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Career lions

Team work makes the dream work

Team work makes the dream work

Job interviewer: “So Liona, can you explain whether you’re a team player and could you give an example on how that prevailed?” Me: “Ehm, I enjoy being around people?”

Your performance in teams is one of the important elements employers are looking for when hiring. Giving a great answer to this question can be quite the challenge, if you do not wish to fall into any clichés like I did. The secret here is that you need to convince your employer you’re a great team player, by using the right tools.

Now first, let’s get into what actually is team work. Team work can be defined as synergy among people where the product is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Being a team player means you’ll get to accomplish more than you would individually. Therefore, to be a great team player it is important to be aware of your own performance in teams. Starting off it can be quite hard to assess what your preference and behaviour is in a team environment. Luckily, there are some tools you could use to gain insights on your positioning in teams. Here’s how to utilize personality tests and make a lasting positive impression during your job interview.


Belbin’s theory suggests that more balanced teams are created when the members are aware of their individual strengths and weaknesses. A total of nine different roles are established according to this theory, that could all occur in a team which are as follows.

  1. Shaper: Challenges the team to improve.
  2. Implementer: Turns the team’s ideas into actions.
  3. Completer-Finisher: Ensures completion and meeting deadlines.
  4. Coordinator: Usually takes initiatives as a chairperson.
  5. Team Worker: Encourages collaboration among team members.
  6. Resource Investigator: Explores outside opportunities.
  7. Plant: Presents new (out of the box) ideas and approaches.
  8. Monitor-Evaluator: Analyses the alternatives.
  9. Specialist: Provides specific knowledge to the team.

The nine roles can be divided into three orientations. The shaper, implementer, and completer-finisher are action oriented roles. The coordinator, team worker, and resource investigator are people oriented roles. The plaint, monitor-evaluator, and specialist are thought oriented roles. According to Belbin’s theory a team functions best when the roles of the team members are balanced and divided over these three orientations. The first time I took the test, seven years ago already, the results said that I am an implementer. When I took the test again, five years later, I turned out to be a coordinator. Your preferences and therefore role in a team can vary from time to time and is influences by your personal growth in team work.


Katherine Briggs and Isabelle Myers are the creators of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI in short. The MBTI is an indicator of your psychological type described with four dimensions. The first dimension is related to environment, are you more extraverted versus introverted? The second dimension in considers the way you observe the world, is it sensing or intuitive? The third dimension is the way you take decisions, do you think or do you feel? The fourth and last dimension is about the way your approach work, are you judging or perceiving? A total of sixteen profiles are established. These roles vary from coach to adventurer to conservator. As for me, my profile is ENFJ which means I could be categorized to an extraverted coach type of person within a team.


The Insights Discovery methodology is also based on theories by Swiss founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung. Except, is it more elaborate with 72 profiles. The methodology makes use of every individual’s combination of colours. These colours are based on psychological preferences and how that provides us with our perception in certain situations. In a nutshell the characteristics of each colours are:

  • Red – Positive, bold, assertive, decisive, strong-willed, demanding, affirmative, competitive, and goal oriented.
  • Blue – Objective, analytical, cautious, precise, questioning, and formal.
  • Yellow – Social, demonstrative, dynamic, creative, and expressive.
  • Green – Calming, soothing, caring, encouraging, patient, tranquil, and sharing.

Every colour has its own strengths and weaknesses, which are more apparent when the person’s experiencing a good (conscious profile) or a bad (unconscious profile) day. Every profile consists out of one, two, or three colours. For example, my test resulted into conscious profile #45, the inspiring motivator. I score high for yellow (main colour), red (second colour) and blue (third colour) on the work floor. On a good day I am creative, decisive, and analytical. On a bad day I might get chaotic and superficial. My unconscious main colour is actually red, which prevails more on my “bad days”, which also are the days I seem more impatient and talk a bit too much. The same kind of impatience also frequently starts off an embarrassing office story. The Insights methodology is widely used in companies all over the world. Some examples are Philips and Jamie Oliver’s fifteen.

How does this apply to

Currently, we’re a two women show at the headquarters. While we hope to expand our team in the future, we are very pleased with the way we work as a team at the moment. According to the Insights methodology, Ashley has a profile that lies on the introverted spectrum of the wheel and mine is on the extraverted side. While working together, we’ve found that we complement one another. Until now we’ve experienced that we have the personalities to come up with new ideas, translate these into actions, and actually finish them on time.

As for my answer to the question whether I am a team player: Yes, I am definitely a team player. From the results of the personality tests can be concluded I am quite the extraverted person that likes to come up with new ideas and motivate the team, which is what I have to offer to a team. I like to work towards a goal and make decisions based on analysis. What I do need from my team members is someone that questions my (sometimes crazy) ideas and makes sure that the work is finished in time. So next time I am asked this question, I will have a substantiated answer waiting! What are your personality test results and how have you used this in your daily work? Let me know in the comments.


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