How to Emphasize Your Collaborative Strengths in an Interview

So many employers are on the hunt for talented technical professionals who know how to collaborate! This is great news for all of you collaborative technologists out there because it means more career opportunities and higher success rates at work. However, it’s not always easy to demonstrate your collaborative strengths during the interview process. These five tips will help you emphasize how collaborative you can be without selling your skills as an individual short.

1. Anecdotes Are Key: If you take nothing else away from this, remember that anecdotes paint a vivid picture and help people better understand your strengths and weaknesses better than simply listing your soft skills—which can sound a little too much like buzzwords and won’t set you apart from other technical professionals in line for the same position. Even if you don’t think you have anecdotes that can demonstrate your collaborative strengths, you probably do! Think about a time when you worked well with others at your job. Think about a time when your communication and problem solving in a team environment led to great results. If you’re not great at coming up with stories on the spot that suit the questions you’re being asked and the strengths you’re trying to highlight, feel free to rehearse a few ahead of your interview so you can go in confident, prepared, and ready to really show how collaborative you can be!

2. Practice Active Listening: One of the key components of effective collaboration is active listening. Demonstrating that you can hold a conversation without stepping on toes, focusing too much on yourself, and tuning out or not absorbing what another person is saying during the interview process is always a good idea, especially if you want to flaunt your collaborative strengths.

3. Problem Solving and Compromise: There is no such thing as effective collaboration or teamwork without solving problems and making compromises. That’s why so many employers will ask questions geared towards evaluating your ability to compromise. But, even if they don’t, go in prepared with a few examples of the compromises you’ve made in a team environment as well as problems you’ve helped solve as a team and find organic ways to bring these to the forefront.

4. Ask About the Tools They Use: As a technical professional you’re acutely aware of just how many apps and how much software is designed with effective collaboration in mind. Almost every company utilizes one or more of these tools—from Slack to Skype to Calendar Invites—and demonstrating curiosity in what tools they use as well as discussing your experience with these tools or similar tools can really show what you’re capable of when it comes to practical, everyday collaboration.

5. Time Management and Reliability: While time management and reliability are soft skills you might want to emphasize during an interview anyways, they’re also essential components of effective collaboration. If you want to paint a picture of your overall collaborative strengths, make sure you mention and offer stories about times when others relied on you, how your time management strengths led to added value in your current or previous job, and how these strengths impacted your collaborators overall.

Collaboration is an essential soft skill for a lot of technical professionals, but you may not be effectively highlighting your collaboration skills during an interview. If you hit all of the five points above, you’ll demonstrate to employers that you can be a great team player and a collaborative addition to their existing team.