Hi! I read the great article “Five Rules to Encourage Optimism and to Discourage Negativity” and I consider myself a fair job hunter. But during an interview the other day the question was “what strategies do you use to deal with conflict [on the job]?” I had to smile because I hadn’t heard that one before! As usual in retrospect I can think of a lot of things I should have said during the interview but that I didn’t.
Thank you for your question, Kevin. Below I’ve given you some examples/ideas to help you formulate your personal answer. In my book, Perfect Phrases for the Perfect Interview, available at Amazon, you will find 170 pages of possible questions with examples for giving great answers, some of which are below.
Dealing with Conflict
Question from Interviewer: “Tell me about a time when you had a conflict in your work and how you resolved it.”
“I usually get along very well with everyone, but there was an incident with a person who was not pulling his weight on the team and all the members of the team were getting disgruntled. l took it upon myself to have a talk with the person when the opportunity presented itself. He was defensive at first but eventually confided in me that he had some family problems at home that were affecting his energy and patience. Once we talked, he made a special effort to be more receptive. The key to resolving this was letting him know that l wasn’t judging; just caring.”
Question from Interviewer: “Have you ever had a conflict at work that you couldn’t resolve? What did you do?”
“It was when I was new at an accounting job. There was a woman there who had been there for four years, and I expected her to take the lead. We had a problem communicating because of a difference in expectations from each other. I approached her and tried to talk to her to see if we could find some common ground. Unfortunately it did not work out. My boss got involved to see what he could do and sat the two of us down to see if we could work things out. We just had different personalities and work standards, and we finally agreed to disagree but to treat each other with respect as professionals. We continued to work together on projects, but as professionals and not friends.”
Question from Interviewer: “How do you deal with conflicts you have with customers?”
“I truly believe that ‘the customer is always right.’ Sometimes I have to bite my tongue and hold back what I would like to say, but I have never insulted a client. I always keep in mind that I represent the company and any action or words that I use reflect on the company-—good and bad.”
Good luck with your interview!
Carole Martin, The Interview Coach
Job interview expert Carole Martin has been a prime contributor to our Veteran Jobs blog, and offers her advice to veterans and service members who have questions, general or specific, about tackling the civilian job interview process. Send Carole your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, and moving forward, we’ll feature her answers in this blog.