When an interviewer is trying to understand your ability to work in groups, he or she may ask about a time that you worked with someone who didn’t do their part.
This question touches on a problem that is common during group projects. Your answer can speak to your ability to work collaboratively and resolve minor issues with your co-workers. The interviewer may want to confirm that your style isn’t overly confrontational or too passive. The interviewer may also be looking to learn more about your communication and conflict resolution skills.
Points to Emphasize
Your answer should focus on your ability to proactively handle this type of problem without placing blame on others. Try to incorporate this information into your answer:
- Describe the steps that you took to bring up the issue in a productive, non-confrontational manner.
- Touch on the traits or skills that helped you work toward a resolution.
- Explain what you did to make sure that the work ultimately was finished on time.
- Detail any arrangements that you made with the person to head off similar issues in the future.
Make sure to focus on the productive role that you played in resolving the situation, rather than dwelling on the problem itself.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Questions about workplace conflicts or issues can be difficult to answer correctly. Be careful that you avoid the following traps and mistakes:
- Don’t speak negatively about the person who didn’t pull his or her weight.
- Avoid suggesting that you dislike working in groups and dealing with situations such as this one.
- Do not give an answer that implies you usually pass problems on to managers or other people.
- Try not to create the impression that you are reluctant to bring up problems or address issues proactively.
By describing the situation in a positive light, you can give your interviewer confidence that you can competently handle this common workplace issue.
You could respond effectively to this question with an answer like this one:
During a recent project, one co-worker regularly failed to complete his assigned tasks by the necessary deadlines. I explained to him privately that this resulted in other people on the team picking up his work, in addition to their own, which felt unfair. I asked if there was a reason for this issue and he explained that he couldn’t keep up with the deadlines because his knowledge of the relevant software wasn’t strong. We arranged for training and additional support so that he could work more efficiently.
Keep in mind that personal questions like this one provide a great opportunity to show an interviewer that you’re the right choice for the job.