These days, one of the most valued workplace qualities is the ability to be a team player. That's because well-functioning teams are usually the foundation of success in almost every type of enterprise.
Because the world of work is becoming increasingly cooperative, it's usually a good idea to ensure new hires can be team players. By tweaking your recruiting process to increase the chances of hiring excellent teammates, your organization will not only survive but flourish in this new collaborative environment.
A brand-new definition of teamwork
Once upon a time, management experts defined a team player as someone who goes along with everything a company does and says without voicing the slightest objection. However, in a more contemporary age with newer workplace realities, this is no longer a viable way to look at teamwork.
Today's team players are individuals who can provide insightful feedback to peers. They can also raise questions about long-held corporate concepts without other people getting all worked up. They also have a keen ability to question antiquated business processes without killing the team spirit.
In other words, the new way to be a team player comes with a side helping of robust yet benevolent criticism.
5 tactics to help you recruit the ideal team player
Ask the right questions
Let's say your organization needs to accomplish strategic initiatives with many moving parts. In that case, you'll probably want to hire candidates who can be excellent team players. To do this, you might need to tweak your interviewing skills.
When you do, you'll be able to tell the difference between someone who's a team player and someone who's only in it for their ego. The trick is asking the questions that'll elicit the tell-tale indicators that an applicant has a team player mindset.
Ask questions to ascertain much credit the candidate gives themselves for past successes and how much they're willing to give to others. For example, you might say, "What was your role, and what were your teammates' roles?"
You might even ask a trick question, such as "How do you like working alone?" If they say "I love it," you know this person isn't going to be much of a team player.
Some employees who are talented individual contributors also happen to be horrible team players. People like this have a pathological inability to acknowledge the hard work others make towards completing a project.
Here are some questions to pose to candidates to gauge whether they're team players:
What does it mean to be an exceptional team player?
This is an opportunity to let them tell you how they see teamwork. See if they talk about why partnership is beneficial for an organization or if the conversation is only about the extraordinary way they lead teams.
Suppose they wax rhapsodic about the benefits of teamwork and sound genuinely passionate about it. In that case, they might be the kind of exceptional team player you'll want to hire.
Do you prefer working on your own, or are you happier in a team?
You might be surprised how many individuals will blurt out the truth when you ask them a direct question. Some people say they prefer to work alone, hoping you'll give them assignments where they can revel in solitary bliss. Others might say it depends on the task and the people involved.
Can you describe a time when you had to work as part of a team to complete a particularly challenging task?
See if your candidate can talk about a time where they pulled together with others to accomplish the near impossible. This is the kind of person you'll want to have on your team when there are seemingly intractable problems to tackle.
Have you ever disagreed with your supervisor or co-worker? How did you deal with it?
As was already mentioned, good team players need to speak up on occasion. This helps an organization avoid creating an army of bootlickers and sycophants.
If your candidate has had a dispute with a colleague that was handled civilly, consider this a good sign. However, if they say they've never disagreed with anyone in a job, they're either unbelievably passive or fibbing.
Have you worked on several small teams at once?
Being a consummate team multitasker isn't for the faint of heart. Yet, it might be something you're looking for if you need your new hire to assume simultaneous roles.
What kinds of strategies would you use to motivate your team?
This is an excellent question to ask if you need top-notch leadership talent that has an innate gift for inspiring others to do their best. This is the kind of individual who makes it a point to recognize team members' contributions privately, with informal "thank you" emails and other tokens of appreciation.
However, even more importantly, they also do it publicly at staff meetings and company events.
Track how often they use "We" vs. "I"
Consider how frequently candidates use the words "we" or "us" versus "I." For example, a true team player would say, "We were able to cut expenses" rather than "I was able to cut costs."
Be on the lookout for essential traits
It can be challenging to see if a candidate has these traits during an interview. However, look for them anyway:
A team player is able to share their skills and knowledge with everyone instead of having an arrogant "to each his own" attitude. This helps cultivate an environment where everyone sees everyone else as collaborative partners.
Possesses humility in spades
A team player isn't ruled by their ego. By treating everyone on their team with the utmost respect, they make success a collective endeavor. This is someone who can prioritize their team over individual success.
Has well-developed emotional intelligence
Good team players with highly developed emotional intelligence can understand the people around them. They do this by actively listening and asking questions.
Emotionally intelligent team members are better able to empathically discuss interpersonal problems. They're able to consider the other person's point of view and vent frustrations and concerns before they snowball into major issues.
This is an excellent skill to have, particularly in situations where even relatively minor conflicts can create costly work stoppages.
Creates solutions that benefit the whole
When interviewing prospective candidates, look for individuals willing to lend a helping hand to improve organizational processes. These are the kind of employees who aren't just looking for narcissistic self-gratification but have a burning desire to make a contribution that benefits everyone.
Has the ability to motivate others
It's crucial to hire someone who's not only energized but also has an intrinsic ability to motivate others to do their best work. These are the people you can count on to keep morale up and act as cheerleaders for your organization.
Question job history
An applicant's job history can often provide clues about their ability to be a team player. To do this, try to uncover the parts of their previous experience where they demonstrated they worked well as a cohesive team member.
Watch out for red flags
There are several red flags to watch out for when interviewing prospective employees. For example, while virtually every candidate will claim to be a team player, they should back up the rhetoric with concrete examples. If they offer what sounds to be overly rehearsed, bland answers, ask for instances that support their glib responses.
Another thing to look out for is a lack of humility. If the applicant seems arrogant, you probably shouldn't add them to your team. These people will be a bad fit because they resist other people's opinions and don't take constructive criticism well.
Steer clear of individuals who disparage their peers or are always looking to pin the blame on them. They won't collaborate well, nor will they respect other people's work. Bringing them on board is just asking for trouble.
Good team players don't trumpet their personal victories and achievements at the expense of others. If their whole life is nothing but one big ego trip, pass on the opportunity to hire them.
Hire ideal team players with Hunt Club
Hunt Club can help you source, recruit, and hire top-tier talent.
If being an excellent team player is an essential skill your prospective employees need, we can include that in our repertoire of necessary capabilities when finding high-caliber candidates.
Get started today!