Good teams

For the 1st time in my nearly six years as the HR Director in our local school district, I have the opportunity to hire someone onto my own team. This is prompted by the retirement of one of my team members. While there is certainly some short-term difficulty in filling the day-to-day tasks that need to be done in her absence, I am excited about the prospect of finding a great new person to join our team.

Interviews have started and we are working our way through the process and trying to glean as much information as possible from the candidates. I am finding that one question in particular is causing problems with our candidates. That question is:

 “Tell me about the best team you’ve ever been on and what made it so good?”

The thing about this question is that I use it as a pretty standard interview question when working with our hiring teams. However, it has some enhanced meaning now that I am looking for someone for my own team. It’s causing me to think long and hard about how I would answer the question and truly what answer I am looking for when I ask it.

I must begin applying this dual role I have now as not only the hiring manager but also the HR Director. So, I have to answer the question with something other than a theoretical answer and cannot simply wait for the hiring manager to tell me what they are looking for. I hate stumping myself!

I know that I value team members who are willing to challenge me and bring inspiration to continuously improve how we serve all of our stakeholders. I’ve been on good teams (which is part of what makes it difficult to answer my own question by picking a “best team”) and I’ve been on teams that were not so good!

One answer that has turned me off is hearing that someone has never been on a good team. If someone has never been on a good team, can they know how to be a positive influence on ours?  Another example that gives me pause is hearing about a sports team that someone was on back in high school. That kind of answer generally prompts a follow-up about a work team. Sometimes, we do not get an answer to that follow-up question.

So to the wise people out there, how would answer the question I pose? Alternatively, is there another way I can ask it so that I am getting the sense that the people I am talking to can be a good team member and bring value to our organization?

PS – If you are a candidate for one of the positions for which I am interviewing and get this question from me, congratulations as your research ahead of the interview has garnered a little nugget of information that you can use to prepare!


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