Answering conflict resolution interview questions is challenging for every job candidate.
The classic question, “How do you handle conflict?” and your response to this query can either land your dream job or prevent any employer from considering you as a viable candidate.
You should expect some form of this question in any interview, so it’s wise to prepare well for this in advance. You should prepare to answer positively, but truthfully.
If you are a person who avoids conflict, yet you answer this question as though you are able to conflict well, you could end up working for someone who clashes with your personality, and you won’t be doing yourself any favors.
So how do you handle conflict?
Think back to situations in your past where you have handled conflict poorly and situations where you have handled it well. You are going to need one or two examples that you can tell your interviewer about that demonstrate your ability to manage conflict in an appropriate manner.
Your interviewer will want to feel confident that you are telling the truth, and not just saying what he wants to hear. Any person with common sense knows that when someone says they never get angry, or they’ve never encountered conflict at school or work, they are not telling the truth. So don’t even go there.
Applying conflict resolution ideas
Now that you have a couple of past experiences in mind that show how you handle conflict for your interview, review them in your mind. How have you applied the lessons you learned to better handle or prevent conflict in other situations?
Share these scenarios with a trusted friend or family member to get their views, and then consider how a stranger would react to hearing them. If you are a team player, think of an anecdote that demonstrates that. If you prefer to confront issues, think of a time when you did so calmly and successfully, and prepare to share your story honestly with your interviewer.
If all of your experiences show that you run from conflict and you know you can’t tolerate working for an overbearing boss, you can tell your interviewer that you tend to avoid conflict, but that you manage to maintain positive relationships in the office. Never paint yourself unrealistically in an interview, or you may set yourself up for failure in a job that doesn’t fit you well.
And while you don’t want to overestimate your abilities to handle conflict, you can do yourself as much harm by focusing on the negative. The idea is to be honest, yet positive during a job interview when asked how you handle conflict.
Think of a time that you were once asked to improve your job performance. This is a situation that presents itself in nearly everyone’s career. How did you respond? Even if your ego was battered a bit at the time, did you learn from the experience and use the criticism to improve your skills?
This is what your interviewer wants to know. The interview question, “How do you handle conflict,” is not a trick question. Rather, a diligent interviewer will always ask this to learn more about you and how you might fit into their organization. So prepare, stay positive, and relax for a great interview.