How To Answer “Have You Been On a Team Where Someone Is Not Pulling Their Weight?”

Do you have an upcoming job interview? Make sure you know how to answer the question: “Have you been on a team where someone is not pulling their weight and how you addressed the situation?” OR “Describe a time when you had to deal with somebody in a work situation who you felt was not pulling their weight or working as part of the team?

There are several reasons why the interviewer might as you this interview question:

  1. To find out how much experience you have in resolving teamwork issues
  2. Check out your ability to communicate and interact with other people
  3. To evaluate your ability to manage stress and remain calm
  4. If you got the ability of being self-assured and confident

Use the STAR method to structure your answer to behavioural interview questions.

#1 Example Answer

Situation: “I have experienced this situation a few times in college, but over the years I have learned how to deal with underperforming team members. For example, in my last semester I was assigned to collaborate in a 4-person team to write a business plan for [Company XYZ].

Task: Each member was assigned to complete approximately 25% of the report which had to be uploaded on Google Drive one week before the final deadline. However, it became apparent that one member could not finish his portion of the report on time. 

Action: I arranged a short one-on-one meeting and asked what was holding him back. I also explained my concerns in regards to the time frame. Due to personal reasons he felt overwhelmed by the workload and was afraid to address this issue with our team. 

Result: As a result, I revised the report with the entire team and we managed to submit the report on time. What I have learned from this experience, is to always check up on the wellbeing of a slacking team member, check the project status and find a solution to the problem.

#2 Example Answer

“I had several group projects in college where I had to deal with unresponsive, uncooperative or lazy group members. When discussing the project and assigning roles, I make sure that everyone feels like they are ‘important’ by asking what they are good at (e.g. editor, researcher, designer). I also encourage everyone to use the most user-friendly project management tool called ‘Trello’. This intuitive and easy-to-use management interface helps everyone on the team visualize task progress. If there is still someone not pulling their weight, I’d certainly check up on the well-being of him or her, but I’d spend most of my energy on clear communication, getting the assignment back on track and completing it.”

Interview Question Tips

  • Don’t focus on the team member that is not pulling their weight, but instead inform the reader what you did to address and solve the problem for a positive outcome
  • Don’t say you’ve never experienced this situation, that will only prove your lack of experience working in groups
  • Do provide an example that shows your empathy and understanding for someone’s problem
  • Do show your ability to ignore negative emotions, remain calm and productive attitude
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