Hiring managers love to see how you handle tough job interview questions under pressure. They also want to gain a better understanding of your ability to manage conflict and challenges in the workplace:
1) Explain a challenge you faced in the workplace & how you solved it.
This is a pretty open-ended question during the interview. This is another question you should be prepared for ahead of time with a relevant example to avoid taking a long pause to think about it, or coming up with a challenge that hurts rather than helps you in the interview. From your answer, the hiring manager can tell what you consider to be a difficult situation in the workplace, and how you’re able to solve problems that arise. Start by explaining the challenge, how you identified it and what options were available to address the challenge. Then explain what you did to fix the challenge and the resulting outcome. It should go without saying, but only choose challenges that had a positive outcome because of an action you made.
- Have an example ready in the back of your mind prior to the interview.
- Use challenges that were not actually caused by you and that can be summarized briefly to avoid a lengthy story.
- If possible, use an example that shows skills or qualities you used to solve the challenge that will be relevant to this job.
- Show the hiring manager that you can use logical reasoning to solve a problem.
- Show that you have the employer’s best interests at heart.
- Always end with a positive outcome. Don’t use challenges that were never completely resolved.
Example: “At my previous company, we had a new hire quit after only one month on the job. While we tried to get the second most qualified candidate, she had already taken a position elsewhere. The hiring process had to start all over again, so I split up tasks between myself and two other colleagues in the department so that we could stay on top of the work meant for the vacant position. It took about 3 months to hire another candidate but luckily the work did not suffer and my team was praised for our hard work and commitment.”
2) Tell me about a time you disagreed with your supervisor about how something should be done. How did you deal with it?
The best answer to this question is not, “I’ve never disagreed with a boss before.” At some point, disagreements happen in the workplace even to the nicest and non-confrontational people. But it’s also not the time to launch into a rant about how difficult your previous supervisor and coworkers were to work with. The key is to stay calm and professional when talking about a small disagreement or misunderstanding you’ve experienced with a supervisor, then show the logical and mature attitude you used to solve the disagreement.
- Never criticize or talk badly about a former supervisor or boss.
- Always stress communication and compromise in your solution.
- End with a positive outcome and express how you grew from the experience.
Example: “I’ve never had a large disagreement with a supervisor, however there was a time I had been working on a large project for 6 weeks. Another specialized project came in and my supervisor asked me to hand the project off to a colleague to begin work on this new one. I was only a week away from completing the project and presenting it to the client and really wanted to finish what I started. After giving it some thought, I spoke to my supervisor and asked if this new project couldn’t wait a few more days. We talked it over and compromised on having a colleague assist me to finish my initial project faster so that I could start working
3) Have you had a conflict with a colleague? How did you handle it?
Almost everyone has had some sort of conflict with a colleague in the past. Although it may be uncomfortable to answer the question, if you say you’ve never had a conflict, hiring managers may press you to think of a time when you did, or think you’re being untruthful. In my experience, job candidates do best when they give a brief explanation of a small conflict they had with a coworker and show what they did to resolve it.
As a hiring manager, I’ve seen too many employees who don’t get along well with others and are prone to competition and gossip among fellow coworkers. In order to have a positive, team-oriented office, finding new employees who will get along well with colleagues, supervisors and clients is extremely important.
- Don’t go into too many details about the colleague or conflict.
- Avoid badmouthing the colleague or appearing defensive in your response.
- Demonstrate a mature, team-oriented attitude in your response.
- Show what you learned from the experience and end on a positive note.
- Example: “Unfortunately everyone occasionally has a conflict or time when they don’t see eye-to-eye with a colleague. I’ve found that the best way to deal with a conflict with a colleague is to be open-minded and to communicate honestly with them. Listening and trying to understand their perspective can make it easier to come up with a cooperative solution to the issue.”
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About the Author:
Amanda Ryan is a Program Development Associate & Senior Resume Writer at RedStarResume. Amanda is a highly skilled resume writer and career expert specializing in international Resume Writing:
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