How To Answer “What Makes a Great Team?”

When applying for a job role that requires teamwork or leadership, you may encounter the following interview question: What makes a great team?Other similar questions are “What makes good teamwork?” OR “Can you tell me about a thriving team experience?” Take a look at our example answer!

The reason why interviewers ask this question is to get a better understanding of your personality and experience working in a team. The interviewer is curious about the challenges you’ve faced and what you consider as priorities and your approach to team working.

Example Answer (With Experience)

“Well, I think it must have all the features of a good team, like,  effective communication, clear objectives, accountability, trustability etc. I think it’s also the things permeating underneath that makes a ‘great’ team different from simply a ‘good’ team.

In my previous role as a [Job title] for example, I was part of a successful marketing team that month-on-month reached its promotional and growth goals. Our hands-on and supportive manager played a significant role in this success. 

He scheduled team meetings twice a week, encouraged us to come up with new creative ways of improving our marketing campaigns, gave us confidence to push hard as a team and was always the last one leaving the office.”

Example Answer (No Experience)

“I’m happy you asked this question. I recently read an interesting article about Google’s ‘Project Aristotle’. Have you heard about it? Basically, Google spent 2 years and a huge amount of resources doing research over 180 teams to find out the answer to this interview question. 

So according to this study, there are 5 factors common to effective teams, including dependability, meaning, impact, structure or clarity and the most important one: ‘psychological safety’. Apparently, many people are afraid to speak up, disagree or embrace conflict. 

Study shows that a great team consists of team members that feel comfortable sharing ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes without the fear of feeling embarrassed or punished. The results also show that, by ensuing discussion with a facilitator, this shared belief can be accomplished.”

Interview Question Tips

  • Don’t simply list the qualities of a good team, but provide context. The interviewer is not interested in hearing a scripted or rehearsed 10 characteristics of a successful team.
  • Do speak about a constructive team culture. Provide an example where team members are encouraged to be creative, embrace challenges, work hard and interact with each other.