Top-rated collaboration interview questions (A study by IVQ)

Get ahead of the competition by preparing for your interview with our comprehensive list of popular questions on the topic of collaboration.

Top-rated collaboration interview questions (A study by IVQ)
Get ahead of the competition by preparing for your interview with our comprehensive list of popular questions on the topic of collaboration.

In order to assess whether any prospective employee will be a good fit for the company, it's important to ask interview questions about collaboration.

To help employers identify the best candidates for positions that require teamwork and for interview candidates to be better prepared for questions related to the topic of collaboration, we've compiled a list of top-rated interview questions and ideas on collaboration.

How to spot a great collaborator and how you can demonstrate the characteristics of a collaborative team member during your job interview

The 3 pillars of collaboration

'Collaboration' – what it really means

A great collaborator is someone who is able to work well with others, communicate effectively, and be flexible in their approach. They are also able to take direction and feedback from others.

'Collaboration' – how to show you've got it

To demonstrate these characteristics of collaboration during your job interview, you can talk about a time when you had to work closely with others on a project. This needs to be specific. Describe the role you played in the team and how you helped contribute to its success. Mention names, activities, ideas and actions.

You can also mention a time when you had to compromise or adjust your plans based on feedback from colleagues or clients. This will show that you’re willing to listen and adapt in order to achieve the best results.

To show you've got the essence of collaboration, it is key you substantiate (back up) your examples and stories with concrete data and add emotion to your explanation to make it convincing. Details are absolutely necessary; unlike regular common interview questions, the topic of collaboration is specific, so your answer likewise needs a good level of specificity.

'Collaboration' – key characteristics

When looking for a great collaborator, you should consider three key characteristics: communication, trustworthiness, and respect.

First, effective collaborators are excellent communicators. They know how to listen attentively and ask clarifying questions when needed. They also understand the importance of timely communication and will keep you updated on their progress or any changes that need to be made.

Second, you can trust a great collaborator to follow through on their commitments. If they say they’re going to do something, you can count on them to do it. This reliability creates a foundation of trust that is essential for successful collaboration.

Finally, mutual respect is critical for any collaborative relationship – without it, things will quickly break down. Great collaborators treat their team members with courtesy and consideration at all times.

In a job interview, assessors tend to take the time to understand in depth to ensure they completely understand the person's profile. Thus, such questions on collaboration are typically in-depth and take significant time on the interviewer's part. As a result, collaboration questions are usually asked in the second or third round of the application process.

From our investigation and detailed study, InterviewQn (IVQ) has compiled a list of popular questions asked by interviewers worldwide to assess a job candidate's ability to collaborate effectively.

There are 5 sections, reaching 3 levels of depth in our list below.

In each section, there is a series of questions which should be asked sequentially to extract more details from the interviewee. This allows the interviewing assessor to understand the duration of collaboration (both inside and outside the candidate's job scope; a plus if it was continuous and sustained), degree of involvement the candidate participated in and the levels of teamwork effectiveness.

3 levels of workplace collaboration showing the extent and depth of a candidate's participation

For these 5 sections elaborated below, we start with the most popular question set on collaboration:

  1. Can you describe a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different from yours? How did their personality affect your degree of cooperation with him or her? What do you do when you and another team member disagree on how to approach a project? How did you coordinate that situation?
  2. Tell me about a time when you had to compromise in order to reach an agreement with another person or group. What was your participation? Did you reciprocate, show any flexibility in your work or work hours? Was there any compromise, negotiation or pushback involved? What was the eventual outcome of that situation? What do you think of harmonious collaboration and symbiotic, constructive relationship when working with others in a team?
  3. Can you think of an instance where your team faced an obstacle, and how did everyone work together in order to overcome it? How did you share and redistribute the strengths (competencies) and openly share (without fear or reproach) individual weaknesses as a team to achieve synergy?
  4. Tell me about a time when you had to give critical feedback to a coworker. How did you handle it? What was their response and how did you react to their behaviour? How did their actions affect your joint effort in achieving your team's goals overall?
  5. What is your experience working on teams? Describe a team project that you spearheaded as a leader and another project where you were a contributor (or follower). What was your role and how did the project turn out? Have you ever worked on a group project where not everyone pulled their weight? How did you deal with it?

Best interview questions on collaboration used by HR assessors that are most predictive of success when it comes to collaborating with others

Core ideas behind interview questions on collaboration and teamwork

In this section, we list the best, short-answer interview questions on collaboration asked often by HR.

  1. Can you think of an instance where your team achieved something great because everyone worked together effectively? What do you think made the team gel so well?
  2. Tell me about a time when you needed to get buy-in from others in order to achieve success on a project. How did you go about doing that?
  3. We all have moments where we struggle to see eye-to-eye with our colleagues - can you share an experience of this happening, and how it was resolved eventually?
  4. How do you approach team collaboration if a member leaves the team? The exit could be sudden (due to corporate reallocation of resources, or was fired due to external reasons and is now more mentally preoccupied with getting another job) or gradual (a contributor decides to tender and starts to serve his notice while still attached to the project).
  5. What is your experience with teamwork?
  6. Tell me about a time when you had to resolve a conflict within a team.
  7. Describe a project that required input from multiple people or departments - how did you go about coordinating everyone involved?
  8. Share a time where you gave up on an intermediate team goal and explain your thoughts in reacting to such an event.
  9. Think of a situation where it would have been helpful to have had more collaboration from others - what could have been done differently?

The importance of sharing your collaborative experience in your past work experiences with insightful stories and highlighting your contributions

Your past work experiences are a great way to show potential employers what you're capable of. When you share your collaborative experience, it shows that you're able to work well with others and that you're willing to contribute to the success of a team. Highlighting your contributions in your past work experiences will give employers a better idea of the value you can bring to their organization.

When you're applying for a new job, it's important to organise your thoughts and share relevant collaborative experience in your past work experiences. This shows potential employers that you're able to work well with others and contribute positively to a team.

To do this effectively, tell stories about your past collaboration experiences and highlight what you did that was helpful or made a difference.

For example, if you led a project successfully, mention how you brought the team together and got everyone working towards the same goal. If you resolved conflicts between team members, talk about how you were able to find common ground and get everyone back on track.

Sharing these kinds of insights will give potential employers confidence that you're someone who can be an asset to their team. So when describing your collaborative experience in past jobs, make sure to paint a picture of yourself as a positive force who gets results through teamwork.


In our closing thoughts, we hope that this article has given you some insight into the top-rated collaboration interview questions. We encourage you to use these questions as a guide in your own interviews, and to continue to research the topic of collaboration in order to find new and innovative ways to improve your team's performance.

Overall, you want to come across as confident, yet not cocky. You also want to be prepared with thoughtful answers that show you've done your research on the company and position.

Here are a few final tips:

  • Don't go into the interview cold. Review common collaboration questions and have thoughtful answers prepared.
  • Be confident without coming across as arrogant. Highlight your successes and back them up with examples.
  • Do your homework on the company beforehand so you can ask informed questions about their business model and specific needs for this role.

All the best, you are ready for the interview.

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