How to answer “Conflict” Questions

How to answer "Conflict" Questions

Why are recruiters asking this?

No one is perfect and day-to-day people do get into some conflicts. But, there is a difference between ranting about a conflict at work to your friends over drinks and sharing a conflict story in an interview. Preparing your answer will help you present your work-related conflicts in a professional manner. 
Recruiters ask conflict questions because they are curious to know how you deal with difficult situations at work. Use the STAR model to answer, and explain how the conflict originated, but focus mostly how it was resolved. Of course you want to highlight your talent in conflict resolution throughout the process.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable, but don’t avoid answering the question. And, if there are several follow-up questions, which can be the style of some companies, always remain calm. Remember, it’s not personal, and conflicts happen to everyone.

Checklist for a great answer

  • 2 to 3 minutes long
  • STAR answer (Situation - Task - Action -Result)
  • Use a professional conflict, not a personal one
  • Showcases a value to resolve conflict
  • Ideally a happy ending, but not necessary

Examples

When I was organizing a conference for a large bank, my job was to recruit corporations to sponsor the event. My boss was not really happy with the familiar tone I used to speak to the representatives we were targeting. But according to me it was the best way to convince them to join. In the end, I ignored my boss’ recommendations and was successful in multiplying the sponsorship amount by three. My supervisor was happy with the results, but the trust was broken, because he felt I was too casual. 

Other similar questions

  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss
  • Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
  • How have you dealt with an angry or upset customer?
  • Talk about a time when a co-worker was not doing their share on a project. How did you handle it?

Serial job-hopper. Coffee snob. Pottery beginner. Driven for marketing @Mockmate

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