Have You Ever Disagreed with a Boss or Co-worker?

Job Interview Question & Answer: Have You Ever Had Trouble with Someone at Work?

Why Managers Ask This Question

Interviewers ask candidates about having trouble with someone at work because managers want to know more about the job seeker’s interpersonal skills and how well they resolve conflicts with others. This question is a good way of understanding whether a potential employee gets along well with their coworkers.

How To Answer

A hiring manager might ask, “Do you get along well with others?” or “Have you ever had a challenging boss or coworker?” Describe a real scenario where you had a conflict with a coworker or customer that you resolved in a positive way. Answer with a friendly, upbeat tone and be honest with your responses since employers may have follow-up questions.

What Not to Say

Avoid going into detail about the person involved in the conflict, and choose your words carefully when talking about them. Whether you had a troublesome manager or terrible customer interaction, now is not the time to vent about it. Keep a professional attitude, and don’t draw out the conflict longer than necessary.

It might be tempting to dismiss this question, so you seem like the perfect employee. Hiring managers will likely see through that tactic immediately. Be brief but honest, and highlight the steps you took to resolve the conflict and turn it into a positive experience.

Tips for Answering “Have You Ever Had Difficulty Working with A Manager?”

Because so many different types of disputes exist, a manager asking if you ever had a problem with a customer or coworker can seem daunting. Your response reveals your ability to create a smooth working relationship in a tricky situation. Here are a few tips to help guide you through answering this common interview question:

  • Emphasize what you learned from the conflict, whether it improved your communication skills or gave you a better understanding of how management operates.
  • Keep your responses focused on the resolution rather than the conflict to maintain an upbeat, professional tone.
  • Mention how the people involved felt afterward and offer a positive result that came from the situation.
  • Refrain from getting too personally involved in the example and keep a professional tone throughout.
  • Choose an example that relates to the industry or position.
  • Make sure the situation you use sheds a positive light on you as the mediator.

Sample Responses to “Have You Ever Had A Hard Time with A Customer or Coworker?”

Having a couple of examples of workplace dilemmas to read through can help you frame your response. Here are some sample answers to get you started before the interview:

Sample Answer 1 – Assistant Management Position at a Retail Store

“I had a frustrated customer once who wanted to return an item that we could not accept. I explained that we could not return a perishable item. She asked to speak to a supervisor, so I promptly called my manager. He gave a clear, simple explanation of the store’s policy. Once she understood, she apologized for the misunderstanding, and I learned more about the details of the store’s return process.”

Sample Answer 2 – Hostess at a Restaurant

“At my first job at a fast-food restaurant, I had trouble learning the menu, and it frustrated my supervisor. So, I went to work early one day, discussed it with her, and asked if she had any more training materials that might help me. She gave me some tips, and by the next week, I had it completely memorized.”

Types of Conflicts for People with No Work Experience

An interview question like, “Have you ever disagreed with a boss or a coworker?” speaks directly to issues between the applicant and former bosses, peers, and sometimes customers. If you lack job experience, managers may consider that and ask you about school or sports instead.

If you can’t pull from work experience to answer this question, consider a time when you disagreed with a teacher over a grade or settled an argument during a group project. Whether you have job experience or not, conflict resolution is crucial for the workplace, and employers like to see potential hires with this skill.

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