with multiple interviewers, or you could embrace the chance to get an in-depth look at whether this team will be a good fit for you. If you choose the second option, we’ve got some tips to help you prepare.
Preparing and Succeeding at Team Interviews
In reality, no matter what position you’re interviewing for, if you’re applying for a team role, there’s a possibility that you will need to participate in a team interview at some point.
And while they may seem daunting at first glance, there’s no need to worry. Using the following tips, you can ace your next team interview.
Do Your Research
If you can, find out who will be on the interviewing panel so you can look them up. The more prepared you are, the more confidently you will present yourself and the more value you’ll add to the discussion.
Before you step into a room for a team interview:
- Research the company.
- Learn about the company’s size, industry, culture, and values.
- Consider what sort of team environment you would thrive in and whether the company offers that.
- Review the job posting and qualifications to get a clear idea of what they are looking for in a candidate.
Recognize the Players
During a traditional interview, there are fewer dynamics at play. It’s generally you and the hiring manager. On the other hand, in a team interview, you’ll need to figure out who’s who.
There will usually be two types of people in the room: the interviewer and the screener. The interviewer is typically the one asking most of the questions, while the screener is there to take notes and evaluate your nonverbal communication.
Once you’ve identified the screener, it’s essential to make eye contact and smile throughout the interview, as they’re looking for cues that you’re friendly and engaged.
With that said, don’t neglect the interviewer—make sure to answer their questions thoughtfully and pay attention to their cues. When all is said and done, they’ll compare notes and discuss your fit for the role, so it’s essential to make a good impression on both.
Know Your Role
If you’re interviewing for a job that involves working as part of a team, it’s essential to try and figure out what role you’ll be playing in the group. Will you be the leader? The follower? The mediator? Knowing your part ahead of time will help you be more prepared for the interview and better able to answer questions about your team skills.
One way to figure out what role you’ll be playing is to take some time to review your research on the company and the job before the interview. That will help you understand what they’re looking for in a candidate.
If the job description mentions leadership qualities, for example, it’s likely that they’re looking for someone who can take charge and manage a team. If they’re looking for someone good at problem-solving, they might want someone who can act as a mediator between team members.
Another way to figure out your role is to pay attention to how the interviewer asks questions about your teamwork skills. If they focus on questions about your ability to lead or motivate others, they might want to see if you have what it takes to be a leader. If they ask more questions about your ability to work well with others and compromise when necessary, they might try to gauge whether you’d be a good follower or mediator.
Be an Active Listener
In any interview, it’s important to be an active listener. But it’s even more essential during a team interview, especially since you might be nervous interacting with multiple team members.
Ensure that you not only listen to what others are saying, but you also pay attention to nonverbal cues, ask for clarification, and try to contribute thoughtfully to the discussion.
The best way to show that you’re an active listener is to ask relevant, open-ended questions. Not only does this demonstrate that you’re engaged in the conversation, but it also allows you to learn more about the team and their work.
As the team members answer you, use your active listening skills to frame your answer and create a natural dialogue.
Ask Relevant Questions
How many questions should you ask in a job interview? The answer varies depending on who you ask. Some career experts will tell you that it’s essential to ask at least one question, while others say you should ask several.
The reality is that there is no magic number of questions to ask. Instead, the key is to focus on quality over quantity, which flows naturally into the conversation. Thoughtful, insightful questions will show that you’re engaged in the discussion and genuinely interested in the job duties and team dynamics.
If you’re unsure what questions to ask, try to avoid asking about things that can be easily found online (e.g., the company’s website) or that have already been covered in other interviews (e.g., the job duties). Instead, focus on asking open-ended questions that will give you a better sense of the team culture and their unique experiences with the organization.
Offer Examples of Teamwork
When interviewing as part of a team, the interviewer will want to see how well you work with others. Be ready to share specific examples of working as a team and your role in that situation.
For example, if you’re applying for a position on a marketing team, an interviewer may want to know when you had to support another team member with their portion of a project to meet a deadline. If you’re applying for a job in sales, the interviewer may want to hear about a time you supported a team member dealing with a demanding customer, even though it didn’t benefit you directly.
In each case, the interviewer is looking for you to demonstrate that you’re able to put the team’s best interests first and work well with others.
Winning at Team Interviews
Though it’s hard not to feel intimidated when you’re facing several people, remember that you’ve already impressed the managers with your credentials and experience.
If you do your research upfront and prepare for the challenges of group dynamics, a team interview becomes a straightforward discussion among peers that you can navigate with confidence.
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