Summary: There are seven key traits that companies look for in employees to ensure they can be team players when needed.
Individuals who are able to be a team player whenever needed are invaluable to a company. Companies want to know they have hired someone with strong team player traits even if the position does not require an employee to work with others on a daily basis. The reason for this is that job roles are always changing and constantly adapting to the market. Quite often companies hold group meetings first thing in the morning to address the issues or goals of the day, involving everyone, even those in IT.
Strong team members act as the backbone to any team. They are able to pick up the slack when other members fall short. Great team members can be extroverted or introverted; it shouldn’t matter as long as they possess the traits that help maintain the team’s strength and focus. Everyone will inevitably possess different personalities, thus creating a unique team dynamic. You have to be able to find the right personalities that complement each other and that can work well to fully support your company and its projects. The following are seven main traits to look out for in an ideal team player.
This trait refers to someone who is the foundation of a group--centering the group when needed, no matter the situation. This candidate always meets deadlines and does not resort to making up excuses to get out of work.
To find someone with this trait, ask “How do your colleagues rely on you?” and “What do your colleagues reach out to you for?” during interviews. The type of responses you receive will indicate to you what kind of person they are. You want to look out for responses that indicate a positive attitude as well as a desire to be taken seriously by their peers. Someone who fits this trait might pride themselves on the strength of their responsibility, organization, and communication skills—all of which are additional traits to keep in mind that also relate to their reliability and trustworthiness.
Teams need members who are genuine in their interactions. This trait allows for trust to be built within the team. A team without trust will crash and burn quickly. A genuine team member is also someone who cares about their team, listening to the other members' concerns and feelings while still being an active member and contributor.
A question to ask the candidate during an interview is “When was the last time you had a disagreement with a peer?” Follow up with a question about how they solved the situation. Ideally, the candidate has not had disagreements with a team member because they tend to get along well with others, and already have the ability to maintain and build strong professional relationships. If the candidate has had a disagreement with a peer, find out what the disagreement was and how it was handled. This will speak for how this candidate views their team members—another important way to gauge their self-awareness.
Workplaces are ever-changing. You cannot prevent things from changing within your companies. People are different and handle situations differently. When a manager leaves or a department gets reorganized, you need employees who can readily handle the impending change. Imagine a team preparing for a big project that has a member suddenly absent due to a resignation or unforeseen health issues. A team comprised of members who don’t handle change well would panic at the prospect of having a team member missing. Whereas a team filled with members who adapt well to change would know how to pick up the slack and still get the job done.
Questions to ask during an interview include “Describe a major change that occurred in a job that you held. How did you adapt?” You want to hear how that person was able to continue in spite of any obstacles or challenges to their performance.
Nobody wants to work with someone who is not willing to share their knowledge, time, and skills. A team is about working together towards an end result, not about who can get there first. Companies need employees who are willing share what they know with the rest of the team, for the good of the company.
An interview question you can ask to find candidates with this trait is “Can you tell me about a time you helped a teammate solve a problem?” Someone willing to share their experience or knowledge will make a team stronger. Their example will be evident to others on the team and soon they will follow suit—making a supportive company culture.
Every company needs at least one person who is willing to help and try anything. Their can-do attitude motivates the rest of the team, making everyone more productive and optimistic.
Interview questions to ask include “Can you give me an example of a time when you had to go above and beyond in order to get a job done?” or “Can you describe a project or task that you started on your own?” You want to see answers that suggest the candidate does not shy away from a challenge. Some answers to pay close attention to might include their mention of staying after hours or volunteering to work a weekend in order to get a project done ahead of schedule or on time.
Having someone who can come up with processes that will improve workflows and processes for the team or even another part of the company is valuable. They are able to visualize where there is a weakness and find a way to fix and improve it.
During an interview, ask the candidate to describe a time when they solved a problem or came up with a creative idea to help their team or company. Have them explain how they identified the problem and then worked to solve it. The best answers will involve a clear thought process and plan of execution towards a tangible solution.
Being upbeat may not immediately come to mind as a leading trait for team building, but having someone who can help keep the morale of the team up is necessary. Whether the team has to put in long hours or is facing a difficult project, keeping the atmosphere light and hopeful will help the team overall power through to the end. A happy team will feel more comfortable with each other, allowing for honest, candid interactions that also push the team toward their goals.
Determining if someone is a cheerleader shouldn’t be hard based on how they act and talk during an interview. Just in case the person is a tad shy but still upbeat, ask a question like this during an interview, “How have you helped motivate others?”
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