Interviewing to Get the Job: “What would you do if a coworker on your level wasn’t pulling his/her weight … and this was hurting your project or progress?”
By Sharon Borbon Hanson

What would you do if a coworker on your level wasn’t pulling his/her weight … and this was hurting your project or progress?

This question and others like it test your sense of interpersonal relations. Employers want to know how you navigate office politics.

The best answer comes from the Golden Rule – that is, do to others what you would want them to do to you.

Example: “I believe teamwork requires transparency and honesty, so I would go to the person, explain the situation from my perspective and how it affects both me and the project. I’d ask if  he/she would talk with me about the situation, or if there is anything I can do to help him/her meet the deadlines or quality or whatever the issue is.”

The interviewer may ask a follow-up question along the lines of, what would you do if after the discussion, nothing changed?

A good follow-up for you is, “I wouldn’t let it go unaddressed – that would make the effects of the problem worse and give a tacit okay to continue. I’d initiate another discussion and refer to our agreement from the first talk. If that didn’t work, I’d widen the discussion to the person and our team. One thing I’d be sure of, is that I’d let it be known I want a win/win solution for both of us, the team, and the project. I’d stay positive. I’ve not encountered any situation that couldn’t be fixed by positive determination and constructive effort.”

Positivity is key, as is truly wanting the best for all, even in a trying situation.

Sharon Boerbon Hanson is associate executive director of Advance IT Minnesota, a Center of Excellence that promotes awareness of and excellence in IT careers in order to ensure business success. She has over 25 years’ experience marketing and brand-building, and has been a resume and interview coach 15 years.