How to Answer ‘How Do You Build Credibility with a Team?’

Reviewed by Melina Theodorou

Illustration of a pensive woman in the foreground of a busy office

When you walk into a new company on your first day, what is one of the first things you do?

In addition to introducing yourself to your new co-workers, you must establish credibility rather quickly with the team. This is not something you can achieve after a couple of hours on the job. Instead, you can become a credible employee by adopting the golden rule of treating others as you would want to be treated. In other words, respect others, listen to differing opinions, take accountability for your actions and, most importantly, be honest.

If these attributes are a part of your overall constitution, you probably exceed in every position you are hired for. On the other hand, if it has been challenging to embrace these characteristics, perhaps it is time to perform some introspection and embrace this change. Whatever the case may be, you might need to find ways to show your potential employer that you would be credible during an interview.

But how?

Here is a guide on how to answer the common job interview question ‘How would you establish your credibility quickly with the team?’.

Why hiring managers ask this question

In any job interview, the questions posed by hiring managers serve a purpose. The people conducting these face-to-face meetings are not randomly asking questions to pass the time.

When you are asked, ‘How would you establish your credibility quickly with the team?’ the interviewer is attempting to gauge how you would fit within the company. Moreover, the question also encourages you to determine what strategies you would employ to become a trusted worker.

If you are applying for a management position, you will most definitely be asked this interview question. Since you would be Company X’s manager, you must be seen as a credible figure by your colleagues, particularly in a leadership position.

Overall, the employer wants to understand your planning and problem-solving skills. The way you respond to the question can showcase your professionalism, skills, experience, and adaptability but also your fit in at the workplace.

But how do you even respond to this type of interview question in the first place? Remember, first impressions matter a great deal.

How to craft a response

Now that you know why hiring managers ask this question in an interview, it’s time to prepare your answer. Here are some insightful tips on how to provide an impressive answer.

1. Know the company

Before any job interview, it is always wise to research the company. Yes, you can always review the corporate website to find the basics, but performing a thorough investigation would be helpful when crafting your answer to this question. This could consist of reading reviews of past and present employees and checking out the business’s social media pages. Ultimately, knowing the firm can enhance the quality of your answer.

2. Outline your plan

Whether you are applying for the office clerk or an office manager, outlining your intent to establish credibility within the team quickly can send a signal to the interviewer that you’re serious about the position. Everyone may have unique plans, but you can always turn to the trusted 30-60-90 day plan.

This is essentially a blueprint for any new employee to follow to set up specific goals and establish a vision for accomplishing set objectives at each stage of the plan, from the first 30 days on the job to the 90th day.

3. Use real-life examples

Sure, you can always say the right things, such as being honest and taking accountability. But have you ever had to utilise these characteristics? If so, this is what you need to highlight in your job interview as you express the need to listen to your co-workers and show respect to everyone. Put simply, provide some real-life examples of how you remained consistent in your principles and established your credibility with previous teams you’ve worked with.

4. Highlight the importance of teambuilding

A company is successful due to the incredible people that comprise its workforce. But while the individuals are critical to the rise of an organisation, teamwork is imperative, too. Therefore, you should discuss the importance of building a relationship with your team either from a managerial standpoint or as a subordinate.

5. Avoid being a know-it-all

You may have confidence in your abilities, or you might believe that your plan can somehow engross you to your colleagues, but it is still crucial that you do not behave like a know-it-all when giving your answer. No matter what, you should not act like a supercilious individual. Arrogance will not help your cause.

Example answers

So, how would you go about answering this interview question? We have put together a sample list of responses you can utilise to your advantage to ace your answer:

Acknowledging that you need to earn credibility

‘I’ve always been told that trust is not given but earned. One of the best ways, at least from my personal experience, to gain credibility at the office is to earn it. Just because I have a terrific résumé (if you don’t mind my saying so), doesn’t mean I am entitled to be viewed as a credible individual. I need to earn it. And that includes employing empathy, encouragement and transparency to establish solid foundations with my new colleagues.’

This is a sufficient answer because it outlines why it is critical to sometimes look beyond your résumé and treat others as equal, whether you are a manager or a clerk. It also highlights your values, which could be beneficial to your employment prospects.

Demonstrating your interpersonal skills

‘When I graduated from university and earned my master’s degree, I thought as soon as I entered the labour market that I would be treated as an authoritative source for different things. But I was fairly proven wrong! Since then, I’ve been humbled, and I don’t take my employment opportunities for granted. I know I have to earn others’ trust. Over the years, I’ve progressed as both a professional and an individual, ensuring that everyone plays a valuable role in a workplace setting. This is how you gain credibility: enjoying camaraderie with your colleagues.’

Why is this a great sample answer? It highlights your career growth, and now you do not waste opportunities presented to you. Not only is this an excellent reply for a position, but it also knocks it out of the ballpark for a managerial role. You are a democratic team player, not an authoritative micromanager.

Emphasising your teamwork skills

‘Asking questions should be the first task for anybody entering a new business either as a manager or as an associate. By asking questions, you understand the corporate landscape better, and you can find out what motivates others, what needs to improve and what suggestions employees have, to make the firm a better place. I think it is important for everyone to have a 30-60-90-day plan when starting a new job.’

This, too, is a great response because it emphasises your problem-solving capabilities, as well as your desire to work well with others. Even if you do not instantly gain credibility at your new firm, you can employ a series of actions to ensure that you eventually garner a reliable standing among your peers.

Do hiring managers expect you to flawlessly answer every question? Of course not. But they do want you to be forthright and confident in your responses. There is an objective for all the questions hurled in your direction during an interview. You can either knock them out of the park or you can hit into the second baseman for an inning-ending double play. Preparation is key to becoming a top slugger in any interviewing situation. 

Have you got any useful tips on how to answer this interview question? Share them with us in the comments section below!

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 27 April 2015.