How to Answer "How do You Deal With Conflict?"

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Conflict in the workplace can become a touchy subject; especially when it is asked about in an interview. Some people handle conflict well and others do not. If you are an individual who handles conflict well, then responding to this question should be a breeze. You most likely have several examples of incidents where you effectively dealt with conflicts at work. However, if you are one of the individuals who do not handle conflict well, you may have to dig deeper to find an example to share. This article will address several factors involved in how to answer the question: how do you deal with conflict?

1. Behavioral Questions are Tricky

Behavioral Questions can become tricky questions to answer in an interview. These types of questions are among the favorites for hiring managers to ask. Some of their preferred topics include: teamwork, leadership, problem solving, and their favorite one, conflict resolution.

Behavioral questions are a good measuring tool that hiring managers utilize to assess a job candidate’s ability to handle stress in the workplace, deal with negative issues and grow from the experiences. As it pertains to questions regarding conflict, the hiring manager needs to ascertain whether or not you will be able to face a conflict head-on and find a positive resolution. If you cannot handle conflicts in the workplace, you can become a liability to the cultivation of a positive workplace atmosphere.  

2. The Mindset of the Hiring Manager

Responding in the right way to a behavioral question regarding how well you handle conflict will give the hiring manager an insight into your workplace behavior. Workplace performance concerning task completion and productivity is important. However, workplace behavior can sometimes be held to a higher standard in the mindset of the employer. This occurs because the way an employee behaves, directly influences the atmosphere (and productivity) of the workplace in either a positive or negative manner.

Disagreements are a part of life in all of your personal relationships. There is no difference in the workplace, and you will experience disagreements with coworkers, managers and even customers. The way you handle these conflicts will set you apart in either a positive or negative way. The hiring manager views behavioral questions about conflict resolution in a very important light.

3. How to Answer This Question

Do not allow this question to catch you by surprise. Be prepared to respond to behavioral questions with clear and concise answers that include details on a specific workplace incident and how you handled the conflict. If you act as if you have never encountered any conflict at work, the hiring manager will know that you are being disingenuous.
We all experience conflicts in the workplace, and no one is immune to them. Make sure that you prepare beforehand to answer this type of question so that you already have the best response planned out. You want to respond that you behaved in a positive and effective way, which will paint you in a good light. However, don’t over-embellish.

4. Examples of Conflicts & Responses

When trying to ascertain the best example to cite during your interview, take an honest introspective look at your previous workplace behavior. Jot down some possible examples and settle on one that you think showcases your best exhibition of conflict resolution skills. If you are drawing a blank, seek out a trusted friend or colleague to jog your memory about examples of your conflict resolution skills playing out in the workplace.

Maybe you dealt with a conflict while working on a team project and you effectively resolved the issue with your coworker. Your best example could be a time when you needed to resolve a conflict over the phone or through email with a customer or client. You may even have had an issue with the HR Dept. regarding a company policy. You can explain how that conflict was resolved and how you came to an understanding of the policy. You can utilize the following steps when citing your response.

  • Share an event that you resolved
  • Discuss a major, rather than minor conflict
  • Don’t pick an example where you failed
  • Explain the context of the conflict
  • Skip over unnecessary details
  • Don’t over-embellish or give too many details
  • Describe the specific action steps you enacted
  • Share the results of your positive resolution skills

When you can showcase that you had positive and productive results from the way that you handled a conflict in the workplace, you will impress the hiring manager. Some positive results would include: initiating compromise, cultivating a positive atmosphere, projects completed within a deadline and increased sales.

See Also: How to Answer "Do You Prefer to Work for a Man or Woman, Why?"

Make sure that you practice your answer. Never memorize and recite a scripted response or you will appear disingenuous. Stay focused on the points discussed in this article and you will be able to craft a perfect answer that showcases your conflict resolution skills in the best light.

Have you ever been caught off guard by this question? How did you respond? Your thoughts and comments below please...