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Common Interview

| 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 disagreed with your boss.

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Common Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.

      Even though you may have a great relationship with your employer, there may be times where you don't see eye to eye. Think of a conflict or disagreement you had with your boss where you responded well, either by suggesting a compromise or taking a calm, relaxed stance when you could have answered in a heated tone.

      Getting along well with others puts you in a favorable position because it shows your desire to collaborate and highlights your ability to problem solve and produce excellent results, despite a challenging situation.

      When asked a 'Tell me about a time...' question, it's important to remember that the interviewer is looking for a specific story-based example that highlights your behavior in challenging situations. By using the STAR interview method (an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result), you can more easily form a story-based response.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "(Situation) A few months ago, the role of Administrative Lead came up in a different department. (Task) My boss and I disagreed about whether my assistant was right for promotion. I knew that I needed to support my case and support my recommendation for her promotion. (Action) He believed that she should remain in her current role, and I also knew she wasn't quite ready; however, I knew that we'd lose a valuable team member if she weren't given a new opportunity soon. I made a 30-day growth plan for her, along with milestones and regular check-ins. (Result) After the 30 days, my boss and I agreed to promote her since she responded very well to the additional coaching and met promotion requirements."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Admin interview

      "(Situation)My previous boss wanted to have a large hand in our social media marketing despite his lack of understanding of how it worked. He wanted to add complicated pricing and photo collages. (Task) As an experienced designer, I felt that a simple teaser and call to action was enough. (Action) After much discussion, we compromised, and each did it our way for one week. We then collected the insights related to customer engagement on each. (Result)I was correct in my stance. After that, he allowed me to manage our social media independently."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Manager interview

      "(Situation) Some time ago, I had a boss that regularly forced overtime on employees at the last minute. (Task) I was the Assistant Manager at the time and could quickly see team morale sinking. (Action) I spoke with him at length about team morale. I approached the conversation with data and facts, rather than emotion. (Result) He agreed to start giving the overtime notice sooner, making everyone's lives easier."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Marketing interview

      "(Situation) In a previous role, my supervisor believed that the company did not need to invest time or money into growing an email distribution list. (Task) As a skilled Marketing Manager, I strongly disagreed. (Action) I approached the topic gingerly and used hard numbers from case studies and tied them to the company's business goals. By removing emotion from the equation and focusing strictly on data and analytics, I was able to lay my stance out in a way that would be hard to dispute or elicit an emotional response. (Result) Ultimately, my supervisor gave the green light for piloting the program, and it was a great success. I built an email list of over 10,000 contacts, and our conversion rate increased by nearly 25%."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Retail interview

      "(Situation) One situation that stands out was a disagreement with my boss at Company ABC over the distribution of tasks among the two store shifts. (Task) I was the Floor Manager, and I could see that my night shift team was struggling to keep up with expectations. (Action) I asked my boss for a private meeting to discuss her approach, and I provided examples of how her methods seemed to be hurting the night shift team morale. (Result) At first, my boss was not thrilled since the conversation questioned her authority and knowledge of the team. However, after explaining how it was impacting team morale, productivity, and ultimately - my influence as a leader, she agreed to try my leadership approach. In the end, we were able to disperse tasks evenly among day and night shifts, while maximizing productivity and increasing store sales."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Sales interview

      "(Situation) Last year, my Sales Director and I disagreed on the pending termination of one of my sales employees. (Task) As a Sales Manager, my philosophy is to train and coach before terminating. (Action) I expressed my desire to spend additional time training this employee. I presented the fact that it would be more expensive to replace this person than to re-train. The Director and I agreed that if this person missed their targets for another 30 days, we would move forward with termination. After coming to a middle ground, I created a plan to spend five additional hours per week with this individual for three weeks. (Result) Remarkably, his performance improved by over 40%! This sales rep is still with us and often lands on the company's 'Top 10' list for sales performance."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Teacher interview

      "(Situation) Last semester my Department Lead and I did not see eye to eye on a curriculum change. (Task) I am the Learning Leader, and we collaborate regularly. I have worked carefully to develop a good rapport with her, so I needed to approach the discussion with diplomacy. (Action) In this situation, I created a short presentation with stats and facts to support my opinion. (Result) Although she did not agree with my points, I did learn that it's okay to disagree as long as the conversation remains respectful. As a result, we have become more innovative and thoughtful with the policies, curriculum, and lessons we implement."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Auto Mechanic interview

      "The owner of my shop and I disagreed on the pending termination of one of my employees a short time ago. I wanted to spend time training him a bit more after he missed a few important repairs on customer vehicles. My boss wanted to terminate him immediately. I presented to my him that it would be more expensive to replace him than to re-train. He agreed, and we came to a middle ground."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Pastry Chef interview

      "My last boss and I had a great relationship, but we often disagreed about the holiday and season-specific menu items that we would have readily available in the case. I was around on the day to day and saw what sold and what didn't. He liked to keep to tradition and offer items the bakery had been selling for years and years. I always fought for what our customers would buy and regularly ask about. Ultimately, I suggested that we cut two items from our traditional holiday offerings in order to have more room in the case and produce more of our best sellers. I was able to show him the numbers of some of our top sellers; I knew he would be interested in the money side of things. He agreed to the plan and since then, all of our big holiday months have seen better sales!"

      Ryan's Answer
       for a Event Planner interview

      "Working on a budget for an event, I shared it with my boss to get his approval. He wanted to go with a vendor who did flowers for us in the past because they were cheaper. I explained my experience with them, but my boss insisted we use them. I asked if I could take a couple of hours to get bids from a few other florists before we made a decision and he agreed that was a good idea. I ended up finding a better florist with a solid reputation who gave us a great product and we stayed within our budget."

      Heather's Answer
       for a Medical Receptionist interview

      "One of the physicians and I disagreed on the way patients should be scheduled. I wanted to spend time training him a bit more. My director wanted to terminate him immediately. I presented to my director that it would be more expensive to replace him than to re-train. He agreed and we came to a middle ground."

      William's Answer
       for a Information Security Analyst interview

      "It is not often that my management team and I have disagreements, but it does happen. In my most recent role, there was a situation involving my recommendation to upgrade the security of our network. Management felt that it was too expensive, and the predicted results could not be cost-justified. I knew I had to convince them to do the upgrade, or our network would be at risk. I collected information about similar threats to other networks and the costs of resolving issues caused by attacks on the network. It became obvious that it would be easier to implement my suggestions than to remediate the situation after an attack occurred. Management agreed with my suggestion, and we implemented the upgrade in less time and at a lower cost than I had originally predicted. To my knowledge, the network has never suffered an attack due to this solution."

      Christina's Answer
       for a Writer interview

      "I recently read that the average company spends $200-$350 per day on social media advertising. That is a budget that adds up quickly, especially if there is little to no return. I make sure that my work generates conversions by first getting ideas from the audience or my employers' customers. When I know for a fact that I am writing about a topic that is interesting to them, I know it will convert. Second, I make sure to educate the reader. When your audience learns something from you, they are much more likely to subscribe, return to your site, or share your content."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Wildlife Officer interview

      "When working as a/an (X position title) for (X company), (... X example of a conflicting situation with a superior). To resolve the situation in a timely fashion, I (... what you did to revolve the situation). I remained respectful and professional and in the end, the situation successfully resolved."

      Anonymous Answer

      "I had a sales call for a large customer that we were presenting a project for. The strategy behind the presentation was open for discussion to ensure we captured everybody's "must-haves" in the meeting. He had a certain way of wanting to present to the customer, and I had mine. Ultimately it let to sitting down with our GM to ensure we asked all of the right questions, thought of all of the ways they could say no and in the end, came to an agreement."

      Rachelle's Answer

      You offer some great information; however, there are some gaps in what you offer the interviewer in terms of painting a full picture. Be sure to follow the STAR format for 'Tell me about a time' based questions. Following this framework will avoid this from happening.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "I had a conflict with my manager over vacation time. My parents were coming to visit from France, and I requested two days off to spend time with them. My coworker had recently gotten a month off to travel to Mexico. However, my manager refused to give me any time off. I was very disappointed and went to his office to discuss the issue with him privately. I managed to reach a compromise with him by assuring I would get all of my work done before I took time off. It was worth it, as I was able to reach my work obligations and visit my parents. My ability to get my work done on time also helped to rebuild trust with my manager. The situation taught me hard work and dedication do pay off eventually."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It's great that you came to a compromise with your boss, despite his original firm stance against time off. Your answer shows a lot of dedication.

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