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Have you ever experienced conflict with a boss or professor? How was it resolved?

1 of 30 Tough Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on January 25th, 2019 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
How to Answer

Employers want to know that you are respectful of your leaders. While you do not always have to agree with your leader, the interviewer wants to see that you respond to them with kindness and respect.

Talk about a time when your boss made a choice to which you did not agree. Explain how you responded. The key to successfully answering this question is to impress upon the interviewer that you are a respectful employee who treats others with dignity and kindness. If you are newer to your career, you can draw from a post-secondary example (Perhaps you had a conflict with a professor).

Professional Answer Examples
Answer example

"I had a conflict with a manager earlier in my career. One of our team members skipped out on work six times in one month, and I was always asked to cover their shift last minute. I was frustrated and could not understand why my manager wasn't just terminating the employee. I reacted hastily, and the manager patiently reminded me that he had his reasons. He explained that he asked me to cover the shifts because he liked me and I was reliable. It turns out the absent employee had serious health concerns, and our manager was trying to be empathetic without disclosing the situation to our team. I felt terrible and learned that sometimes things aren't always as they seem. I apologized, and all was well."

Answer example

"There are times when I have asked questions or brought up suggestions that challenged a boss or coworker. We resolved the matter with humility and the intent to resolve the problem while better understanding the opposing viewpoint."

Answer example

"One of my first bosses was very hard to get along with as his expectations were often unreasonable and would come with little explanation. I stayed with him for about two years and left when I knew I was no longer benefitting from his leadership. I did keep my head down for the most part, but the benefit came to me at a later time, when I took on my first management role. I knew what I did not want to be like and thus, the experience helped to shape my management style."

Answer example

"I had a boss that was incredibly skilled at his job but was overly direct. He led with tough love, and while that worked for him and some people, it did not go well with the graphic designer on our team. I tried to stick up for her and let him know that while his heart was in the right place, his approach wasn't effective and was hurting her productivity. At first, it was a conflict because he felt insulted that I was questioning his management, but finally, we were able to come to an understanding, and he considered a new approach for her and the employees in general. I was happy that I stood up for her in a tactful way and the department was better off as a result."

Answer example

"One of my first mentors shared with me a nugget of knowledge: if you're comfortable, you're not growing. So, I try to seek out opportunities for small discomfort whenever possible. I keep a running list of things that I have identified as areas for improvement in the department and bring them up tactfully with my boss. When I lay out the reasons for the upgrades, she lets me tackle the issue. Occasionally she pulls rank and says no, and though it's frustrating, I know that she must know more than I do, so I bite my tongue and put my head down and get back to work."

Answer example

"I have disagreed on many occasions with professors or bosses, but there have only been a few times where it has come to a head. One instance that comes to mind was regarding the distribution of my accounts when I was transitioning to another role. My boss had a plan that conflicted with the recommendations, which was a problem because I know some of my accounts specifically disliked those account managers. I laid out the reasons why I was upset and frustrated with the decisions he was making. He explained why he was making them, and in the end, we identified three accounts that could be switched around so that everyone was happy and the branch didn't lose any business."

Answer example

"I have experienced conflict with the student of a parent recently, which was quite unnerving. The parent misunderstood the grade that their child came home with and came down hard on me via email, and then by calling my Principal the following day. I called the parent immediately, asking for a face to face meeting. Once we met in person and I was able to walk the parent through the project, and expectations, they realized their child did indeed breeze over a lot of the work. A face to face meeting made all of the difference in that situation."

Bank Compliance Officer
Answer example

"I once worked with a supervisor who did not provide any timeline for the projects he assigned to me, yet became extremely agitated when I did not deliver within a few hours. As I had no idea he had such timelines in mind, I requested a meeting with him to tell him about my concerns and that I can absolutely adjust to tight deadlines, however I require prior adequate notice so that I can organize my days accordingly and delegate other duties if necessary. I also told him I cannot anticipate he would want something done right away upon receipt. He told me he did not realize he had provided unclear instructions and promised to be more clear in the future, which he were."

Answer example

"My most recent supervisor and I had a strong work relationship and she will be willing to give you a strong reference on my behalf. We did not run into any difficulty while working together."

Autopsy Assistant
Answer example

"In my career, I have had many different supervisors with different leadership styles. I did have one supervisor in the past that was new to being a supervisor. We may not have seen see eye to eye on everything but because of those differences we challenged each other and worked really well together."

Medical Transcriptionist
Answer example

"When I was in college, someone in my class stole a copy of a final exam before it was given and distributed copies to others in the class. The instructor found out said that, unless the person who stole the test came forward, the whole class would be given an 'F' for their grades. I had been approached by someone with a copy of the test and I privately told the instructor that I knew who had taken the exam. The instructor was kind enough to keep our conversation private and made a new test to be administered. I didn't want to be involved in the frustration of the situation, but I also didn't want innocent students to receive failing grades because of someone else's bad decision."

Attendance Clerk
Answer example

"I avoid conflicts with my team members as I believe in clear communication whenever any issues are present. There is no reason to have tension in the workplace if you are honest, transparent and an effective communicator."

Training Specialist
Answer example

"As a trainer and a professional, I have found the best way to manage conflict is to approach it with humility and the intent to resolve the issue. Conflict and pain points are always opportunities to learn, grow and develop something stronger. It is rare, but there are times when I do not agree with my supervisor and I take the initiative to share my perspective and reach common ground. A relationship with mutual respect makes this easy to do well."

Clinical Laboratory Technician
Answer example

"I would describe my personality as approachable, light-hearted, and positive. I like to give more than I take and pride myself on being part of a team."

Bacteriology Technician
Answer example

"In my career, I have had many different supervisors with an array of personalities. I did have one supervisor in the past who was not the type of leader that I would have chosen for myself. We disagreed on occasion but nothing severe enough to affect my work performance."

Answer example

"I had a Manager who was rude to everyone. She would lay down what she thought was right and if you disagreed with her, you became the enemy and your schedule reflected it. I once suggested an improvement to scheduling to her and the general manager. While they considered it, my schedule went from day shifts to night shifts and double shifts for the next two weeks. I showed up to every shift with a smile and worked my butt off. My general manager noticed and assigned me as the restaurant's schedule maker. I still worked double shifts when necessary, but I tried to be as fair as possible."

Behavioral Health Technician
Answer example

"I had a manager who I didn't see eye to eye with so I scheduled a meeting with him to see how we could work better together. After our meeting, ​we realized that it was just a miscommunication and we soon developed a great professional working relationship."

Warehouse Clerk
Answer example

"In my current clerk role I am to place orders with four different vendors every Tuesday before 5 PM. It's important that I track our levels very carefully to avoid overordering since my company runs very lean. I have reminders on my computer to ask vendors about upcoming discounts or bulk-purchase opportunities. When you call my references, they will attest to the fact that I am always meticulous in my ordering and have solid relationships with each vendor."

Written by:

Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career. Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise. Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
Ryan Brown
Ryan Brown, is the creator of MockQuestions. He has over ten years experience creating interview questions. His website has helped over 10 million job seekers in their interview preparation.
First written on: 06/29/2018
Last modified on: 01/25/2019

More Interview Questions

View user-submitted Answers

Have you ever experienced conflict with a boss or professor? How was it resolved?
Conflicts will rise I view them as a learning experience and choice of words as we, l as approach.
I've always been fairly easy to get along with. And don't often find conflict.
I have not had a conflict with a boss.
At that time I try to calm down and I will do my work properly. I will take my work as a challenge. I will do extra work. I will make boss happy.
Yes I have. I told them how I felt in a firm yet respectable manner, and asked how can we find common ground.
I honestly have never had a conflict with a boss or professor because I tend to get along with everyone.
Yes, I had a conflict with my ultrasound instructor one time and I was feeling very stressed and having a difficult time with balancing work, school and studying. I felt like my teacher was taking it out on me and taking it personally if I missed a question. I finally confronted her and communicated my thoughts with her. To my surprise my teacher admitted I was right about her.
No I did not face such surcometance.
Yes. It was resolved through dialogue.
Yes, we sat down and exchanged expectations both ways. It worked out well.
I cant say that ive ever had a conflict.
I don't know that I have an example of a conflict that I have had. But I know that if one were to arise, the key to solving it is communication. If two people can talk through a situation, and come to an agreement, that will create the best possible outcome.
No I haven't. But if a case arises where I have to say or point out something, I will in an appropriate manner still respecting my superiors.
Yes there was a huge conflict between me and my teacher, once she stoped me in the middle of the school play ground and asked me to pull my skirt up beacause it was so chabby and I thought that it was a style... Hmm I understood her later when a grew up ...
Yes with my previous boss. I just came out with multiple solutions for the current problem and ended the conflict.
Since we all do not think exactly alike, conflict will occur, I seek to understand that person understanding of the topic and determine if I have overlooked an issue. I would perform the task based upon my supervisor knowledge.
With a boss, no I have not. I have respect for my bosses and recognize they are above me for a reason and I want to learn from them. I generally get along with most people but I did have an experience a couple of years ago with someone I worked with. I asked if we could chat privately and we discussed the problem in a calm way which I believe helped our working relationship and friendship and was much stronger as we developed a new to communicate and had more respect for one another.
I have had a difference of opinions yes. I explained my reason for the difference of opinion but the bottom line is they were the boss so their was is the final say.
Scheduling. I had to explain due to doctors' appointments and/or important meetings.
Communication is the key to any conflict resolution so I strive to maintain a positive attitude and understanding as to the situation at hand.
Early in my career, I got a job performance review with some comments that I disagreed with. I actively listened to my boss as she went over the review with me, and asked her for some time to consider her input before setting up a follow up meeting. It was resolved by taking that time to digest her perspective and my own, and then calmly talk about how my thoughts, and ask her how I could improve in the future. I ultimately realized that she was interested in my being successful, rather than being critical. In other words it was constructive criticism which I came to appreciate.
Thankfully until the day of today I haven't encounter any conflict with any of my previous employers or professor. I always try to stay in track, do my work, finish my task before deadlines and always going above and beyond in everything I do.
I will done my best in work. I done my work properly.
I do not remember any such conflict by saying so, I am not trying to prove myself that I am very nice person, everyone has the way of thinking to resolve the issue there may be some differentiation.
Yes, I refer to the policy and regulation.
I've had a conflict with a professor, and we talked it out .
I don't think I have had a issue with any boss or professor, I am a nice girl. But If I ever do have a conflict I would talk to the person in charge to resolve the issue.
No I have never had conflicts with boss or professor.
I had a conflict with a boss who didn't keep the records everyone in the department was supposed to maintain about their work productivity. He told me all of the different reasons he would not be able to give me the data. Then he dumped it on my desk on his way out of the office.
I have never had an issue with a boss or a professor. The biggest conflict I have ever had with a manager was an occasion where a client was disrespcted by a salesman, and my manager refused to acknowledge the clients concerns and immediatley sided with the salesman. At that point I felt disappointed that my manager had disrespcted a client who had a legitimate complaint. Though I did not intervene in the situation, as it wasn't my place to, I felt some inner conflict about the situation.
Only if I think I am right I will question it but if it turns out I was wrong I would always say I am sorry.
Yes. It was resolved by understanding his views and the importance of the issue. As a professional the conflict with the boss should be settled through talks and amendments.
Working, basically getting caught up in my work and not taking enough breaks.
Not Conflict but difference of Opinion about working style.
Yes, we went for a coffee and talked out our diffrences and it was the best thing to do.
I generally don't have issues in this area due to my ability to understand the demands of task and the circumstances involved. I find becoming as cooperative as possible usually helps me to improve on the working relation required.
Once my teacher gave me a mark that I didnt feel was right so we went over my report and she gave me a higher mark.
Yes, communicating with boss in a calm and respectful manner.
Yes, when my manager didn't want to believe that we had a problem with meeting our requirements and cost targets.
I have not had a conflict, but if I had conflict, I would be calm, and understand his view first then I would explain what my opposing arguments are.
Presented my side listened to him.
I have had a conflict with my boss regarding new business and that in my area and surrounding areas this was becoming a bit of an issue. It was resolved by having my boss come work with me and go to potential new business so he could see the obstacles - not that there is none, just not as affluent in this area as others.
I had conflicts with my supervisor everyday. But that would be a healthy one.
I never experienced or come across such a problem but if I did I would apologize or avoid it from happening.
I was absent for a test due to sickness and my parents didn't call the school to confirm the absence. So I told my teacher to call my parents and ask them so that I can write the test.
No. Being that I have only recently turned 16 years old, I have never worked a real job before. This will be my first real job.
Never had a personal conflict.
Yes, open door policy. Thru communication.
I would say a conflict I would say a difference in opinion or direction of work flow. At one point and time the Administrative Office processed and handle all Acquisitions Orders . During the reorg the decided to have and Acquisitions Group and removed all acquisitions for the Admin Office. Speaking with my boss they wanted to bring acquistion back down to the Administrative Office. With a skeletal crew meaning we did not have enough staff to take had the work load coming in. Even though the team had one on one with the boss. It was never resolved the issue still remains the same.
Yes . My boss rita, was a result oriented person. I was still learning the telling job and I used to make mistakes. She would come and ask me to rectify errors immediately and at first I didnt like it but as time went on, I learnt process and my error reduced and my boss became my friend.
Yes. My boss had a friendship with one of the reps on our team. And when the rep would do something out of line it was my job to discipline. My boss never agreed with my resolution. So we had a one on one meeting and I pulled up several reports showing how it affected the team as a whole and she sided with me.
Yeah once I was handled in my previous company .... There were started one prob with se niour developer and testing team.. And I just clarified with all, y its happened.
We talk it out and work it out.
Never a conflict we have had differing ideas on how to do something.
Yes, But since he the professor and as a student I should sorry and obey what should be done.
To be honest, I've never had a conflict with any of my bosses.
I have had a professor to refuse to grade my paper due to turning it in 15 mins late, but I was able to resolve the issue by simply communicating my reason for being late and ensuring that it would not happen it again.
Lab manager - started position at lab which she had been running for 30 years. Realized lab was not as organized as I would've liked, approached supervisor and suggested a reorganization of space and with her support I cleaned and organized entire lab. Allowed everyone to be more efficient and kept cleanlier lab appearance for random EPA inspections.
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