Have you ever been on a team where someone is not pulling their own weight? If so, this question should be easy for you.
If you haven’t, or maybe you were the person not pulling the weight, just put yourself in the shoes of someone who has experienced this.
Everyone has a story when this happened. Whether it was at work, a school project or a sports team, the most important part is that you frame your answer in a positive light.
Answers to emphasize
Be a solution seeker
Show your interviewer the steps that you took to find a solution. Did you have a 1 on 1 conversation with this team member and explain how you felt? That’s a start!
You never know what the reason is someone may not be pulling their weight. Showing the interviewer that you took the time to understand the person's reasoning will show that you are a reasonable person. If there is not a valid reason at all for the lack of effort, then it’s time to try something else.
When answering this question, the most important part is to focus on your strengths. What strengths will allow you to handle or address the situation? Was it your patience? Mediation skills? Leadership and influence? Whatever it is, make sure you make it apparent to your interviewer that these traits you possess resulted in a positive outcome!
I don’t care what example you give, or what the actual solution was. Don’t ever tell the interviewer that after all your efforts the person continued to slack off. If your story doesn’t have a happy ending, then it is not worth telling.
Answers to avoid
Don’t focus on the person not pulling their weight
It is already apparent that someone was not pulling their weight. The purpose of this question is not to criticize this team member.
Don’t be a tattletale
Nobody wants to hear that you went and told on this teammate when he/she was not pulling their weight. This shows that you can’t handle situations on your own. And that you have no regard for the manager’s time by asking them to mitigate this problem.
Don’t be a pushover
Telling your interviewer that you took the slack and picked up the extra work for your coworker (while not the worst thing you could say) is not recommended!
Avoid saying nothing
You are obviously being asked this question because the interviewer assumes/expects you to have some experience working in teams. Not giving an answer or saying this has never happened shows a lack of experience in teams. If you must make up an example, do it!
"Have you ever been on a team where someone is not pulling their own weight?"
“Absolutely. Having worked in teams quite frequently in my previous position, it was inevitable that this situation would arise. Last year, I was assigned to work with the marketing team to create a marketing plan for a large account. Each member of this team was assigned a specific task that was to be completed by our set deadline. One of the members was way behind and said that he probably could not finish his section of the project in time. I sat down with him to understand why he was unable to finish his portion of the project. After all, this was what we committed too and we all had equal parts.
He explained to me that he had been having internet trouble, and was unable to complete his research at home. For the next couple minutes, we brainstormed different places he could go to use the internet. After addressing this situation, he had agreed to work in Starbucks, in order to complete his portion by the deadline.Taking the time to understand his situation, and figure out a solution was critical to our project completion. At the end, we were all able to finish our work on time, and the project was completed successfully.”
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