Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Alone or Team?

Most interviews I go on I am asked whether I like to work alone or on a team and in which situation I perform better.  I always answer that the interviewer is a complete dumbas...  err I mean, I usually say that I work well alone or with a team.  Which I do.  I seem to get along with most everyone.

My questions to the peeps on this board are: Do you work best alone or in a team? Why?

Also why is this such a dog-gone annoying interview question?  (Aren't they all?)

Monday, May 31, 2004

Ignoring the "well" adjective, the fact is that I do work alone and with a team.

Assuming that I am working "well", that implies that it's sometimes more appropriate for me to work alone, and sometimes more appropriate to work "with the team".

You might try to think "what do I prefer to do alone", and "when would I prefer to work with other team members", and then answer accordingly: "in my last job I did X and Y by myself, and I did Z with these team members and A with those team members. Whether I do the same in this position may depend on B and C".

Christopher Wells
Monday, May 31, 2004

Team definitely.  The A-Team just wouldn't have been as good if it were say, the A-Guy.

SNT the evolution of RMS
Monday, May 31, 2004

It's an annoying question because like a lot of interview questions they ask for an absolute general answer when the real-life answer is usually "it depends"

Do I want to work in a basement by myself for two years? Never again.
Do I want to work with a bunch of people who are more interested in their careers and office politics than getting the job done?

Do I like taking a tough nut and spending a few days on my own getting it to crack, without anyone else bothering me? Sure.

Do I like working with a team of professionals to produce a winning solution? Yep.

So maybe the best way to answer the question is "I don't know - are all your employees idiots that I'll have to carry to the finish line, or are you the exception?"


Monday, May 31, 2004

Perhaps he's testing your boolean logic, in which case, the answer should probably be "yes"...

George B.
Monday, May 31, 2004

Im with Philo :)

Monday, May 31, 2004

I like asking this question.  I'm not really interested in the candidate's preference -- if we hire him, he'll be doing both and he'll by god like it.

I want to see how our candidate finds an answer to the question.  Does he just pick one side and go with it?  Does he try to dance down the middle?  Does he ramble on for a while hoping I'll ignore the fact that he's not answering? (That last one is the only wrong answer.  Well, that and "I can't work in a team because they're all out to get me.")

Boofus McGoofus
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The voices in my head are telling me to work alone. With explosives.

Mr. Analogy
Tuesday, June 01, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home