Why Interviewers Ask It
Most work environments include diverse personalities, and employers need associates capable of working well with others in order to maintain professional work environments. Interviewers ask: “Tell me about a time you resolved a conflict,” and similar sounding questions to determine candidate abilities in functioning as part of teams. The question also evaluates applicant abilities to recognize and resolve problems. The behavioral question probes for relevant, real-life experience because past behaviors regularly prove as the best indicators for future actions.
How To Answer the Question
To best answer the question, a candidate wants to use the S.T.A.R (situation, task, action, result) or C.A.R (challenge, action, result) method, e.g. the techniques involve describing problematic situations, the actions taken to address problems, and results achieved. Candidates should choose specific situations in which productivity suffered due to conflicts. Good responses show personal accountability and applicants taking active roles to resolve situations and feature positive outcomes, preferably with measurable results.
Topics You Should Cover
Responses should remain career-oriented and deal with on-the-job situations. The best examples include conflicts between coworkers or between coworkers and customers. Never discuss conflicts between candidates and former or current coworkers. Employers typically view conflict-resolution stories centered on candidates as bias. Instead, discuss a conflict resolved as a third party. Applicants without relevant work experience may draw from examples from group projects in school or involvement in extracurricular organizations. Never bring up personal conflicts with family members, friends, or partners.
“At my last job, two of my teammates did not get along, and things escalated to the point that it affected productivity. While they were on shift together, assigned tasks would take half as long to complete because they refused to communicate with one and other. Once I recognized the problem, I talked with both of my teammates to understand each person’s take on the situation. I learned the two had a disagreement that stemmed from a conversation that was unrelated to work. Without taking a side on the issue, I informed them they needed to put the disagreement aside and act professionally at work in order to accomplish their tasks. Both my teammates were able to do so and task completion soon improved.”