Team player

While looking trough a lot of job-applications I’ve begun to question a certain aspect that I see a lot.

Why do so many recruiters write out that “You need to be a team player”, without saying much more?

No one would like to let a bad apple spoil the bunch, sure; but who would admit to being a bad team player if asked the question? If they’re even self-aware to know that they do have problems of working together, towards a common goal.

Could writing it out as a requirement, bluntly like so, be misinterpreted? What lies beneath those words? It makes more sense to me if you would rather speak of your company culture and how your processes usually looks like. It could be an encouragement to drop the ego, be open, humble and straightforward towards your colleagues. Or it could just as well mean to not question the status quo and be compliant with whatever requirements that are put upon you.

One common sentence whose underlying meaning could vary immensely, depending from where it comes.

What’s the first thing you come to think of?