How to answer the interview question “Give me an example of a time when you had a conflict in a professional environment”

Welcome back! If you have been following along and coming to the site every day, I owe you an apology. The initial plan was to write one blog post a day for 31 business days. However, the last two days I have not posted a blog post because work has been extremely hectic and required more attention. But I am back now and ready to tackle a really difficult question today, “Give me an example of a time when you had a conflict in a professional environment.”

This is a classic “walk the line” question. By that I mean answering it is a combination of revealing a challenge but at the same time, not making yourself look bad. It’s like “what is your biggest weakness” or “what would you like to improve upon”.

There are a few keys to answering this question correctly. The first key is your answer can’t be total BS. It needs to be a believable scenario in which a reasonable person could find themselves in while in an office setting. If you make the scenario seems improbable, it’s going to throw up red flags.

The second key is make the conflict one that makes you look reasonable and professional. At the end of the day, using an example where you and a colleague whom you respect had slightly different approaches to accomplish the same thing is probably best.

Thirdly, your example must demonstrate your ability to listen to their reasons and ultimately explain your reasoning well enough for your colleague to come over to your side and agree with you. The term conflict could mean quite a bit of different things in this scenario. It could mean an actual disagreement in which people become slightly unprofessional or it could just be a civil disagreement on approach. It will always serve you better to use an example in which everyone acts professional.

As long as you can do those three things, you should be fine. This is an example of a question you should practice answering. Have the scenario thought out and ready to go. If you have to think about this on the spot, odds are the story won’t come out as you would like. You also want to make sure you are direct and to the point. When people recall stories, they occasionally tend to let the stories drag on. If you can avoid that, it’s a great idea. Be direct and to the point.

Well there you have it. If you do those things you should have an easy time answering this question. Make sure you come back tomorrow when we answer the interview question “Tell me about a time you disappointed a customer”. If you liked this post, please share it or like it on social media. Thanks for reading and remember, there is never a bad time to hear about a great opportunity.

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