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I recently went for an interview for a job where I would be working as part of a team and I was asked the following question: "How would you assess your own performance when working as part of a team?" The question had me completely stumped if I'm being honest.

Does anyone have any idea how I should have answered the question? Or even the right answer to the question for that matter.

I've asked this question on other Q&A websites and a lot of the reply's mentioned the use of peer-reviews; however, if your read the question carefully, you will see that it refers to assessing your own performance. Obviously peer review is using others to assess your own performance.

  • How would that be any different than "how would you assess your performance working independently"? If you can't articulate team dynamics and how you fit in and contribute in that environment then you have not paid much attention to team dynamics. – paparazzo Dec 9 '14 at 15:06
  • possible duplicate of How to do Annual Self Evaluations at work – gnat Dec 9 '14 at 15:12
  • Fair comment @Blam. Essentially what I'm looking to know applies in a team environment or individual work. Generally, I know myself whenever I've done a good job on something, but I would imagine "I just know" would not be an acceptable answer to this question in a job interview. I would imagine the use of some form of metric or measurement of performance would be the preferred answer. – slickboy Dec 9 '14 at 15:14
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    This question is how to deal with the interview question not how to actually assess your performance. so I do not think it is a duplicate of either. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Dec 9 '14 at 19:55
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Is this explicitly a process quiz question? "How would you assess..." more commonly means "Would you assess... as good or bad, and why".

If you aren't sure what question is being asked, ALWAYS ask for clarification.

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I will now be borrowing this question as it fits well in how I interview.

What they are really asking

This question is asking. "When working with a team, from your perspective do you work well with your team or not?"

What I expect in a good response

Yes (anything but yes isn't in your best interest) followed up by supporting dialog that isn't just a canned response.

Yes, we got along well and achieved our goals as a team.

That's only "okay" it won't hurt you, but it won't help you...

Yes, most of our team was dedicated to new implementation and functionality as that's what they preferred, on the other hand I enjoy digging into old smelly code and improving it where viable. Often I worked along side others helping clean up old code they depended on so that their new implementation wouldn't get bogged down by it. This worked extremely well for allowing our projects to continue to grow and expand while preventing our code suffering the common security, performance, and maintainability problems common in applications that have been around for a long time.

That's an excellent response, you've demonstrated you were a productive member of your team who worked well with your peers, plus you just sold me on a skill I didn't even ask for yet.

Things to do

Whatever your response is you need to demonstrate you did work well with your team in a real capacity. Not just "work got done" but that you actually got work done as a collective group. You also want to demonstrate your peers benefitted from your contribution to the team as well as you benefitted from their contributions.

Things not to do

Whatever you do DO NOT bad mouth your team, management, etc. here... The moment you do you've demonstrated you're probably NOT a good team player. You also want to collectively compliment your team. Feel free to pat yourself on the back in this to better sell me on you, but not because you're "better" than them, but because you're either offering me something unique or something that's more useful to me specifically. If you go into an "I'm better" area you're going to seem arrogant which will probably reflect poorly on you as a team player.

If I ask this

If I ask this I'm almost certainly planning to have you work closely with others that may or may not be at the same skill level as you, make sure you're comfortable with that, it's also not a bad idea after I ask this to ask about the team and what you should expect. I'm trying to figure you out, and by engaging me on this you're showing you actually do care about the team situation and making sure it's in your best interest, which is in my best interest. Which makes you look better.

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Since you are part of a team, you want to make sure that

  1. you carry your own weight

  2. you help others with their work

  3. you work with the team leader and manager to make sure that the team's work is done

  4. you work well with others to achieve tasks for which you have joint responsibility

  5. You push back if they give you too much to do for the time frame in mind or if the task is unreasonable but once you willingly agree to something, it gets done.

Those are also your performance yardsticks.

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To follow up on a comment

If it was software development I just know I produce quality code would not be a good answer. I perform unit testing and prefer tool x and y ... is a good answer.

I do my job as a team member is not a good answer. I have participated on large and small teams and enjoy that environment. I listen to team members and am careful to follow the direction from the team lead and complete my tasks on time. In a team environment I have the opportunity to learn from others. My technical strengths are X and as I demonstrate those skills I notice that people will ask for help and I am happy to contribute in that manner.

  • Performing unit testing and tool preference may fit with your current team, but you would need to explain how that generalizes to others. The more rigid you are in this area, the less likely you are to get along. – user8365 Dec 9 '14 at 21:09
  • What part of specifics is more credible is not clear? A team will not have tools so you need to talk about team dynamics. – paparazzo Dec 9 '14 at 23:23

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