Hire the Captain of the Bowling Team


Most hiring managers think they know the best qualities to look for when hiring good team players. When working on a security search engagement where the employer has told me they “need a real team player” I then ask them what that means to them. Most often the reply I receive is the employer is seeking candidates who have good communications skills, are reliable, and have pleasing personalities…somebody who is easy to get along with.

While these are great qualities, they don’t guarantee that someone will function well in a team environment. In fact, according to the results of a recent survey 89 percent of the time new hires fail due to attitude. This includes “a lack of coachability, low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation, and temperament.”

To find good team players, it’s important to learn about a candidate’s hands-on experience. As many experts will tell you, past behavior often predicts future behavior.

Look for a Former Athlete

If you want to find someone who is a good team player, find candidates involved in organized sports. Whether they played baseball in little league, football in high school, or bowled on the college bowling team, they already understand what it takes to make a team successful.

Even people who grow up participating in extracurricular group activities – cheerleading, debate, choir – learn very quickly how to get along. If they don’t, they find themselves off the team. 

Add a Veteran to the Team 

One of the top skills required of those who serve in the armed services is the ability to work with others by acting in concert. That requires unity, discipline, and focus. However, most of all it requires trust. Knowing that your teammates have your back regardless of the situation is the foundation for military life. 

Ask about Past Team Experiences 

While someone may include their sports or military experience in their resume, there are other ways to gain team experience. It’s the job of the recruiter or hiring manager to uncover it. The best way is through the type of interview questions you ask.

It’s easy to answer yes or no to simple questions such as “Are you a team player?” Open-ended questions, on the other hand, require candidates to provide proof. Here are several you might consider asking:

  • Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team? Why?
  • Describe a time when a teammate didn’t fulfill an obligation. What did you do?
  • What team project are you most proud of and why?
  • Give an example of a successful work project. What was your role? Why was the project successful?

It takes time and a bit of digging to determine if someone really has what it takes. However, with patience and these three tips, you’re in a better position for hiring good team players.

For more assistance on finding the best candidates for your team, review our website, read our blog, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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