Interview Question: How Would You Deal With Conflict in the Office?

JUNE 28, 2010 | BY MICAH

Everyday Interview Tips strives to bring you answers to many common job interview questions.  The more you understand how to answer each question, the more you can prepare your own answer for when the question is asked to you. Today we are going to discuss one of the most common interview questions: How do you deal with conflict in the workplace?

Dealing with Conflict

Conflict occurs often in the workplace. Sometimes it occurs between staff members, other times between supervisors and their subordinates. Conflict is something that all employees have to deal with at any organization. That is why this question is so important to an employer. Your answer may say a great deal about your candidacy.

Remain Positive

First and foremost, you must always remain positive. Positivity is a vital part of every job interview answer, especially when the employer is asking you to supply an answer that relates to something negative, like conflict. As far as the employer should be concerned, you take conflict very well and recognize that it is an important part of the workplace.

Forming your Answer

There are several different ways to answer this question. One highly recommended tip is to go back to your own experiences, describe a time that you dealt with conflict and explain the steps you took to resolve it. However, for that to work you need to have a good story. Not all applicants have that story. Furthermore, it has long been established by hiring managers that “tattle tailing” to a supervisor isn’t the best way to answer the question. If you dealt with conflict by informing your manager and letting them make the decision, you didn’t really deal with the conflict. Your manager did. In these cases you may want to explain how you would deal with conflict rather than bring it back to a story from your past.

Possible Answer

There are several ways to answer this question. One effective way is as follows:

“The first thing I try to do is get to the root of the conflict. Is it work related? Is it philosophical? Is it personal? Conflict can occur for a variety of reasons within the workplace and each problem has its own response.

“For work related conflicts that do not appear easy to solve, such as a disagreement with a staff member about the next best course of action, my personal preference is to invite the staff member into a meeting with an unbiased mediator from within the company. There we each explain our case and allow the mediator to provide the final decision.

“Should the mediator decide to defer to the opposition, it is my belief that we should roll with that decision despite my objections, because though I believe it is important continue to fight for what you believe is best for the company, I also believe that it is within the interests of the company to keep a harmonious workplace.”

Your answer should be a little different than this one, but this answer serves to illustrate a variety of important points:

  • You are an adaptive person (you judge each conflict independently).
  • You have a legitimate course of action.
  • You are willing to put the interests of the company ahead of your own beliefs.

Overall, this type of answer is positive, shows you are committed to the company, and shows that you know how to effectively deal with conflicts without getting upset or angry.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Answer job interview questions about conflicts positively.
  • Tell stories of how you overcame past conflicts if possible.
  • Use answers that show a logical and adaptive mind.

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4 Responses to Interview Question: How Would You Deal With Conflict in the Office?

  1. Asfarkhan Patel December 25, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    I have to spend my most of the time in communication also a good listener is a good speaker so when dealing with conflict, I first listen hard to the other person or people on the other side of the issue to be sure I understand what their argument is, and try to determine their open mindedness to hear another perspective. I then lay out my case and hear their response. I either sell them on my side, get sold on their point of view, or compromise to make both sides as sanguine as possible, so that it is no longer a “them vs me” but a side-by-side team going forward.

  2. review January 28, 2016 at 8:30 am #

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    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further.

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