Answering Interview Questions: Working with a Team or on Your Own?

Working with a team“What are you more comfortable with: working with a team or on your own?” This is a typical yet tricky job interview question. Your answer to this question will help your interviewer assess your communication and social abilities.


Teamwork is most often regarded as collaboration of many people who work cooperatively to achieve a common goal. People who work in a team believe that thinking, planning, making decisions, and taking action are done more effectively in a group setting.

On the other hand, working alone can be more beneficial for other people. They seem to be more productive and their minds are more active when they work on their own.

Your interviewer will be interested in your preferences when working, and this question will help him or her to get that information. He or she would like to know whether you’re a team player or would rather work on your own, and this is important for a number of reasons:

  • The interviewer wants to know if the environment will affect your ability to get the work done;
  • The interviewer would like to know if you are well suited to the job according to your preferred way of getting the work done; and
  • The interviewer wants to assess your interpersonal skills.

So, how do you answer this question?

1. Research the position.

Before you dive into the interview, it would be best to do your research on the position you’re applying to so that you can provide an appropriate answer.

If you find out that you’ll be working alone more frequently, you can say that you prefer working alone but you wouldn’t mind working with a team every once in a while and that you’d be glad to learn from other people. 

If, on the other hand, you find out that you’re going to work with a team, you can say that you enjoy working with a group, but would also be able to handle personal responsibilities of doing something alone.

2. Stay positive.

The general idea in answering this question is to say what you prefer without being negative in regard to the other option. 

If it happens that you find out in your research that you will be dealing with both situations (working on your own and with a team), you can say that there would be no problem whether they put you in a group or they tell you to work on your own. However, the interviewer might insist on knowing what your preference would be. In that case, choose what really makes you more productive and what is more convenient for you, but be careful about making negative comments about the other option. Be positive about both options at all times.

3. Reassure your interviewer.

After you’ve given your answer, the interviewer will either give you a follow-up question or proceed to the next question, but usually he or she will simply proceed to the next one. Just be sure that you’ve made him or her realize that you can work either way. Make the hiring manager feel good about hiring you.

Learning to be productive while working on your own and being a team player at the same time is a major asset that can help convince a company to hire you. If you’re comfortable with both situations, it is important that you indicate that. However, it may be the case that you prefer one type of working environment over the other. If so, just be honest, but indicate your flexibility and adaptability as an employee and make sure to stay positive.

Read 5513 times Last modified on Tuesday, 08 March 2016 18:52
Alan Carniol

Alan is the creator of Interview Success Formula, a training program that has helped more than 80,000 job seekers to ace their interviews and land the jobs they deserve. Interviewers love asking curveball questions to weed out job seekers. But the truth is, most of these questions are asking about a few key areas. Learn more about how to outsmart tough interviewers by watching this video.