Have you had to deal with a conflict at work? Hopefully not, but most people who are in the workforce long enough will eventually have to deal with a conflict.
Understanding the question
It’s important to understand the question you are being asked. This question doesn’t imply that you were the one to start or instigate the problem, just that you had to deal with it. Maybe you sat quietly at your desk while people bickered around you. Maybe you were the mediator that solved the problem and found a fair resolution. Or maybe you were the instigator who caused the conflict at work. When someone asks you to describe a time you dealt with a conflict at work, the important part is the conclusion. How you dealt with the conflict. The employer is trying to get an idea of your conflict resolution skills. This will tell them a lot about your personality. Are you the type of person who just likes to stay out of it?
Are you the type of person who likes to involve yourself and try to mediate? Or are you the type of person who likes to instigate conflicts and hold a grudge? If you want to be successful in the interview, you must focus on a conflict with a positive conclusion.
Once you finish learning how to describe a time you dealt with a conflict at work, learn How To Answer The 16 Most Common Interview Questions.
The 40/60 Rule
When you begin to explain the situation, spend only about 40% of your time on the actual problem and events that led up to the problem. The remaining 60% should focus on the actions that you took to deal with the conflict.
Here is an example…
“At ABC Company I was assigned a task by a member of the engineering department. He needed help from myself and one other member of the marketing team to finish a web page design. Unfortunately, his deadline expectations were unrealistic for us.I had never met this individual since our departments were in separate buildings, so I asked to get together with him for lunch. I kindly asked him to walk me through his expectations for my role in this project. After he laid out his expectations, I walked him through the steps that we were taking to ensure the project was done accurately. Once we had the chance to learn about each other’s processes, we had a much better understanding of the timeframes that were realistic. We agreed on a do-able timeframe that would help us both meet our goals and the conflict was resolved before it could escalate.”
What’s your story?
Everybody is going to have a unique story to tell. The worst thing you could do is not answer the question and say you have never dealt with a conflict. The employer would have no idea how you are going to react when a sticky situation occurs, or if you can even handle it. Remember, conflict is inevitable.
The longer you are working, the more conflict you will see. It’s how you deal with it that will show your true character.