When an HR professional asks specific questions to determine your candidacy for a position, they may ask you if you are a people person, or they may ask you something like, “How well do you work alone or with others?”
It may seem as if the interviewer is trying to decide if you are a team player. However, they are really looking for more specific information as to how well you’d blend in with the company’s culture and position you are interviewing for. They want to know more about your social style and how you interact with others at work.
Points to Emphasize
This is not a trick question, so don’t overthink it. Be prepared to be as honest as possible.
- Demonstrate in your answer your sociability and ability to work alone. Emphasize your skills, abilities and personality traits that enable you to interact well with others.
- Talk about an experience that showcases your ability to get along with others. Also, be prepared to talk about an experience where you excelled at an independent work project.
- Tailor your response so that it’s relevant to the position you are interviewing for.
- Talk about an experience that highlights your teamwork experience in addition to any other important skills that can give you an edge for the position.
Employers want to hire a candidate that is capable of adapting and working well alone and with others.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Employers are looking for candidates that are well-rounded and able to handle themselves professionally and appropriately in any type of social situation.
- Do not be judgmental or critical of others.
- Try to avoid negative language. Instead use words, such as challenge or problem when describing tough situations and people.
- Do not describe yourself as someone who cannot handle themselves or conflict when necessary.
- Do not get carried away with your response. Your response should be concise and relevant to the position you are interviewing for.
If you have encountered conflict when working with others, let the interviewer know. But be prepared to do so in a positive manner that shows that you like people and enjoy working with them.
The example below is a good way to respond to the question:
I work well with others and value their presence and contributions when working on collaborative projects. After all, we all need to be able to work together to succeed. I am also very approachable and always willing to help and support my coworkers when needed.
Keep in mind that the interviewer’s goal is to find someone who is flexible in their ability to work alone and with others.