How to spot ideal team players? Assessment of teamwork skills

Teamwork is one of the crucial skills employers recruit for as it indicates how smoothly and effectively we operate within a group.

Even though anyone can learn great teamwork skills via gaining relevant experience, it is fair to say that some people are better at teamwork than others.

What do these people look like?

Group of Multiethnic Business People in MeetingThe founder of The Table Group and the author of 11 books on organisational culture, Patrick Lencioni, says that individuals, who add immediate value in a team environment, have three qualities or virtues in common: they are humble, hungry and smart. Let’s have a look at each quality in turn:


This virtue is the most important of those three qualities as it creates the solid foundation of whether the person is willing to put the team’s interests above his or her own. Humble individuals share credit, emphasize the team over self and define success collectively.


The second virtue refers to the desire to work hard, make a difference and get things done. Hungry employees are self-motivated and diligent.


The third and final virtue of an ideal team player has nothing to do with intelligence but it is all about social awareness and interpersonal skills. In other words, smart team members are interpersonally appropriate and aware.

All three of these attributes are necessary for the ideal team player and Lencioni says

“During the past twenty years of working with leaders and their teams, I’ve seen time and again that when a team member lacks one or more of these virtues, the process of building a cohesive team is much more difficult than it should be. In fact, in some cases, it’s impossible.”

How can someone build a workforce of people who are hungry, humble and smart?

The assessment of such soft skills as teamwork is not easy and requires employers to design a selection of interview questions with specific indicators of the three virtues.Here comes a selection of example interview questions with some insights:

TEAM acronym (together everyone achieves more), teamwork motivation concept, color sticky notes, white chalk handwriting on blackboard


Question: What are the most important accomplishments of your career?

Insight: Do any of the accomplishments refer to a common goal or team? Look for mentions of we rather than I.


Question: What is the hardest you’ve ever worked on something in your life?

Insight: Look for specific examples of real but joyful sacrifice. In other words, the candidate isn’t complaining, but is grateful for the experience.


Question: Have you ever worked with a difficult colleague or boss? How did you handle the situation?

Insight: By asking the candidate about a difficult work relationship, you will learn if he or she can read situations and people and handle them skilfully.

A team full of people who are humble, hungry and smart will overcome any challenges quickly and easily, allowing them to get more done in less time and with far fewer distractions says Lencioni.

Preparing for an interview? For more sample questions, visit: