“The secret is to gang up on the problem, rather than each other.” —Thomas Stallkamp
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone in the workplace understood this. Sadly many do not, which is why employers specifically look for people who work well with others and can deal with conflict openly and honestly. Employers want to hire applicants that can handle themselves in conflict, but also do what they can to reduce it. This is why you may be asked about your ability to handle conflict in this very common behavioral interview question:
Behavioral Interview Question: Describe a situation where you had a conflict with another individual, and how you dealt with it. What was the outcome? How did you feel about it?
Be very careful, you do not want to sound bitter, resentful, or angry. Sound confident instead. Show that you know that conflict occurs, and when it does you are ready to solve it. You will also want to avoid examples of:
- Conflict with bosses
- Conflict with clients
Ideally the conflict should be professional, not personal, and focus either on outside vendors/suppliers, unrelated departments, or coworkers with whom you have an excellent relationship.
“A few years ago, our product supplier claimed to have dropped off a pallet that we never received. The pallet had thousands of dollars in inventory, so this was a significant loss, but the supplier was adamant that they had delivered the pallet correctly to the right address.
With little information to go on, I convinced the distributor to provide us with the contact information of the driver that worked our route. We spoke about the day in question, and discussed the route that the driver took. Together we contacted some of his other clients on the route to see if they had received any extra products. After several hours of phone calls, we found that the pallet had been dropped off at the company after ours, and signed for by someone that was new to their organization.”
Here we see conflict that is not at all personal in nature, and your willingness to put in the work to solve it. Nowhere do you sound as though you are bitter about the experience or passing blame onto the driver. You are simply stating a professional problem that occurred, and you are showing the employer that you’re a problem solver.
Please Comment Below:
What are some examples of conflict that you have experienced in your work history? Do you have any examples for others on what would make a good “conflict” answer?