What Employers Really Want: Collaboration

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This is one of a series of posts based on LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions’ Guide: 30 Behavioral Interview Questions to Identify High-Potential Candidates.

Here’s the list of the qualities managers value:

  1. Adaptability
  2. Culture add
  3. Collaboration
  4. Leadership
  5. Growth potential
  6. Prioritization

“Plays well with others.” Such a simple remark on a kindergartner’s report card, but one that makes every parent beam with pride. And they should. Early signs of collaborative ability are markers of adult success. Learning to share, to let others take a turn, to be willing to follow as often as you lead… these are all essential skills for the workplace and the playground.

Here’s what LinkedIn’s guide says about collaboration:

“When you look at an organization’s top collaborative contributors, and look at employees who are recognized as top performers, there is about a 50 percent overlap. So hiring people who can collaborate effectively and work well with others is essential to success.”

True collaboration starts out with learning to talk to each other. Michael Michalko, syndicated from psychologytoday.com, writes: “In Greek, the word dialogue means a “talking through.” The Greeks believed that the key to establishing dialogue is to exchange ideas without trying to change the other person’s mind. This is not the same as discussion, which from its Latin root means to “dash to pieces.” The basic rules of dialogue for the Greeks were: “Don’t argue,” “Don’t interrupt,” and “Listen carefully.”

Here are the questions managers suggested for finding out more about a candidate’s commitment to collaboration:

  • Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. How did you handle interactions with that person?
  • Tell me about a time when you were communicating with someone and they did not understand you. What did you do?
  • Describe the best partner or supervisor with whom you’ve worked. What part of their managing style appealed to you?

I would add these:

  • Tell me about a time you excelled at the role of follower. What did you contribute of value to the team?
  • How easy is it for you to ask for help? How does it make you feel?

Teams that collaborate well are more creative, more productive and just plain happier.  If you are a candidate, it’s a good idea to prepare some stories that demonstrate your ability to play well with others – just like you did in kindergarten.

4 thoughts on “What Employers Really Want: Collaboration

  1. Socrates, DaVinci, Einstein, Richard Feynman, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Donald Trump, among others, come to mind as interesting interview subjects. I wonder how they would fare, on most of these LinkedIn Qualities Managers Value? I know these are hypotheticals, speculative, but is fun to think about. Yes, I’m still reading. Thanks for the post. 🙂


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