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How To Answer: How Do You Deal With Conflict At Work?

“How do you deal with conflict at work?”

Conflict at work happens. It can be a problematic occurrence for both the employee and the employer. In your next interview, the interviewer will want to know how you deal with the potential incident. Even if you have never experienced a conflictual situation before.

It’s important to be able to answer this interview question with a calm and well-thought answer to reflect you in the best possible light.

Follow these 4 tips to make answering this question a breeze!

Why does the interviewer want to know about a conflict?

This is a behavioural interview question. You are asked this usually because the interviewer wants to know how well you can handle pressure, deal with difficult situations and if you are reactive to conflict.

How you choose to answer, can give the interviewer a better understanding of your personality type. Indicating how well you will fit into the potential new role with the current employees.

How will a conflict affect your job chances?

If you have had a conflict at work, how will this affect your chances of getting the new job? You may be hesitant to tell the interviewer the full extent of what previously happened. Especially if things escalated.

But instead of justifying your reaction and explaining what caused the conflict, answer this question in a manner that describes how you dealt with and overcame the situation.

What counts as a conflict?

A full-blown argument? A heated exchange? Or a minor disagreement? It’s completely up to you to decide how much you want the interviewer to know.

But remember the more you describe a conflict as an episode of hostility the less they may look upon you favourably. It’s probably safer (for your job chances) to describe your experience as a disagreement rather than a conflict.

Rationalise your answer

Justify your answer. It’s worthwhile explaining there was a general disagreement, rather than describing the nitty-gritty details.

For example, if a past dispute happened because you were unhappy with a co-workers performance, focus on how you both resolved the issue. Rather than making it personal and placing the blame on your fellow colleague, who is not there to defend themselves. This will not only look unprofessional, it’s very subjective and won’t convince the interviewer your easy to work alongside.

How to answer (example answer…)

“I previously worked in an extremely competitive environment where as you can imagine, tensions ran high. Whilst I won’t go into specific details… I have faced disagreements in a work environment. In one instance with a close colleague of mine, we experienced an incident that led to a small failure. At first, we both wanted to place the blame on each other. However, after realising this wouldn’t resolve anything, I took them aside and we talked through our issues. This meeting was far more effective than any frustrated exchange could have ever achieved.”


And that’s it! Good luck with your next job interview and if you’re looking for more advice check out other job interview questions here.

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