Interview questions and answers: Give an example dealing with conflicts

Some people are surprised to get this interview question, but it's now a feature of many job interviews. A lot more emphasis is being given to 'relationships' questions, and this can be one of the most important.

The relevance of the interview question is based on workplace realities. Some very high stress jobs, like public contact, are conflict creating jobs. Nerves get frayed, and people respond. Employers, rightly, are trying to find people who know how to cope with the problems.

This interview question can also cause difficulties for people who've had no experience of the issues. Any interview answer must demonstrate awareness of the problems, and show ability to handle conflict.

Your interview answer to the dealing with conflict interview question

The big issues in this interview question are:

  • Awareness of people's sensitivities
  • Knowledge of correct procedures for dealing with conflict
  • Understanding of the need to avoid escalation of conflicts

Awareness of people's sensitivities

Your interview answer must express clear understanding of the need to respect other people's views and rights.

Knowledge of correct procedures for dealing with conflict

Every workplace has some process for handling conflict. When giving your interview answer, make it clear that you work by the rules set by management.

Understanding of the need to avoid escalation of conflicts

Escalation can be very damaging in the workplace. Your interview answer should clearly indicate you understand that problem.

You can choose an example, but the requirements for the interview answer aren't variable. Your interview answer should be given in a clear, logical sequence.

You have to tell the story in this format:

  • What were the circumstances? Describe the situation so interviewers understand the issues.
  • What was the conflict? Clearly explain the reasons for the clash.
  • What did you do about it? Describe how you solved the problem.
  • What was the result? How did your solution turn out?

It's like explaining both sides of an argument, for the purposes of your interview answer.

Example

The question is 'Give an example of successfully resolving a conflict in the workplace'. You'll note that this is a loaded interview question. The interview answer has to demonstrate resolution of the conflict.

'I was working in customer service. We had a problem with a customer who wanted a refund. I wanted to give her a refund. Another staff member said we couldn't do that. We couldn't agree.

I suggested that we check store policy, to be sure. We asked our manager. We were able to give the refund. The other staff member thanked me for checking, because he could have made a bad mistake.'

Analysis

This interview answer demonstrates:

  • Awareness of the clear need to check facts and follow management policy.
  • Awareness of the position of the other party.
  • Understanding of the customer's rights.
  • Clear description of the problem and solution.

The interview answer meets the required skill levels.