What are teamwork skills?
Teamwork skills refer to a group of abilities that are all related, allowing an individual to be able to work and cooperate with others. These are usually interpersonal skills that are present in well-developed employees, and for a recruiter, these can be very important.
Some of the skills that are important to teamwork include:
Communication: both verbal and non-verbal communication skills are important to teamwork, allowing each employee the ability to speak and listen well. Communication skills include using persuasion and listening, to be able to work with other people as and when needed.
Project management is another facet of teamwork, including planning, decision making and collaboration. Completing a project means working with others by delegating and organizing the workload, sharing the tasks that need to be completed, and having an awareness of the abilities and needs of others.
Some of the skills needed for good teamwork are harder to quantify, such as respect, tolerance, empathy, reliability and honesty.
How do great teamwork skills make an employee more effective?
Teamwork is often mentioned as one of the most important facets of a good workplace culture, and great teamwork often leads to increased productivity and better general happiness for employees while they are at work.
However, teamwork is important for the effectiveness of the individual employee in several ways, too.
1. The employee will be more productive
Employees who have an effective teamwork mentality will be able to take advantage of getting more done thanks to dividing labor - focusing on one part of a larger task rather than trying to complete the whole thing.
This makes completing tasks more efficient, making for better productivity and helping increase profits.
2. Employees can monitor each other
When you are working as part of a team, it is important that everyone is “pulling their weight”, which means that team members will be monitoring how well their colleagues are performing - and that helps the business to be better, too.
Employees with good teamwork skills will be able to recognize when a colleague needs some help or support, and encourage them to perform better.
3. Innovation and learning
Alongside the support that each employee in a team can give, another important part of teamwork is learning from one another, and finding new and innovative ways to work together.
Great team players are ready to teach their colleagues as much as they are ready to learn and develop extra knowledge from peers, and this idea-sharing is fertile ground for innovation.
4. Great working relationships
Happy staff is more productive - and by developing great working relationships with each other, employees can create a positive working environment where trust, respect, and empathy are all important.
In a great working relationship, employees are motivated and feel supported, and through great communication, a spirit of cooperation ensures that work is completed effectively and efficiently.
What jobs benefit the most from great teamwork skills?
There are not many roles in any industry where teamwork would not be a beneficial skill to look for in an employee.
For a recruiter, spotting the candidates that have the strongest teamwork skills means getting a person in the role who can bring out the best in everyone around them and make sure that through division of labor and communication all work is completed properly and on time - which is important at almost every level in pretty much every role.
Great teamwork is instrumental in creating a happy, healthy, and productive working environment, which is beneficial for the business and for each employee.
However, there are probably some roles where teamwork skills might be specifically more important than they might be in others.
For example, working in close proximity to others for an extended period of time, such as on an oil rig or in the military, will probably need more teamwork skills than working as an IT technician, for example.
Some other roles where teamwork is really important include:
How to hire for great teamwork skills
Typical hiring processes can mean that finding candidates who have the right soft skills - like teamwork - is not as straightforward as just looking for a qualification in a CV - which means that recruiters should have a plan in place to identify whether applicants are great at teamwork.
This might include asking the right questions when looking for references, or getting the employee to talk about their work and personal experiences of working in a team, and recruiters should consider applying a pre-employment test to their application process, too.
The teamwork test consists of a range of questions that are designed to see how a candidate uses their teamwork skills in a workplace scenario.
The questions in the assessment are situational judgment questions, which means that each candidate is presented with a fictional yet realistic workplace problem which they need to solve, demonstrating various facets of teamwork.
Each scenario is followed by several different courses of action that could be taken, and the candidate has to identify the most effective and the least effective solution.
The other solutions might be general mistakes or misconceptions, and if chosen would demonstrate that the candidate might not have the right level of teamwork skills to be successful.
The reference check is a great time for recruitment teams to get to know more about how the candidate actually behaves in a workplace situation, but the right questions need to be asked to be effective.
Some reference checks can be too minimal, with employers being reticent about asking too much from previous employers, but this is an excellent source of information that should not be overlooked. If the candidate does not have a previous employer listed (for example, they could have been at university), then you can ask similar questions of their tutor.
When seeking out information from previous employers, recruitment teams could ask:
Is the candidate good at following instructions?
Does the candidate work well as part of a team?
Does the candidate cooperate with others?
Has the candidate completed many projects with other employees?
Interviewing is a skill in itself, and different companies will have different interview techniques that they like to use when looking for a particular candidate.
Unstructured interviews might feel a bit more relaxed than something that is structured, but there is always the risk of wandering off topic and missing out on some important questions, so where possible you will probably want to create some type of structure to ensure that you are getting the right information.
In the interview, the recruitment team should ask some behavioral questions to assess how the candidate has used their teamwork skills in the past.
The answers that the candidate gives to these questions should simply describe the situation, the task that they needed to complete, the actions that they took, and the result of those actions.
The STAR mnemonic should be quite familiar to your interview subjects, so their descriptions are likely to be short yet detailed enough to give the recruitment team enough information to make a decision.
As an example, if you are recruiting for someone that has great teamwork skills, you could ask questions like:
“Please describe a time where you had to prioritize supporting other team members with their work over your own tasks”.
How testing for teamwork skills can benefit your company's hiring process
Finding out how competent a candidate is in soft skills like teamwork is not easy using the more “traditional” methods of just reading a CV or in an interview. By testing this skill using a relevant pre-employment assessment, the recruitment team is able to see objective and unbiased data that demonstrates which candidates have the required level of skill.
The results of the tests are simple and easy to read, providing extra data points that can narrow down a large candidate pool to only those applicants who have the skills to be successful in the future.
Whether your interview process is structured or not, adding data from soft skills tests is an effective way to easily screen applicants and provide an accurate and comprehensive measure of their level of teamwork skills.