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Interview Preparation

How to Answer 'How Do You Deal with Conflict?' In an Interview

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated August 24, 2021

Guide Overview

How to answer interview questions about dealing with conflictTips for explaining how you deal with conflictWhat not to include in an answer to interview questions about conflictExample interview question and answer about workplace conflict with colleaguesExample question and answer for workplace conflicts with customersExample question and answer for workplace conflicts with managers

Guide Overview

Understanding interview questions like 'How do you deal with conflict?

During an interview, an employer may ask behavioral interview questions like 'How do you deal with conflict?' to learn how well you handle challenging workplace situations. To gain a better understanding of your personality, problem-solving skills, and professionalism in the workplace, some of these questions could be related to your conflict-resolution skills. Learn more about how to answer the question, 'How do you deal with conflict?' and review examples of strong conflict-related interview questions and answers.

How to answer interview questions about dealing with conflict

When interviewers ask you about dealing with conflict in the workplace, they’re often trying to understand your strategy for handling it positively and professionally. Provide a detailed and relevant real-life example using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method. Follow these steps to help you successfully answer interview questions about dealing with conflict:

  1. Briefly describe the conflict that occurred. The situation portion of the STAR method involves explaining the workplace issue briefly, but with enough context that the interviewer can more easily picture the situation.
  2. Mention your role in the situation. Use the task section of the STAR method to describe your role in the situation and what you were trying to accomplish.
  3. Explain how you approached the problem and any actions you took. During the action step, you should be finished describing the situation and issue. You can now move on to the actions you took to resolve it. Use this section to explain the steps you took to resolve the workplace issue.
  4. Share results that prove how the outcome was positive. The final portion of the STAR method is the positive results you achieved from the actions you took to solve the problem. Mention the exact positive outcome you gained from the situation, like a client leaving you a positive review, or share statistical proof with numbers, like an 20% increase in sales, for example.

Tips for explaining how you deal with conflict

Use these tips to help you come up with a great answer for how you deal with conflict in the workplace:

  • Provide a relevant and specific answer. Make sure your answer is relevant to the question at hand and doesn’t veer off-topic. It should clearly detail your situation, how you resolved it, and the results you saw from it. After hearing your answer, the interviewers should clearly understand your methods for successfully resolving difficult workplace situations.
  • Practice delivering your example. Having an answer in mind beforehand helps you look professional and confident during the interview. Practice with a friend or colleague and ask them for honest feedback on your delivery.
  • Show how well you can stay calm and understand the other person’s point of view. Many interviewers are asking you this question to gauge how calmly and rationally you can solve problems. Your answer should also help them understand how you try to see the other person’s point of view as you solve the issue.

What not to include in an answer to interview questions about conflict

There are certain phrases and answers you should avoid when answering interview questions about workplace conflict. As you provide an answer, try not to:

  • Mention how you don’t handle conflict well
  • Explain that you’ve never experienced conflict
  • Provide a vague or general answer

Example interview question and answer about workplace conflict with colleagues

Employers often want to know how well you’ll fit in with other members of the department you’re applying for. When you answer this question, emphasize the importance of collaboration and resolving problems professionally as a team.

Question: Can you tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with another member of your team and how you resolved it?’

Answer: ‘Our marketing team had to build and implement a new digital marketing campaign, and I was assigned to oversee the project and delegate tasks to each team member. One employee was upset that I was chosen to lead the campaign over them and refused to complete their tasks. I asked them to meet privately to learn why they were upset.

I listened to their side and told them that I understood where they were coming from. I explained that if they work hard with our team to submit a strong project, our supervisor may notice this and consider them for other promotions or responsibilities in the future. They agreed and completed their tasks, which led to a 20% customer conversion rate and high praise from our supervisor.’

Example question and answer for workplace conflicts with customers

If you’re applying for a customer or client-facing role, your interviewer may want to know your strategy for resolving potential workplace conflicts with customers. Talk about a time when you treated a customer with respect as you politely and professionally resolved their issue.

Question: Provide an example of when you had to resolve an issue with an unhappy customer.’

Answer: When I was working as a manager at a retail store, a customer had previously seen boots they wanted to buy and asked one of our salespeople to put them on hold. The salesperson accidentally forgot, and the boots were out of stock when the customer had returned. I listened to their problems, apologized, and showed them the boots we currently had in stock that were a similar style and pattern. I offered them a 10% discount for the inconvenience and they purchased the new boots from us.’

Example question and answer for workplace conflicts with managers

Employers often want to know how well you can follow directions from managers and your method for handling disagreements with them. Try to remain positive when answering this question and stay away from bad-mouthing your previous supervisor.

Question: ‘Have you ever had a disagreement with your manager? How was it resolved?’

Answer: My manager and I have had a few disagreements in the past but are always comfortable expressing them to each other. For example, I wanted to work on an important upcoming project and had expressed this to my manager. When they assigned the project to a different employee instead, I requested a meeting with my supervisor. I politely and professionally explained how this disappointed me and made me feel under-appreciated and ignored. My manager thanked me for expressing this and explained that they had a different upcoming project that was better suited for my skills and interests.’

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