Looking for Employees Who are Good at Collaboration? Here’s How You Discover Them!

Looking for Employees Who are Good at Collaboration? Here’s How You Discover Them!

by Jeanne Knutzen | June 25, 2018

0 Blog, Hiring.Best Practices, INFO AND RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYERS get connected


Collaborative Candidates PACE StaffingAs work becomes more complex and workers more diverse, employers are increasingly asking us to find employees with the talent or skills for collaboration.  Here’s why…

Employees who collaborate well know when and how to engage with others in order to solve important business challenges.  They know what questions to ask in order to get others to talk about their ideas and perspectives.  They know how to gather up the facts needed to better understand the problem.  And perhaps most importantly they always find a way to develop great working relationships along the way.  In short, great collaborators are the glue that keeps a team on top of their game.

No wonder these great collaborators are in such high demand!

For hiring managers looking to create or maintain a collaborative work environment, the ability to assess where a job candidate lies on the “collaboration scale” before they are hired is critically important.   We help them do that by using 3-5  behavioral interview questions focused on the candidate’s collaborative behavior.

Here’s the assumptions we make about what it means to be a good collaborator, and at least one interview question that will help you get insights into how the candidate is likely to behave in your work environment.

Assumption 1 – Good collaborators enjoy presenting their own ideas while staying genuinely curious about the ideas of others.

In your interview ask – “Think about a time when your team had a complex problem to solve and had a meeting to get everyone’s thoughts.  What did you like and dislike about that meeting?” 

Follow up with…

“How do you normally prepare for these kinds of meetings?

“How do you think you contribute best in these kinds of meetings?”

Look for – a balanced approach to the collaborative process – the give and take of collaboration at work.  The ideal response would indicate a need for balance – a confidence to offer up their own ideas as well as listen to the ideas of others.

Assumption 2 – Good collaborators find ways to work with all kinds of people – even the difficult ones.

In your interview ask – “Give me an example of a situation where you had to work with someone who you experienced as difficult.  Describe the person and what you did to work with them.”

Follow up with…

“Why was this person difficult for you?” 

“What did you change about your approach that seemed to work best with this person?” 

“What did you learn from this experience?” 

Look For – how they approached the “difficult for others” challenge?  Did they spend time figuring out how they could change themselves to be more effective, or were they more interested in getting the other person to change?  How successful were their efforts?  What did they learn?

Assumption 3 – Good collaborators adjust how they communicate with others to make sure their message is relevant to their receiver.”

In your interview ask – “Describe a situation where you thought you were communicating clearly, but you noticed people didn’t understand what you were saying.  How did you fix that situation?”

Follow Up with..

“How did you know you weren’t getting through?”

“How successful were you in fixing the problem?”

“How often do you find yourself misunderstood?  Do you know why?”  

Look for – answers that indicate they hold themselves accountable to fix a communication challenge by noticing when others don’t understand what has just been said.   What have they learned about how to clarify communications?  What techniques they did they use to fix communication challenges?

Assumption #4 – Good collaborators enjoy the collaborative process!

In your interview ask – “Describe the best team you have ever worked on and tell me what you think made them successful.”

Follow Up with…

“How often did they communicate with one another and in what ways?”

“What challenges did they have to overcome and how did they do that?”

Look for – a description of team environments that they considered successful and where they viewed the way the team communicated with one another as key to that success.

Assumption #5 – Good collaborators know the difference between talking and action!

In your interview ask –”Describe an environment you’ve been in where you thought there was actually too much communication and not enough results and then please describe your reaction to that environment.” 

Follow Up with…

“What did you do in that type of environment?  Did you try to change it or did you adjust to it?”

“What adjustments did you make and did those adjustments work for you?  Did they work for the team?”

Look For – what the candidate reveals about their reaction to a situation where collaboration is over-used – Too much talking, not enough doing.


This article was written by Jeanne Knutzen, owner and CEO of PACE Staffing Network, an award winning recruiting and staffing agency headquartered in Bellevue Washington.   PACE places 1000’s of employees in new temporary and core jobs each year and have developed a candidate screening and evaluation process that incorporates the “best practices” in hiring and selection.

Pace Staffing NetworkIf you’d like help with your next recruiting or hiring project, give us a call at 425-637-3312 or e mail us at infodesk@pacestaffing.com






How useful was this blog post?

Click on a star to rate it!

We’d Love Your Comments on this Blog…

In today’s market, its never too early to get started on your next staffing challenge…..

Connect Now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Post Next Post