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Why is team-working so hard?

The simple answer is, it often isn’t!

But what can be difficult for job applicants is showing that they are good at team-working when it counts towards their future in midwifery.

Most universities will assess your team-working ability in your interview. But ‘team-working’ makes it sound like a single concept, when actually this term can cover all sorts of things, like:

  • Cooperation,
  • Consideration,
  • Empathy,
  • Leading,
  • Sensitivity,
  • Relationship building,
  • Rapport,
  • Inspiring,
  • Influencing,
  • Morale boosting
and more!

So what’s the problem?

Team-working seems much easier to do in day to day life than to prove in an interview.

This is because team-working is something we do without really thinking about it. And either we are naturally good at it, or we struggle. When it comes to interview, candidates are often asked to show how effective they are at working in a team.

The big mistakes that most people make is they can talk about the tasks they have done, they can talk about what the team as a whole has achieved, they can even talk about why team working is so important. But they struggle to define exactly what it is they have personally done which has made the team run like clockwork.

How to fix it

It’s fairly straight-forward to elevate a very standard team-working response to an impressive one. Quite simply you need to think about what you did then clarify how you did it. It’s the second part which most candidates miss out.

For instance, if you’re asked to describe a time you worked very well in a team you need to describe:

The situation – what the event, scenario or context was

The task – what you needed to achieve, your objective, what you had been asked to take care of as a group

Your action – what you personally did (not just to meet the objective but to make sure the team worked well as a whole in order to achieve this)

The end result – what you accomplished, with specific emphasis on your contribution to the way the team worked together to achieve this

It’s easy to talk about the scenario and even the result, especially in terms of what WE alone did. But talking about your actions in relation to the team and how these had a positive impact on both other people and end results is more difficult, because we don’t tend to think about things in this way.

This is something you need to start doing if you are going to improve how you present yourself at interview.

In terms of team-working, your personal impacts may have been:

  • How you encouraged the group to cooperate
  • How you got others involved
  • What you did to motivated others to take certain actions
  • How you established a culture of collaboration rather than competition
  • What exactly you did to influence others and lead the team to achieve its goals
  • Your actions let to a group of individuals achieving more than could have been achieve as individuals.

Remember, how one person ‘gets others involved’ or ‘influences others’ may differ substantially from how someone else would tackle this. You need to make sure you cover your approach in your answer so your interviewers get a really good idea of what you value and prioritise. They will use this information to draw conclusions about how well these behaviours might transfer across into a midwifery environment.

Summary

Doing team-working can be straight-forward; describing the behaviours which underpin this is more difficult.

Take a look at our online course for more tips and guidance on how to wow your panel at interview and sail through to a place on a midwife training course.

Article written by Hannah Vallance

Hannah is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist specialising in recruitment, selection and assessment. This means she designs and assesses at selection days just like the ones used for Midwifes, which is pretty handy experience for Midwife Career!

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