Conflicts belong to every workplace. It is not possible to agree with all your subordinates, it is not possible to avoid conflicts completely. However, when they give you this question in an interview, you should stress that you do your best to avoid conflicts and keep the atmosphere on the workplace as friendly as possible.
Once you stress your intentions to avoid conflicts, it is time to speak about situations when you actually needed to deal with one. Please note that is goes about a behavioral interview question. Interviewer inquires about a past situation, not about what would you do if there’s a conflict. Therefor, you should look into your memory and recall some conflict situations from the past, ideally from the workplace.
If you have no working experience, you can still talk about a conflict you had with one of your mates or teachers or anyone else. It is better than to say that you have no experience with conflict situations.
Conflict solved, lesson learned
The most important thing is to choose a situation when you solved a conflict successfully. You should describe the reason why the conflict broke out, what you did to solve it and what lesson you learned. Let’s have a look at some good sample answers:
One of my former colleagues did not like me. She was arguing with me all the time, for no reason. I was sad about it, because I had no problem with her and I did not want to have conflicts with my colleagues. I invited her for a coffee and apologized for my behavior, although there was nothing I should apologize for. However, our relationship got better ever since and we actually became friends. I believe that sometimes it is better to humiliate yourself, as sometimes it is the only way how to solve a conflict. That is the lesson I learned in this case.
My subordinate was lazy and always late. However, I understood his difficult family situation, so I tolerated it for some time. But one day other colleagues complained about him, so I had to talk to him. He was angry, because his working results were good and he was a responsible guy, just sometimes he came late. What I did was that I appraised him for his work but explained how it looked in the eyes of other people, that he was often late for work. Actually he thought about it and agreed that it was not good. He started to be on time more often since that talk and we had no problems together.