Conflicts belong to every workplace. Doesn’t matter how hard we try, we just can’t avoid them completely. Once you stress how you try to avoid conflicts with your friendly behavior and understanding for the opinions of other people who share the workplace with you (that’s how you should start your interview answer), you should speak about the conflict you had in the past.
If you have no previous working experience, mention a conflict you had with your schoolmate or a teacher, and if nothing else, you can even talk about a conflict in your personal life, or one that you experienced only in your mind :). Remember that the interviewers are interested in your attitude, and the particular situation you narrate doesn’t play an important role in this case (unless it sounds unrealistic).
Conflict solved, lesson learned
The most important thing is to choose a conflict you eventually solved. You should describe the reason why the conflict broke out, what you did to solve it, and what lessons you learned. Let’s have a look at sample answers:
One of my former colleagues did not like me. She was arguing with me all time, and for no reason. I was sad about it, because I had no problems with her and I did not want to have conflicts with my colleagues. I invited her for a coffee and apologized for my behavior, though there was nothing I should apologize for. However, our relationship got better and we actually became friends. This situation taught me that sometimes the only thing we can do is to show humility, and tell the other person they are right, even if they are not.
My subordinate was lazy and always late. However, I understood their difficult family situation, so I tolerated the absences for some time. But one day other colleagues complained, so I had to talk to him. He was angry, because his working results were good and he was a responsible employee, just sometimes he came late. What I did was that I appraised him for his work, and just then I explained how his late arrivals looked in the eyes of other people who always came in time. Logical and friendly explanation, and a little praise, helped me to solve the conflict we had together.
- Describe a situation when you needed to meet a tight deadline.
- Describe the situation when you did not reach the target.