Job Interview Question & Answer: Have You Ever Had Trouble with a Boss, Co-worker, or Customer?

Types Of Conflicts In The Workplace

Workers commonly run into problems of varying severity at the office or on the clock. Sometimes conflicts stem from misunderstanding protocol or procedure. Other issues result from the inability to adapt to new processes. Another major cause of workplace issues includes discrepancies with bosses, coworkers, or customers, depending on the industry. While many professionals go entire careers without running into issues with superiors, peers, or target audiences, circumstances often arise which test the resolves of employees and may result in behavioral infractions.

How To Respond To Questions About Past Indiscretions

Applicants going through the hiring process for new jobs often run into questions related to past indiscretions in the workplace with former supervisors, fellow employees, and/or customers. Hiring personnel commonly phrase the questions as: “Have you ever had trouble with a coworker or customer?” Managers may also pose the question in subtle ways, such as: “Do you get along well with others?” or “Have you ever had a challenging boss or coworker?” The interview questions used most often center on conflict and speak directly to issues between applicants and former bosses or professional peers.

Be Prepared to Show Proof
Individuals without any previous experience dealing with incidents involving bosses or coworkers may need to offer evidence. Some employers ask follow-up questions to see if applicants provide truthful information about work history. If hiring personnel continue to ask direct questions following an inquiry related to past issues in the workplace, remain calm and reiterate the same information. The follow-up questions usually serve as a method to ensure consistency in the responses of each interviewee.

Never Say Never
The best course of action for an applicant with issues stemming from arguments or incidents involving bosses, coworkers, or customers involves honesty. Revealing difficult work histories demonstrates character and says more about professional attitudes than lying or dismissing the subject. When sharing information regarding troubles with bosses, coworkers, or customers, provide objective details. Refrain from speaking negatively about the situation, persons involved, or eventual disciplinary actions, if applicable. Briefly state the offenses or mitigating circumstances, provide any outcomes, and walk through the steps taken to correct the behaviors leading to the discrepancies and to prevent future indiscretions.

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