Are You Hiring Good Team Players?

By Candace Fisher, SPHR, Director, Organizational Development/Certified Coach
Published June 11, 2019

With the job and recruiting market as challenging as it is, some hiring managers may be tempted to hire the first qualified candidate they find. Making a timely decision and an expedient offer to a candidate are certainly important. But it is equally important to ensure that you’re hiring the right candidate – a candidate who wants to work in your organization and with your team.

team of employees working togetherWhen determining the right fit of a candidate, we don’t just look for someone who has the right skills and qualifications. We need to find a candidate with the right attitude and desire to be a part of our team. All too often I talk with Association members who have concerns about staff who do good quality work but can’t get along with their colleagues. Customers may love them, but they treat fellow staff members poorly.  

Teamwork drives your organization toward better results. When individuals work effectively with each other, they cooperate, collaborate, and contribute toward each other’s – and the team’s success.  The improved morale not only makes the workplace more pleasant, but it improves productivity.  

Qualities of a good team player include:

  • Empathy and understanding of others’ unique strengths;
  • Interest in engaging in meaningful conversations, questions, and debate to improve the team’s processes and outcomes
  • Productive conflict resolution skills, which enable team members to resolve issues before they escalate and become real problems;
  • The ability to provide constructive, meaningful feedback to others;
  • The willingness and ability to accept and use feedback to improve; and 
  • The desire to prioritize the needs and the benefits to the team over their individual needs or success.

How can we tell if someone will exhibit these qualities and be a good team player? The best way to predict future team performance is by assessing the candidate’s previous performance on teams or by asking behavior-based questions. If individuals have been successful working in teams before, they will probably be able to repeat those behaviors. A few examples of questions you can ask:

  • Tell me about a time you worked with a colleague with whom you didn’t get along or with whom you disagreed. How did you handle it?
    In this response you’re looking for good conflict resolution skills and the willingness to deal with conflict rather than avoiding it.  
  • Describe a challenging problem on which you worked in a team.  What was your role and what did you achieve?
    Their response and how they word it will be telling.  While it’s important to be a successful contributor to the team’s results, did they take credit for the entire team’s success or did they appropriately give credit to their team members?  Using “we” or “the team” when talking about achievements can show the importance of the team over their individual ego.
  • Describe a time when a team you were on failed to meet a goal or a deadline or when the results were less positive than expected. What went wrong?
    The ability to deal with and learn from failure is critical.  It is vital that team members accept personal responsibility for their role in the outcome and not place blame or throw other team members “under the bus.”
  • How have you worked with coworkers who have different personalities and work styles?
    In the workplace, we must adapt our personal styles and preferences in order to be successful. A team member will be most successful if they can identify their own style and the styles of others, and they are willing to adapt their own behaviors to meet the needs of others.

We need to hire the best candidate, not only for their exceptional job skills, but also for the good of the team. If you would like to explore how to find the best fit for your team – in a legal and productive way, HR Source is offering Interviewing and Hiring: Finding the Right Fit on July 17, 2019. For more information or to register, visit our Training Calendar or call 800-448-4584.


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