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Behavioral Interview
Questions

| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 30

Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with.

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Behavioral Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with.

      The interviewer wants to know how well you work with others despite personality or work style differences. Keep your answer simple and avoid overdramatizing any event. Avoid extreme responses that include:

      - Speaking negatively of others
      - Telling the interviewer that you get along with everyone
      - Naming people in your story example

      Focus on a time when your work style was different than another person, but perhaps you still had to complete a project together. Discuss, in a positive tone, how you made it work!

      Behavioral-based interview questions that begin with 'Tell me about a time...' are best answered using the STAR method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Organizing your response using this framework will ensure that you provide the interviewer with the right amount of information and detail to form a compelling answer.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "(Situation) Last month, I had to collaborate with another project manager with a different working style. (Task) As an experienced PM who comes from the tech industry, I find timely client follow up to be mission-critical. This particular PM had a much more relaxed approach. (Action) Before the project launched, I asked to meet one-on-one. We discussed our strengths and created a basic outline of expectations and timelines. (Result) By taking this communicative approach right away, we were able to collaborate quite well and ensured a fantastic project outcome. In the end, I truly enjoyed working alongside this PM."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Admin interview

      "(Situation) About one year ago, I had an administrative team member who was constantly late to meetings and missed deadlines. (Task) This person was newer to their career, and, as the administrative department lead, it was important to me that they succeeded. (Action) I approached this person privately to understand what was going on, and what was preventing them from working well with the team. When they shared their struggles with me, I offered the proper support and resources. (Result) By taking the time to nurture the situation, rather than simply terminate the person, I was able to mentor and grow one of the best Administrative Assistants I have ever had."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Manager interview

      "(Situation) Many of my team members can be a touch rough around the edges. I recently had a forklift driver flip me the bird after a daily huddle. (Task) As an experienced Logistics Manager, I have worked with a variety of people who challenge me, and I do not shy away from potential conflict. (Action) I called this person into my office immediately and reminded them of our code of conduct. I wrote them up with a warning, which they needed to sign in acknowledgment. (Result) So far, this driver has been in check, and I continue to monitor their behavior closely."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Marketing interview

      "(Situation) Years ago, I had a team member who would scoff at other coworkers' ideas in meetings and loudly proclaimed that he was the smartest person in our office. (Task) As the Marketing Manager, I knew this behavior would not fly. (Action) I approached him in tandem with our Human Resources Partner to talk about the culture he was cultivating. We wanted to create a resolution with him. (Result) It turned out that he did not want to work in our division as he felt the projects were too 'junior' for his experience. He ended up requesting and receiving a transfer. By initiating an open conversation with this person, we were able to uncover his need. We also the needs of our team by protecting the workplace culture."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Retail interview

      "(Situation) Recently, our head office launched a sales competition between all store locations. (Task) This sales competition meant working alongside other associates to reach this goal. However, as a highly commissioned retail professional, these associates were typically my competition. (Action) I pushed those competitive thoughts to the side and jumped into action. I called a group meeting to outline goals and targets, and to gain total buy-in from all sales associates. I distributed specific goals to each associate, as per their hours and previous sales results. (Result) In the end, our store won first place out of fifteen locations. It felt great to win!"

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Sales interview

      "(Situation) I often have to collaborate with a sales manager who approaches problems, and people, very different than I do. She is more comfortable taking an indirect, apologetic route, whereas I prefer to tackle things head-on and with enthusiasm. (Task) Our sales were slipping, and it was important for our department that we worked well together. (Action) I suggested a one-on-one meeting where we mapped out our vision for the department in the short and long term. We crafted a plan to leverage each of our strengths and build on the other's ideas. (Result) Not only has our sales department become stronger and more successful, but I have learned some great communication techniques from her."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Teacher interview

      "(Situation) I have conflicting teaching styles from one of the primary substitute teachers on my list. She likes the students to be quiet, and I like my students to be up and moving whenever possible and appropriate. (Task) I know my teaching style drives her nuts, and she's gone so far as to give my students conflicting information. As the full-time teacher, I knew that I needed to nip the situation in the bud. (Action) I was sure to be respectful of her feelings; however, I gently reminded her that I was leading my classroom in a way that my students respond to best. I asked her to honor the classroom culture I have created and gently reminded her that I could source a different substitute teacher. I was firm but respectful, and I stood up for myself. (Result) Months later, we seem to be working more harmoniously together."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a 911 Dispatcher interview

      "In a previous position, I had a team member who was constantly late for their shift and my team meetings. They were a critical part of my team, so I approached them privately to understand what was going on that was preventing them from working well with the team. As her manager, I need to offer her the support she needed to become a reliable team member again. We created an action plan which she stuck to quite well after our initial conversation."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Heavy Equipment Operator interview

      "Last month I had to collaborate on a project with a corporate project manager who works very differently than I do. I find timely follow up to be incredibly important and this particular PM seemed to be more relaxed with that aspect. I continued to work how I always do but did ask this PM a couple of times to communicate more frequently with me in order to make the collaboration smoother. I fully understand that not everyone will work in perfect synergy and that is okay. It's what makes everyone unique. There is always a professional workaround available - sometimes you just have to approach the situation head-on but in a respectful way."

      Clara's Answer
       for a Translator interview

      "In a former job, I worked on a team that had challenges with communication. We didn't have standards for how information was distributed, when, and to whom, and email correspondence often got lost. This would result in missed deadlines and last-minute rushes. I believe that communication is critical to successfully operating a team and executing projects that involve multiple people, so I would tailor my communication based on each individual and level of priority. For example, if I knew that a colleague was not responsive via email, then I would pop over to their desk for quick check-ins or set up a meeting to discuss in person. I would follow-up with an email outlining what we discussed to have documentation of the process for future reference. For projects involving multiple people, I would set up Microsoft Planner tasks and set automated reminders at deadlines. By automating our communication and tailoring one-on-one methods, we were able to increase our on-time efficiency."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Language Interpreter interview

      "As a language interpreter, I have worked with all types of people - simple and difficult alike. The personality types that I find most difficult to work with would probably be they type that are not engaged listeners. It takes a lot of concentration to do what we do and if someone is not respecting my time, that can become frustrating. Luckily, I have not experienced this much. Overall, my clients have been quite incredible and easy to work with."

      Anonymous Answer

      "I am currently working with a person who feels that her way is the only way. On the days I do work with her, I just adapt to her personality and go with the flow."

      Mary's Answer

      Consider providing more details to elaborate on the Situation, Actions, and Results. Actions, in particular, help demonstrate to interviewers how you think and act in certain scenarios. Interviewers look to behavioral-based responses to predict how an individual will operate in a similar, future circumstance.

      "Situation: I currently have a co-worker who can be difficult to get along with- she feels that her way of doing things is the only way. Action: On days we are scheduled to work at the same time, I adapt to her personality by adjusting my communication, asking her questions and adjusting my methods, always within compliance. Result: We have a productive working relationship despite her being viewed as a more difficult team member."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (14) or No (1)
      Anonymous Answer

      "I have had a co-worker that was always negative and always viewed things in the worst way possible. I always tried to keep things light when I talked to him to help cheer him up and keep him in a more positive mood. It helped balance him out so he could focus on the job in a more positive light."

      Kristine's Answer

      Excellent response! Your interviewer will be impressed you adapted your approach with your co-worker to make it work.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (6) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "A couple of years ago, we had a team member who was constantly late to team meetings and late on deadlines. She was a newly single mom, and it was not easy for her to focus on work. I approached her and let her know that we were a team and that I was willing to help her if the workload was too heavy, that she should just let the team lead know in advance. She became happy with our team."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Great example that shows empathy and leadership! I have reworded slightly, for the sake of flow.

      "I worked with a team member who was always late to meetings and constantly missing deadlines. I knew she was a newly single mom so I approached her in kindness, addressing the fact that she could not focus on her work. I told her that I was willing to help, and reminded her that she could lean on the team. She began collaborating much better after that conversation."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "Project Management involves managing different personalities and work styles. I recall one Director who skirted my questions and meetings until I had to say in a one-on-one meeting "Your boss has charged me with XYZ - you can help me or I will be forced to let her know we can't work together. My preference would be to work this out together ourselves, what is your preference?" We were able to come to an agreement on our own and not directly involve her boss"

      Nazish's Answer

      My suggestion would be to use a more positive, professional tone. If you could show how you tried to collaborate more with the Director, it would show a great team player mentality in a difficult situation.

      "As a Project Manager, I work with various types of personalities and work styles. I once worked with a Director who was not making my meetings a priority, thus delaying our project. I reached out to her directly and explained how her manager had identified her as someone who could be a great contributor to the project, and therefore it would be ideal if the two of us had a good working relationship on this project and could move forward without the involvement of her manager. We were able to come to an understanding and work effectively from that point forward."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "Working along with people who are difficult to get along with is challenging. This happened last semester with one of my classmates. He was always late to work on projects together and very rude. I asked him to try to be on time nicely, but he was never willing to make an effort to make the situation better. I just did the part which was assigned to me and try to help him with his part after I was finished."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It sounds like this person was challenging, indeed! Did you meet your project deadline in the end?

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "I have a very knowledgeable staff member, but her productivity numbers were not encouraging. I had a one-on-one meeting with her to identify what was holding her up. During the meeting, I acknowledged her experience and the fact that she's a go-to person, and I wanted to know what was holding her back and what I could do to help her. She was honest with me about being bored with what she was doing and needing something different. I assured her that I was willing to help her in any way I can. Her numbers went up after the meeting."

      Mary's Answer

      This is a good example of your ability to communicate with coworkers who may have a different work ethic from yourself, or are difficult to lead. Nice job! I have reworded slightly for brevity.

      "I have a very knowledgable staff member, but her productivity numbers were not encouraging. I had a one-on-one meeting with her to identify what was holding her up, and to remind her I was there to help. I acknowledged her experience and that she is the go-to person for her payer. She was honest with me about being bored and needing variety in her work. I assured her I would help in any way I could. Her numbers went up after our meeting."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "Generally speaking, I work well with others. Because of this, I do take it personally when I run into someone difficult to get along with. This happened on our team while we were expanding, and this person was bringing the energy level down during our weekly meetings. I asked her to coffee, and over the course of getting to know each other discovered that she felt intimidated by being a new college grad on a team with such experience. I did the best I could to be more inclusive, and over time she found her niche."

      Rachelle's Answer

      I like that you took the time to correct this colleague's path and helped her to succeed in her job. Good answer!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I was working at a facility where I was teamed up with a coworker to provide DCS and PLC support. We worked a little differently and because of this it made it a little more difficult than usual to work with him. We had different ways of thinking of things and troubleshooting. In order to fix our conflict, I had to stop and opened my mind to his ways of doing things instead of always conflicting with him and learned that some of his way were more efficient. Because of this we came to respect one another and did a better job supporting the facility."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Great start! To enhance your answer, elaborate on how the work styles and ways of thinking of you and your coworker differed. I assisted with wording in places to ensure clarity.

      "I was working at a facility where I teamed up with a coworker to provide DCS and PLC support. Our working styles differed, which made it a little more difficult to work together. We had different ways of thinking about things and troubleshooting. To fix our conflict, I had to stop and open my mind to his ways of doing things, and ultimately, I learned that some of his ways were more efficient than mine. Because of this, we came to respect one another and did a better job supporting the facility."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "During my last semester of pharmacy school, each student was coupled with another student to complete our most important and final presentation for the program. We were expected to complete this presentation over the course of 12 months during our rotations and present it upon completion of rotations. I was coupled with a student that had a very different personality than me. I was able to confirm that at the first meeting we had, as it didn’t go as easy and smooth as I was hoping it would go. I was hoping to meet monthly and complete one section of the presentation each time we met, while she wanted to work on this project during our last rotation which was only one month prior to the due date. She was not cooperating with my suggestion, and she recommended that I work on the project on my own on a monthly basis if I wanted to, as she was not willing to meet monthly. I was very uncomfortable about the way she wanted to complete this project and about her demeanor, as I don’t like to leave things to last minute and I would like to have a positive attitude towards each other, so I decided to express that to her. I explained that the way I like to work on a long term project is by creating a check list, setting goals and deadlines for each section, and completing the project before the assigned due date. I just believe that time management can reduce or even eliminate stress that’s caused by any unforeseen events. I explained if a major life event happens in my life or hers during that last month prior to the due date and we wouldn’t be able to meet as often as needed to complete the project, it wouldn’t be fair for either of us to do the majority of the work to make up for the other person’s part. And more importantly, that could possibly affect the quality of our presentation. She was able to understand my view and upon further discussion, we decided to meet every 6 weeks instead of every month. We were able to complete our presentation 5 months prior to the due date. We were left with plenty of time to revise and edit the presentation in our spare time and during the last month, we only needed to meet twice to work on our presentation delivery. At the end, we were able to deliver an A+ presentation, as evaluated by our faculty members."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It's great that you were able to compromise and meet every 6 weeks rather than every month. Also, a wonderful success in the end! Great work using the STAR framework to deliver your story-based response.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (0) or No (1)
      Anonymous Answer

      "I was working on a project with a senior rep, who didn't want to go to our supervisor with some questions we had. I am the type always to ask questions if I am unsure of an answer because I wanted to get the job done right. I went to the supervisor with the issues. The senior rep wasn't pleased with me; however, the project was completed, and we made the sale."

      Rachelle's Answer

      A good result in the end and you know that you did what was right. This is a good example of you taking the initiative and following your instinct...important qualities in sales.

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