MockQuestions

Conflict Interview Questions

To help you prepare for your next job interview, here are 15 interview questions and answer examples focused on how you handle conflict in the workplace.

Conflict was written by and published on September 5th, 2021. Learn more here.

Question 1 of 15

Talk about a time when you had to work closely with someone who had a problematic personality.

How to Answer

The interviewer wants to know how well you work with others despite a difference in personality. Your ability to adapt to various people, regardless of a positive personality match, shows that you are mature and professional even when factors are not entirely ideal.



Behavioral-based interview questions that begin with 'Talk about a time when...' 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.



Avoid extreme responses that include speaking negatively of others or naming people. Also, avoid telling the interviewer that you get along with everyone all the time. Most interviewers will interpret a cliche response like that as dodging the question.



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



Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

Next Question

15 Conflict Interview Questions & Answers

  • 1. Talk about a time when you had to work closely with someone who had a problematic personality.

      How to Answer

      The interviewer wants to know how well you work with others despite a difference in personality. Your ability to adapt to various people, regardless of a positive personality match, shows that you are mature and professional even when factors are not entirely ideal.



      Behavioral-based interview questions that begin with 'Talk about a time when...' 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.



      Avoid extreme responses that include speaking negatively of others or naming people. Also, avoid telling the interviewer that you get along with everyone all the time. Most interviewers will interpret a cliche response like that as dodging the question.



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



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

      1st Answer Example

      "(Situation) In my previous job, I had a team member who would scoff at other co-workers' ideas in meetings. (Task) As the Marketing Manager, I knew I could not let this behavior continue. (Action) The HR Partner and I approached this person to discuss our company culture and how his behavior disrupted the environment. We wanted to create a resolution with this person. (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 met the needs of our team by protecting the positive culture we had worked so hard to create."

      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

      Community Answer

      "I once was the relationship manager for a business partner who took a "new age" approach to running his business. My task was to partner with him to fix significant problems in the profitability of the partnership. Coming from a STEM background, my approach was data-driven, deep-diving into metrics, contextualising the results, and proposing measurable actions that would move the metrics. On the other hand, he believed that positive thoughts changed future outcomes - the exact opposite of my approach. But since his business is primarily a sales-driven business, positive thinking was very important to his business model and company culture. It was up to me to bridge the gap. I took the approach of beginning my conversations with the positive outcomes that I had found in my data analysis, particularly those that were caused by measurable actions. Then the important part was to be flexible and to link my recommendations to his beliefs - to say that if you're not doing something consistent with your beliefs then you don't believe it enough. That relationship management job taught me so much about people. And we eventually built mutual respect that helped us work together to fix the profitability issues."

      Written by an Anonymous User

      Marcie Wilmot

      Our Professional Interview Coach
      Marcie Wilmot Reviewed the Above Answer

      Excellent answer. You have perfectly described how you managed to overcome a dramatic difference in perspectives. As you said, you were able to 'bridge the gap.' Your response also shows that you're able to successfully work with people who are very different from you. Awesome!

  • 2. Talk about a time when you worked on a team, and other group members were not performing their share of the work. How did you react?

      How to Answer

      Interviewers look for a candidate that works harder around underperformers rather than becoming defeated and giving in to an attitude of inaction. Show the interviewer that you have excellent leadership abilities by discussing how you redistribute the workload when a team member is not pulling their weight.



      Behavioral-based interview questions that begin with 'Talk about a time when...' 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.



      Perhaps you were able to step in and reallocate the work among your team members. Maybe you took on the extra workload yourself. Avoid speaking negatively about anyone and keep your answer focused on the solution you created and the positive outcome of your actions.



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

      1st Answer Example

      "(Situation) In my current sales role, one of my teammates is always looking for the easy way out. (Task) As a competitive person, this bothers me because I want our team to be in the lead for all sales categories. (Action) I recently addressed the situation with him directly and in private. I explained how his inaction was impacting the group and affecting our sales results. Still, he goes through the motions, avoids his cold-calling responsibilities, and provides vague or incomplete client documentation in the CRM. After approaching the Sales Manager with my concerns, the issue has not yet improved. Now, I've decided that I can only control my actions. I give an extra 25% output for all cold calls, documentation, and prospecting activities. (Result) So far, my increased output has compensated for my co-workers' lower metrics. The added benefit to working even harder is that my sales numbers have increased, showing my leadership team that I am a top performer. My commission percentages have increased as well, which is a welcome benefit!"

      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

      Community Answer

      "I was leading a hackathon team of ten people, but only 3 of us were doing any work. There was a lot of work to do to meet the deadline. We were all volunteers, so it wasn’t like I could force them to contribute. But what I could do is give them the benefit of the doubt. So I contacted them privately and asked if they could help with a specific task. Some responded positively because they hadn’t known how to contribute. Others said they didn’t have the skills and they’d joined the team to observe and learn. Some others apologized because work pressures prevented them from contributing."

      Written by an Anonymous User

      Marcie Wilmot

      Our Professional Interview Coach
      Marcie Wilmot Reviewed the Above Answer

      Perfect. Reaching out privately to each person was a smart way to handle the issue. It sounds like you got mixed results but at least were then able to know where each person stood and who you could count on to contribute or not. What was the end result? Did your team ultimately finish its work? Great response!

  • 3. Discuss a time when you disagreed with your boss. How did you find common ground?

      How to Answer

      Finding common ground with your boss, despite disagreeing with them, shows the interviewer that your desire to collaborate is stronger than your need to be correct. Overcoming disagreements with your boss also highlights your ability to problem-solve while facing a difference of opinion.



      Even though you may have a great relationship with your boss, there might be times where you don't see eye to eye. Think of a conflict or disagreement you had with your boss where you responded professionally and worked toward a solution.



      When asked a 'Discuss a time when...' question, it's important to remember that the interviewer is looking for a specific story-based example that highlights your behavior in challenging situations. Using the STAR interview method (an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result), you can form an easy-to-follow and engaging story-based response.



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

      1st Answer Example

      "(Situation) Last year, my Sales Director and I disagreed on the pending termination of one of my sales team members. (Task) As a Sales Manager, my philosophy is to ensure that I have trained and coached my team members to the best of my ability before I ever consider terminating them. (Action) I expressed my desire to the Sales Director to spend additional time training this team member. I mentioned that it would be more expensive to replace this person than invest in additional training. The Sales Director finally agreed that if the team member 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 training this team member 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. Despite having a difference of opinion, I chose to present my argument with facts rather than emotion. I believe this approach is why the Sales Director agreed to come to a compromise."

      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

      Community Answer

      "I had started running a project with a bank, but many of the staff were being disrespectful and rude, demanding that we do everything for them and add product capabilities before they would use it. Our CEO told me to always agree with them and promise to give them everything they asked for. He believed that amazing service and product would win their respect. While that approach made sense in the USA, Asian business culture works differently. I took the time to explain this to him, but he disagreed. with my recommendations I could see that we weren’t going to agree. So I agreed to disagree but to follow his instructions because it was his company and he was the boss. Sometimes his approach helped, but a year later he privately told me that I had been correct and that he wished he had listened to me."

      Written by an Anonymous User

      Marcie Wilmot

      Our Professional Interview Coach
      Marcie Wilmot Reviewed the Above Answer

      So it sounds like you voiced your concerns but then eventually backed down and went with what he thought was best because he was the boss. You didn't really find a common ground with him, but it's clear why you acted the way you did. You expressed your concerns but also respected his position. If there's another example you can use that shows how you compromised, that might be better, but, if not, this is still a strong example especially given how you explain it. Good job!

  • 4. Talk about a time you faced a conflict in the workplace and reacted poorly.

      How to Answer

      Most people cannot handle every conflict with the utmost grace and poise. No matter who you are, there is undoubtedly a work-related situation that makes you cringe a bit when you look back. What's most important is not how the issue went down but what you learned from the experience.



      Behavioral-based interview questions that begin with 'Talk 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.



      Your story-based example should not be too weighty but have enough impact to show the interviewer that you can bounce back from a misstep in the workplace. Avoid instances where you were the one that caused the conflict, include a display of immaturity, or make it seem like you have a temper. Focus the bulk of your response on what you would do differently today and what you learned from the situation. Assure the interviewer that you are now better equipped to handle conflict in the workplace.



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

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  • 5. Talk about a time you faced a conflict in the workplace and reacted constructively.

      How to Answer

      It can be very challenging to face a conflict and react calmly and professionally. Fight or flight; it's human nature to become defensive in the face of conflict or to 'sweep it under the rug' pretending the situation doesn't exist. The interviewer would like evidence that you are a professional who can face conflict in the workplace and maintain a level of professionalism, allowing you to find a solution without worsening or ignoring the situation.



      Behavioral-based interview questions that begin with 'Talk 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.



      Avoid examples where you were the one that caused the conflict. Focus the bulk of your response on how you approached a solution rather than dwelling on the problem. Assure the interviewer that you are a well-equipped professional to handle conflict and promptly problem-solve.



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

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  • 6. Talk about a time you encountered a conflict with a customer.

      How to Answer

      Customer-related conflict can be a common occurrence, especially if you work in a service-based role in sales or a retail environment. The interviewer wants to know that you can handle stressful or uncomfortable situations with a client and focus on problem-solving.



      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.



      Briefly describe a time when you resolved a customer-related conflict. Highlight your ability to remain patient and rational. Avoid examples where you were the one that caused the conflict. Focus the bulk of your response on how you approached a solution rather than dwelling on the problem. Assure the interviewer that you are a professional who is well-equipped to problem-solve in a customer-facing environment.



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

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  • 7. How do you communicate with people who intimidate you?

      How to Answer

      Most of us have found ourselves in a situation where we find a co-worker, classmate, or even professor a touch intimidating. When we feel intimidated by someone, the conflict is often internal vs. external. Feeling intimidated can make us feel threatened, even if it's unintentional. This internal conflict can lead to a fight response such as arguing or flight response, such as losing words or experiencing a mental block.



      The interviewer wants to see that you have the ability and maturity to recognize when feelings of intimidation occur. Discuss what you do, or have done, when facing feelings of intimidation.



      Since the interviewer asks, 'How would you...' it is acceptable to use a hypothetical example, giving an overview of how you would react in this situation. However, if you want to use a real-life example, try forming a response using the STAR method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result.



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

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  • 8. Have you ever intentionally or unintentionally offended someone in the workplace?

      How to Answer

      Saying something unintentionally offensive at work is a terrible feeling and an act that can be very challenging to repair. Your approach to this question should include honesty and a significant focus on the positive action you took once you realized your error. Show the interviewer that you are accountable for your actions, and you take the time to repair workplace relationships when necessary.



      Although the question asks if you have ever offended someone intentionally or unintentionally, it's best to avoid giving an example of a time when you chose to offend someone. As you know, this approach could show poor character.



      When responding to a behavioral or scenario-based question like this, it's best to give a specific example rather than responding with a generalization. Try forming a story-based response using the STAR method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result.



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

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  • 9. Would you ever confront an equity problem in the workplace?

      How to Answer

      There are a range of equity problems that you might face in the workplace. Equity refers to equal access and opportunities for everyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, language, physical abilities, and many other characteristics. The interviewer wants to know how you approach equity problems and what you would do if you witnessed a lack of equity in the workplace. Show that you are conscious of equity and that you realize the difference between equity and equality.



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

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  • 10. How do you feel about a chain of command in the workplace?

      How to Answer

      Most businesses to maintain organizational effectiveness require a precise distribution of leadership, responsibilities, and accountabilities. Understanding the importance of hierarchy in the workplace shows maturity and an understanding of how most companies operate. The way you answer this question will show your willingness to be a good team player who respects the organizational makeup of the company and avoids creating unnecessary conflict with your leaders.



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

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  • 11. Talk about a time when you felt conflicted in the workplace.

      How to Answer

      Conflict in the workplace can be internal, external, or a blend of both. When facing conflict in the workplace, some individuals may become shy and unwilling to speak up for themselves or ask for what they need. This natural flight response is one that many people feel when facing conflict. There is also a natural fight response, causing some individuals to become defensive and combative when conflict arises. Then, some individuals address a conflicting situation professionally and swiftly, preventing the problem from escalating.



      Since the question asks you to 'Talk about a time when...' the interviewer wants a real-life example of when you felt conflicted in the workplace. You can form a story-based response using the STAR method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result.



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

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  • 12. How do you provide feedback to your team members without creating a conflict or hurting their feelings?

      How to Answer

      There is an art to giving feedback that doesn't hurt feelings or create unnecessary conflict. Helpful feedback requires being specific, making the input actionable, providing clear expectations, and giving a timeline for change. The interviewer would like to know that you are capable of the challenging task of giving feedback that is not combative or hurts the recipients' feelings.



      If applicable, discuss any formal training you have received on giving feedback or a book you have read on the topic. Perhaps you use a particular methodology that works every time! Share that approach with the interviewer and highlight that you are skilled in providing feedback in a way that doesn't offend others.



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

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  • 13. Have you, or would you ever, correct your boss?

      How to Answer

      Conflict can occur between yourself and a boss, especially if you don't see eye to eye on approaching a particular task or if your communication styles are not compatible. The interviewers want insight into how you would handle a situation where you felt the need to correct your boss' behavior.



      When responding to a question like this, it's best to give a specific story-based example rather than responding with a generalization. You can form your response using the STAR framework, an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result.



      If you have not experienced a situation like this in the past, you can speak hypothetically, being sure to address how you would handle a situation where you wanted to correct your boss.



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

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  • 14. Are you verbally direct with others? If so, has this ever created a conflict with a co-worker?

      How to Answer

      If you are a direct individual, you can be honest and to the point without hurting feelings or creating a conflict between yourself and others. Talk to the interviewer about when you were verbally direct with a co-worker, customer, or boss, ensuring they received the information needed in a straightforward manner.



      "Yes, I do consider myself to be direct with others. The most professional and respectful thing to do is to get to the point in a considerate way. I rarely sugarcoat a situation; however, I always intend to be kind in my delivery. One example of my being direct is when one of my employees delivers a report with errors. I will approach them and say, 'There are errors in your report. Are you able to fix these by the end of the day?' By doing so, I point out the issue while being transparent and direct on what the deadlines are for resubmission. On the flip side, if there is a concern with my work, I appreciate my boss approaching me promptly while outlining what needs repair."

      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

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  • 15. Walk me through a time when you helped resolve a workplace conflict between others.

      How to Answer

      The interviewer wants to know about your ability to handle conflict when placed in a mediator role. Show the interviewer that you are thoughtful in challenging conditions and can be the voice of reason for others when needed.



      When responding to a behavioral or scenario-based question like this, it's best to give a specific story-based example rather than responding with a generalization. You can form your response using the STAR framework, an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result.



      Suppose you don't have an example of when you helped resolve a workplace conflict between others. In that case, you can discuss the approach you would take to mediating the situation in a hypothetical way.



      Written by Rachelle Enns on September 5th, 2021

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