You may face several behavioral interview questions, especially variable ones, that ask you to outline your past experiences with conflict situations. Although a hiring manager can present this type of question in alternative ways, they are looking for an indication of your interpersonal skills.
To successfully answer these common interview questions, you should use the STAR method to provide essential information, including the situation, task, approach, and results.
3 Tips for the Best Answer:
- Include all key information the hiring manager is looking for
- Use examples that have a positive outcome
- Keep your interview answer brief but include specific details
3 Mistakes to Avoid:
- Do not say that you get along with everyone and have never faced work conflict
- Avoid answers that make you seem unreasonable or difficult to work with
- Refrain from using your response to blame others or bash past co-workers or bosses
10 Sample Answers for This Behavioral Interview Question Regarding Conflict
These 10 sample behavioral questions and potential answers can help you prepare for your next interview with prospective employers. Each effective answer breaks down the STAR approach elements to help you craft your perfect response in a positive way.
1. Tell me about a time you faced a conflict at work.
S: At my last job, our weekly supply order was late, and I had to face angry clients and co-workers.
T: I was in charge of ordering supplies each week, and they did not arrive on time.
A: Although I placed the order before the deadline, the third-party supplier had delivery problems getting our stock to us.
R: I took extra time to inform my colleagues and our impatient clients of delivery issues. After consulting with management and receiving approval, I extended one-time discounts to our clients who were left waiting an extra two days to aid in maintaining a professional relationship.
2. Describe a situation where you resolved an issue with a co-worker.
S: During one specific situation, I worked on a project where I ran into problems collecting necessary information from one department head.
T: I collected the data from last quarter from each department and compiled it into a visual representation for the Board of Directors. Unfortunately, one department manager was always too busy to hand in his stats and never returned my calls or emails.
A: Instead of becoming angry at this person’s lack of professionalism, I tracked him down after a meeting to approach him comfortably and determine why he was so busy and could not give me the stats.
R: After talking to him, I found out his department had some employee changes recently, and his assistant was on leave of absence, creating a vacancy, and producing a strain on his workload. I then offered my assistance to collect the data from the department myself to complete my project, and he was not facing added work he could not finish.
3. Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with your manager.
S: One difficult situation where I disagreed with my manager was when I had to ask for a deadline extension on a task.
T: I was facing a potentially missed deadline with a client’s project due to overscheduling issues.
A: I approached my manager for an extension rather than waiting until it was too late. He was not receptive and did not want to grant an extension. Instead of getting upset, I took extra time to explain to my manager how much additional time I needed and why it would be better to take my time to finish rather than rushing the task.
R: After outlining my current progress and what I had left to finish, my manager was more receptive to extending my deadline by two days. This way, I could complete my task with exceptional quality for the client.
4. Tell me about a time you had a problem with your colleague.
S: In my previous role, I had a consistently late colleague, and my team would have to wait for her to begin our daily tasks.
T: I took the initiative to approach her and discuss why she could not make our morning meetings.
A: After running into some disagreements about her lateness, I offered an alternative solution that would suit her and keep the team on schedule.
R: In the end, I arranged to have our morning team meeting time adjusted to a mid-morning meeting to allow for any lateness or pressing tasks that may interfere in the future. This way, all team members could attend and participate fully each day.
5. How do you handle conflict in the workplace?
S: Well, I understand that not everyone will get along 100% of the time while working together.
T: When facing conflict, I prefer to handle conflict in a professional manner, privately with the other individual.
A: By sitting together and talking one-on-one, you can often clear up miscommunications that cause most conflicts at work.
R: Listening to the other person and understanding their position often helps diffuse a stressful situation where conflict arises.
6. How do you deal with different opinions and diversity as part of a team in the workplace?
S: It is normal to have differences of opinions and cultural diversity when working with multiple individuals in teams.
T: I find that listening to others and understanding their reasoning for opinions or choices helps validate their feelings and makes them feel heard.
A: By using a proactive approach to diverse opinions in the workplace, I aim to find common ground where each team member can agree and is satisfied.
R: Using compromise in workplace conflicts can help get others to come away from their strict positions and be more flexible on meeting in the middle with others.
7. Tell me about a time when there was a rule, policy, or procedure at work that you disagreed on, and what you did.
S: I worked as a hairdresser in a salon where each person handled client calls and paperwork. I found this extremely time-consuming, taking away from the time I could spend with clients.
T: After spending countless hours each week being interrupted by phone calls for appointments and completing paperwork, I initiated a meeting with the salon manager to discuss hiring a receptionist to handle these tasks.
A: In my approach, I let my manager know how much time I was using out of my day to answer phone calls and complete paperwork that could be more productive working with clients.
R: After I presented the cost analysis of hiring an entry-level receptionist to take over these duties, my manager agreed that it would be more beneficial for the salon. All the hairdressers were able to take on additional clients with the time not spent doing those tasks, and everyone was more profitable.
8. Describe a time when you resolved an issue with an unhappy customer.
S: We had a customer who was unhappy with our return policy at the store where I worked.
T: I was the customer service rep that handled all customer complaints and resolutions for our department. The staff directed the customer to my desk because the clerk would not accept her product for return without a receipt.
A: I took time to talk with the customer about the available options for a return without a receipt. Instead of receiving cash, she could have a replacement item or a store credit for the product’s purchase price.
R: As a result, the customer accepted a store credit that she could use another time in our store. She left satisfied with the resolution, and we did not stray from our corporate policies on product returns.
9. Tell me about how you deal with difficult team members at work.
S: Unfortunately, not everyone is a team player at work. I try to remember that not everyone has the same opinion or position that I have.
T: I use my Conflict Resolution Skills training from a course I took last year to help me remain calm and listen to the other individual’s position.
A: From there, I express my understanding of their feelings and opinions. Next, I aim to find common ground on which we can all agree.
R: I find that remaining calm and accepting other’s point of view and positions makes me re-evaluate my stance and opens me up to new ideas in workplace relationships.
10. Describe a challenge you have faced at work and how you overcame it.
S: At my last position, I had to clean out all the offices in the building before the end of my shift, and halfway through, I realized I did not have enough cleaning products to finish the job.
T: Instead of getting upset about not having enough stock, I contacted my supervisor in another building to discuss getting enough supplies to finish my job.
A: Together, we developed a solution where a co-worker brought me some extra supplies from her building until new stock came next week.
R: By asking for the help of my colleagues in other areas, I managed to complete my job in time and to the professional standards that our clients expect.
Crafting the best answer to conflict interview questions using the STAR format will provide the best way to show interviewers your effective communication skills with work-related issues. Conflict resolution questions are becoming more common when interviewing a potential employee for a position in many industries.
Preparing a good example answer to conflict questions can help the interview process and even land you the job you want.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.