Search for the phrase “team player” on Monster.com and thousands of posts come up listing it as a necessity for the job in question. Lawyers and accountants, machinists and bakers, even night-shift delivery drivers—lonely jobs, to be sure—are all expected to work well in groups and communicate with ease.
According to Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, this emphasis on teamwork is a mistake. It turns off the top applicants, who, rightly or wrongly, believe all that collaboration means they won’t have a chance to stand out. “They’ll look for opportunities where they can shine,” write Bronson and Merryman, “where they feel responsible for their destiny.”