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Behavioral Interview
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| 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 worked with a person who did things very differently than you. How did you collaborate?

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Behavioral Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Tell me about a time when you worked with a person who did things very differently than you. How did you collaborate?

      The interviewer wants to see that you are a team player. Since everyone's work style is unique, it can be a challenge to collaborate with those who think differently from you. Maybe you are highly organized, and you had to work with someone messy. Perhaps you are a 'big picture' thinker, and you had to work with someone who micromanaged the details. Maybe you are a technology whiz, and you had to collaborate with someone who likes to deliver their work using paper and pen.

      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.

      Start by discussing the project you were working on and the ways your work styles differed from each other. Explain how you came to a mutual consensus on how to conquer the project. Show the interviewer that you are capable of giving merit to different working styles, even if they do not match your own.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "(Situation) My fellow administrator and I approach our work differently very differently. I prefer mapping out the situation and putting myself on a timeline, whereas she prefers to jump right into the task. (Task) After working on a few projects together, it became apparent that we needed to find a better balance between our two working styles. (Action) I called a private meeting, where we openly discussed our differences. We agreed to split our tasks up and come together at the end of each day. We also agreed to keep the lines of communication open throughout the day. (Result) So far, this approach has resulted in a more streamlined process. As different as we are from each other, we both agree that so long as we get to the end goal together, it doesn't always matter how we got there."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Admin interview

      "(Situation) My coworker in HR had a completely different working style than me, even down to how we organized files. (Task) Tasked with a total reorganization of our digital files, I knew it was time that we learned how to mesh our two working styles. (Action) I made a list of the areas in which we worked differently from each other, and sat with this person to work out our process. We divided up tasks according to top skills and compromised on some procedures. (Result) We powered through the task, and came out of the project with a much better understanding of each other."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Manager interview

      "(Situation) When I began my most recent role, I replaced a manager who very much believed in a dictatorship management style. (Task) It was a huge challenge to undo the damage created among the team. (Action) Without too much disruption, I implemented a more relaxed management style. My team was so used to a stringent workplace that they resisted my methods at first. (Result) Once I developed trust as their manager, we were able to create a healthy workplace culture, and productivity increased by 24%."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Marketing interview

      "(Situation) I recently collaborated with a designer who had a very different style of organizing and prioritizing work. I approach my work by scheduling meetings in advance and working off of lists. The designer was rarely prepared for meetings and spent a great deal of time talking about their personal life. (Task) I believed that we could work well together if we had clear boundaries and expectations. As the Marketing Manager, it was up to me to outline these boundaries. (Action) I took it upon myself to speak to that person about our different styles and come to an agreement on how we could work best together. (Result) The designer agreed and ended up adopting some of my organizational tools. I learned from this person, too, better embracing last-minute changes and creative pivots."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Retail interview

      "(Situation) When I worked at Store X, I was one of two team leads. Since we were sharing team and management responsibilities, we often had clashing opinions. (Task) I knew that I needed to collaborate with this other shift lead since our behavior would directly impact the productivity of our sales associates. (Action) By spending time writing out our main strengths, we were able to divvy up the work according to each other's strengths. (Result) This method solved the 'too many cooks in the kitchen' issue entirely."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Sales interview

      "(Situation) When I started my current job, my direct boss did things very differently than I. She was great with closing deals but was a tornado heading into meetings. She was always in a state of scrambling due to disorganization. (Task) It was hard to address this situation with her since she was my superior. However, I knew that my career success was also important. (Action) One day over lunch, we talked about our work stylings and how our professional styles impact the other person. (Result) We were able to cordially brainstorm ways that our styles could complement each other in the workplace. Since this conversation, we have worked harmoniously on multiple initiatives."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Teacher interview

      "(Situation) One of my colleagues and I had opposing views on teaching styles. (Task) This difference in opinion became an issue after we were assigned to share a split-grade class of 40 students. (Action) I worked very hard to be respectful of her love of worksheets, while I demonstrated the importance of movement and variety in the classroom. I used studies, as well as my own student's test scores, to show her how much they enjoy the approach in my classroom. Together, we agreed on some of the ways we should approach teaching these shared students. These approaches included putting a limit on the amount of desk work we assigned. I agreed to include some worksheets, and she incorporated more movement in the classroom. (Result) This compromise was a huge win for us as teachers and, most importantly, the students. Grades have increased, and friction has significantly decreased."

      Anonymous Answer

      "Initially, I ask questions if they have tried to work differently. But at the end of the day, I realize there is more than one way to get the job done."

      Rachelle's Answer

      The interviewer would appreciate a specific situation.

      "We recently hired a team member from a competing company who had habits and processes very different from our own. Initially, it was a challenge to work with this person, but I chose to embrace their competitive knowledge, learn their processes, and apply what I thought was helpful, leaving the rest."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (6) or No (3)
      Anonymous Answer

      "I value diversity, and any chance I get to work with someone who has a different approach than I do, I welcome. While I can be quite analytical, it's not my favorite aspect of the job, and I had the opportunity to work with a teammate who was very generous about teaching me how to run various reports. This greatly improved my analytics so that I could implement my business plan, and I am very grateful to her!"

      Rachelle's Answer

      This example sounds like an excellent collaboration! You came away with a lot, it sounds. Your answer would have even better balance if you added a quick sentence on what value you added to your colleague, in return.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (2) or No (1)
      Anonymous Answer

      "Often how I would approach a project has been different with whom I am Working. I generally would outline my vision of the ti Eline, then ask them for theirs. We would identify our weaknesses and strengths. Thus we identified who would take the lead when and where. Often we would need both of our efforts then bring them together with cut and paste the efforts for the finished project."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Same feedback as above. This is a situational question that requires a specific story or scenario. I have revised, below. Keep in mind that if an interviewer asks a 'tell me about a time' question, and you give a generalized answer, it could cost you the interview because the hiring authority will see it as being unprepared and not actively listening.

      "Last month I was assigned a project with a colleague who has trouble with remaining organized. I gave my vision of the timeline and asked them for theirs. Then, I asked for each of us to identify our strengths and weaknesses. This way, we could see who would take the lead when and where. We chose when both of us would work independently, and when we would work together. This approach helped us to collaborate because it encouraged a great deal of organization."

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

      "We knew we worked differently; my coworker was theoretical and read a lot of books on the subject where I read manual, technical specs, and understood the machine, yes I would say we had our difference of opinion. Slowly we understood that we had to collaborate by focusing on the goal and providing the facility a solution and stopped focusing on our differences."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Excellent response! I reworded your answer in places to help with the flow and clarity.

      "I had a coworker who worked differently from me, and we were both aware of our differences. My coworker was theoretical and read a lot of books on the subject, whereas I read manuals, technical specs, and understood the machine from my experience using it. Sometimes we had a difference of opinion because of our different sources of learning. Slowly we realized that to reach our shared goal of providing the facility with a solution, we had to stop focusing on our differences and start learning from each other and collaborating."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I enjoy working with individuals who have different mindsets than me. Once I was working with an individual who had very different ideas on how to approach a sales presentation. We collaborated and used both of our thoughts throughout the presentation. I am more of an analytical person, and he is more flashy. I wanted just to put the numbers and facts in the presentation while he wanted to put cool effects and designs on it. We added a little flash to the presentation and were able to secure the sale through the analytics."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Very interesting, and I like your positive approach to this question! It sounds as though this was a successful collaboration in the end.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I am someone that likes to have my work done ahead of schedule, I am very organized, and I like to keep my inbox completely clear except for the things that still require my attention. The co-worker that I had to work with was completely opposite, he missed deadlines all the time. I would setup calendar appointments with him to remind him a few days out and also talk to him about it in person to help keep him on track."

      Kristine's Answer

      Excellent response! You show adaptability and creativity when working with someone with a different work style. I revised your answers slightly for clarity.

      "I am someone that likes to have my work done ahead of schedule. I am very organized, and I want to keep my inbox completely clear except for the things that still require my attention. The co-worker that I had to work with was the opposite; he missed deadlines all the time. So, I would set up calendar appointments with him to remind him a few days out when there was a deadline approaching and also talk to him about it in person to help keep him on track."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "I worked with a boss once who would never ask a customer/s if they would be interested in using/buying a new product that we were considering selling. I tend to prefer to talk to customers. But she was very good at doing back-office work and getting others involved like warehouse managers, the purchasing dept, etc., so we agreed I'd talk to customers and give feedback to her while she did the admin side by sourcing and stocking the products."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This sounds like a perfect solution and collaboration. I have reworded slightly, to help with the flow.

      "I worked with a boss who was not great in a customer facing role but was good with the back office work and getting involved with warehouse managers, purchasing departments, and more. I am strong when it comes to talking to customers and gaining feedback on customer needs. For this reason, we agreed that I would work more on the customer-facing side and she would focus more on the admin, sourcing, and product stocking side."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "One small incident, We have a system at our work that after certain we mark with a sharpie on the dcn sticker that this test is done, I was testing all the modules first and mark them in the end. I know I have a picture in my mind that I have tested this module, on the other hand, my colleagues he finishes one test and put marks right after that, so that makes me realize later that it has better efficiency and chance of error is minimal compared to the work I am performing."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This is a great example of how you looked at someone else's method and learned from it. Well done!

      "In my current job, we have a system where we mark, with a sharpie, on the DCN sticker once the test is done. I was testing the modules and then marking the stickers at the end. My colleague was marking the stickers right after testing each. I realized that his method was more efficient and offered a smaller margin for error. So, I adapted his method."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "Currently when I am lead for a social community at my department and I working with three other colleagues in this group where our purpose is to arrange different social activities. One of these colleagues in this group she is really direct where she does not are afraid question things and processes and she can take some small initiatives without asking such as this other day she did a PowerPoint filled with information about a proposal for the managers which will approve our financial resources to a trip we are planning for the community. In the beginning I was kind of chocking of the working style she has, and it could bring some discussions between us about some things, but now I learned how she acts and talks and then I have learned how to manage her in a proper way and she has learned to still be humble and understanding with us other who has not the same working style as her. By working with an individual which has a different working style has just developed me and made me more flexible and open-minded to different work environments."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It's important to be more concise, leaving out certain details that are not required for your answer to be complete.

      "I am the lead for the social committee at work, along with three other colleagues. One of the members of the group was quite aggressive at first, taking the lead on most of the work and completing things at a much faster pace than necessary. At first, I was put off by their behavior; however, I learned to enjoy what a go-getter this person was. They did turn things down a notch, and we all learned how to work quite well together."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "When I was second to a specialist role with another co-worker, we were in the project of preparing and facilitating training for our new temporary staff. I noted that I had a different style than her that I prefer to using more visual elements to present the key process, leaving the details for the trainee to learn through on the job training. While my coworker preferred a lengthy and detail approach for training. I suggested a nice talk over coffee to work out the best way of collaboration that we re-schedule our training contents that we utilize our different training styles that satisfy the needs of the trainee."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Nice reply! The interviewer will appreciate that you are very self-aware and willing to work with others who are different from you.

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