How to answer interview questions about conflict

Being a great job candidate involves more than possessing qualifications and experience. Work often involves interacting with many stakeholders of differing opinions, so hiring managers often aim to know how you may approach conflict in the workplace. It is common for interviewers to ask questions that address your interpersonal skills and how your emotional intelligence might guide you in times of conflict. Your response will provide insight into your personality and will also indicate how likely you are to function well within a team.

In this article, we list common interview questions and answers about conflict and provide some points to remember when answering these questions in an interview.

How do you deal with conflict?

To answer this question successfully, assure your interviewer that you are a good listener who can accept opposing views without getting upset. You could also mention how conflict resolution should take place in a private space. Aim to provide an example if possible.

Example: “I actively readjust my attitude during a conflict situation. This means that I strive to listen to the other person’s point of view without becoming defensive. I also attempt to move the confrontation to a private space to avoid further complications.”

Can you recall a time of conflict with a coworker?

Behavioral questions require you to describe how you acted in a real-life situation. Prospective employers ask this type of question to learn more about your personality. Past behavior often indicates how you would react in comparable future situations, so be sure to provide an example you are proud of or to explain the lessons you took away from the experience. It is important to emphasize the resolution that took place, as opposed to dwelling on the conflict itself.

The STAR approach may prove helpful when answering this type of question. This acronym stands for:

  • Situation: Briefly explain the issue you were dealing with in a positive, constructive way.
  • Task: Describe your role in the situation.
  • Action: Discuss what you did to resolve or address the situation.
  • Result: Emphasize what you learned and how your actions had a positive outcome.

Example: “I was working as a project manager on an IT project, and one technician was constantly late finishing tasks. When I approached him about it, he reacted defensively. I kept calm and acknowledged that the deadlines were challenging and asked how I could assist him in improving his performance. He calmed down and told me that he was involved in another project where he had to do tasks that were not in his job description. After a meeting with the other project manager, we came to a resolution that alleviated the technician’s workload. For the remainder of the project, the technician delivered great work.”

Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss.

Although interviewers often like to hear that prospective employees are honest and have strong opinions, they nevertheless want new team members who respond well to authority.

It is advisable to remember the following when answering this question: First, avoid saying anything derogatory about a former manager, as your interviewer will likely interpret this as unprofessional behavior. Second, ensure that your answer demonstrates that you respect authority and are able to follow directions.

Example: “In some instances, I have felt it necessary to voice my opinion when I disagreed with a boss, and it has actually proven to be constructive. For instance, a previous manager’s unfriendly behavior had a negative influence on my work, and I started losing motivation and job satisfaction. Eventually I asked for a meeting and told him, in a calm and polite way, how I felt. To my surprise, he told me he was having difficulty in his personal life and was not coping well. After that, he made an effort to be less critical, and I was more understanding.”

How do you approach diversity in coworkers?

It is vital to celebrate diversity in the workplace. Most companies today feature a multi-cultural workforce that consists of people with different religions, political affiliations and beliefs, so an employee who accepts and aims to learn about differences in background is far more likely to make a great team member.

Example: “I love to inform myself about different cultures, opinions and perspectives. I deeply appreciate the beauty diversity brings to the world, and I am always seeking to learn more about how to inform myself about and support other communities.”

Methods for dealing with conflict situations

Employers are increasingly prioritizing applicants with emotional intelligence because employees with strong soft skills and interpersonal ability are more likely to work well as part of a team. It is advisable to remember the following emotionally intelligent habits when answering conflict interview questions:

Fostering relationships with colleagues

A “relationship” in this context does not necessarily mean friendship or closeness, but rather points to a mutual understanding in which members of a team agree upon roles and boundaries in the workplace. If you want to establish a professional relationship with a coworker, it can be beneficial to do so in a systematic way. You could call a meeting and discuss the following:

What role each person has and what their respective responsibilities are

Possible conflicts that may have taken place in the past, and how to best deal with issues going forward

Rules with regard to meetings and email etiquette

Communication is key

Many conflicts take place due to a lack of communication and understanding. For this reason, it is usually better to voice a difference in opinion immediately and in a civilized way, rather than allowing underlying resentment and anger to result in conflict.

Learn to listen to coworkers

There is a difference between hearing what coworkers are saying and employing focused listening. The latter involves listening with intent, as well as interpreting non-verbal clues such as body language. If you learn to listen to people more closely, you will respond in a more understanding way. Coworkers are also likely to notice that you’re more receptive, which might change the way they listen to you in return. In such a working environment, it is more likely that conflict will either not arise or that it will be settled in a calm way.

Act and react objectively in the workplace

Although it is common for individuals to act in an emotional and subjective way, you should always strive to be as objective as possible in the workplace. Attempt to focus on a coworker’s behavior, as opposed to concentrating on aspects of their personality.

Identify recurring conflict situations

If the same conflict repeatedly arises in the workplace, take steps to resolve the matter in an effective way. The best way to deal with such a situation is to identify the exact point of contention and calmly discuss possible resolutions.

During a job interview, you’ll be asked a series of tough questions to help the employer determine what kind of employee you are. Many of these questions can be challenging, and they can vary quite a bit between different industries. One of the most common categories of questions is about conflict. In this article, you can discover the most common interview questions about conflict resolution and how to properly respond when you are asked these tough interview questions.

Why do employers ask tough conflict-resolution interview questions?

No matter what kind of industry you enter, conflict is an inescapable part of any job. Whether it be with clients, customers or coworkers, conflicts will arise at some point and it has to be managed appropriately. Since management cannot be expected to oversee every single disagreement, it’s up to employees to take initiative and resolve the conflict themselves.

In learning how to answer conflict interview questions, you can demonstrate you’re willing to take on the burden of conflict resolution in the workplace. The employer doesn’t want to hire a person who won’t know what to do, so they ask how you might handle conflict with a colleague. By practicing good interview answers for dealing with conflict, you’ll demonstrate your skill and resolve as a productive employee.

Common conflict-resolution interview questions

Here are some of the most common interview questions about conflict:

How do you deal with conflict?

Typically, this question is to get an overall impression of your conflict-resolution skills, and it’s almost always followed up by questions pressing for more details. When answering, make sure you emphasize how de-escalation is your primary goal. When conflict gets out of hand, it can become incredibly disruptive to a workday, so avoiding that kind of disruption should be a top priority. Additionally, make sure you’re not conveying any body language or tone of voice that can be considered aggressive as you want to show you don’t harbor resentment.

Example: ‘When there’s conflict, I always start by privately discussing the issue with the person involved. By actively listening, I can understand their perspective, which in turn, makes it easier to come to a conclusion that everyone can be satisfied with. Part of coming up with that solution is working with the other person. I’ve found conflict resolution is most effective when approached as a team effort.’

How have you dealt with conflict with a coworker?

While it may be easy to think of an instance in which you had an issue with a coworker, it’s important to tread carefully when providing your answer. This question is designed to draw out behavioral traits, and you don’t want to present yourself as someone who is petty, angry or holding grudges. Additionally, you need to show your competence at problem-solving and conflict resolution, so make sure you pick an instance in which you and your coworker were able to come to a solution. Stay focused on the facts of the situation rather than blaming the other person for the problems. Don’t make excuses and don’t make accusations. Focus solely on the facts and the solution.

Example: ‘At my old job, I worked on a team with a man named Joe. Due to the nature of our work, we had to meet deadlines in order to have an efficient workflow. Unfortunately, Joe repeatedly missed deadlines, which compromised the efficiency of the entire system. I pulled Joe aside and discussed the problem with him. We found a way to reorganize our personal workflows that allowed him to meet deadlines better to maximize the system’s efficiency.’

Have you ever had to deal with an unhappy customer or client?

If the position you’re applying for involves interaction with customers or clients, conflict resolution takes on a whole new meaning. While you still have to be concerned with conflict among coworkers, conflict with customers and clients can also become an issue. As an employee, you’re effectively a company representative, and your potential employer is going to want to know how well you’re going to fulfill that role should an issue arise. Your answer here should reflect your willingness to keep customers and clients happy with their experience being the focus and ultimate end goal of your interaction.

Example: ‘I’ve had to deal with quite a few unhappy customers back in my retail days, but one instance that stands out was at my previous company. One of our clients ordered in bulk every two months or so, and they were one of our biggest sources of income at the time. Unfortunately, one order shipped with our product in the wrong color. They called to complain and were extremely dissatisfied obviously. I listened to them explain the situation on the phone and vent about the problem while simultaneously doing a few quick calculations on my end. I discovered that losing them as a client would be far more costly in the long run than sending them a new bulk order free of charge. With my calculations in hand, I cleared the idea with management and offered the new order at no cost plus 10% off their next order. They agreed and stayed on as a client.’

To always give the best answer when asked about conflict resolution during an interview, just remember the ultimate goal is always de-escalation and problem-solving. Being prepared to answer conflict interview questions can be the difference between you and other applicants, so do your best to stay competitive. Keep in mind you can ask for a brief moment to think of an answer to any question. A moment of silence followed by a thoughtful answer is always better than a jumbled insufficient answer given immediately.

By DANIEL BORTZ – contributor

There are different types of conflict at work, but your reactions should always showcase a diplomatic approach.

No one likes conflict, especially at work. But disagreements between co-workers are inevitable—and showing prospective employers that you’re well versed in conflict resolution is crucial. Will you add to the melee or can you step back and remain levelheaded?

Obviously, not everything in your career is going to be easy, whether that means confronting the person who stole your lunch from the office refrigerator to negotiating a new contract with clients to deliberating a new job offer. In an environment that’s diverse as the modern workplace there are going to be differences of opinion and behavior. Employers need to be sure you can get along well with others.

Conflict resolution is just one of the many hurdles the workplace will present to you. Here are five common questions hiring managers ask to assess your conflict-resolution skills and the best approach to answering them.

QUESTION 1: How do you deal with conflict?
People aren’t going to get along with each other all the time. It’s just a fact. Employers want to know that you can respond to conflict diplomatically. If you’re a my-way-or-the-highway type of personality, you’re not going to get very far in the interview.

Start off by emphasizing communication and respectfulness as a means to conflict resolution. For example, “I always take the person aside and discuss the issue privately. I listen actively to make sure I understand the other person’s point of view, and I work with the person to develop a solution together.” Stress that even if you both don’t completely agree on the end result, you tried to at least meet each other halfway.

QUESTION 2: Tell me about a time when you had an issue with a co-worker
This a behavioral interview question—meaning you should take it as an opportunity to share a success story about how you resolved an issue with a co-worker in the past. You want to make sure to choose an incident where you and your co-worker were able to resolve the issue among yourselves, without having to involve your boss or other higher-ups. Showcase your competence in problem solving.

Focus your answer on the facts rather than blaming the other person. Instead of saying, “Jim was such a slacker,” simply explain the situation and what steps you took to solve the problem: “On at least three occasions, Jim missed deadlines that pushed back our production schedule. After I discussed this with him, we found a way to improve the workflow system together.”

QUESTION 3: Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss
Tread carefully here. (And yes, we know that can be difficult.)

To set a positive tone, begin your response by acknowledging the difficulty of the situation: “It’s not easy to confront your manager, but I’ve learned that it has to be done some times.”

Then choose an anecdote that shows you respected your boss’ opinion: “When my boss suggested we change our sales pitch to new clients, we figured out what wasn’t working and created a new strategy together.”

QUESTION 4: How do you deal with differences of opinion when working on a team?
Conflict resolution is often a team effort. It’s not always easy to see eye to eye with co-workers, but that’s not a good reason to discount their contributions. No surprise many employers seek job candidates who demonstrate strong teamwork skills.

Hiring managers want to hear that you value diversity of opinion and understand how different points of view can contribute to a better solution than if everyone just immediately agreed with each other.

As such, your response to this question should point out that you welcome alternate perspectives: “I always appreciate different viewpoints from my own. When someone expresses a different opinion, I listen carefully to what the person says and utilize that feedback.”

QUESTION 5: Tell me about a time you had to respond to an unhappy customer or client
When you’re interviewing for a client- or customer-facing position, you’re applying to be an ambassador for the company and that type of role carries a lot of responsibility.

Especially in the age of the internet, how you respond to conflicts with a customer is a public matter. Losing a major client or customer can cost the company a lot of money. Show that you’re willing to go the extra mile to make customers or clients happy. This demonstrates that you understand the value of customer service.

As with other behavioral interview questions, your anecdote should focus on the positive outcome: “Here was how I de-escalated the situation and kept the client happy going forward.”

Show hiring managers that you aren’t nursing an overblown ego and are eager to embrace a peacekeeping process. Not only can this type of attitude serve you well in the workplace, but it can also improve non-working relationships as well.

Conflict Resolution Will Serve You Well
Learning how to peacefully coexist with your colleagues will take you far. Want to learn more expert insights to succeed at work? Monster can send you free career advice and job search tips so you can learn how to stay cool when the pressure inevitably mounts.

You Learn How the Candidate Approaches Conflict When You Ask Questions

How to answer interview questions about conflict

Looking for interview questions for your job candidates that will help you assess their conflict resolution skills? Conflict resolution skills and the ability to disagree with others professionally and politely are necessary for a successful contribution to your organization.

If every employee you hire is willing to engage in conflict resolution, more new ideas, and better approaches to solving problems and improving processes will take place in your organization. In fact, creativity, persuasion, collaboration, and adaptability top LinkedIn’s “List of Skills Companies Need the Most in 2020.”  

These are all critical skills in creating new ideas, developing better approaches to problem-solving, and resolving interpersonal conflict. Conflict resolution skills are necessary for healthy interpersonal relationships and in building effective teams.

Conflict resolution skills and the willingness to disagree are practices that can help you better serve customers. Disagreement to keep your organization innovating and continuously improving is essential. Disagreement can strengthen the bonds between your employees as they pursue understanding the other party’s point of view.

Disagreement and conflict resolution rarely occur in an interview setting because every participant is behaving professionally and assessing the competence of all parties present. The goal of the interview is to make a good match, so it’s a challenge to identify your candidate’s strengths in conflict resolution and disagreement. They will not normally be displayed in an interview setting

Conflict Resolution and Disagreement Skills Interview Questions

The following sample interview questions should help you pinpoint your candidate’s strengths and weaknesses in the areas of conflict resolution and disagreement.

  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with an idea your coworker wanted to pursue. How did you approach the disagreement?
  • Think about a situation in which you disagreed with the direction or idea that your boss suggested. What did you do to professionally disagree? If not, what were your thoughts about the situation?
  • When you work with a team or a group, disagreement about direction, decisions, and even mission and vision, are common. Tell us about a time when you handled a disagreement. How did you approach the situation and what was the resolution?
  • When you think about your experience with disagreement and conflict resolution, how would you rate your skills in handling differences of opinion? Please give an example that illustrates that skill.
  • How comfortable are you, in general, with dealing with differences of opinion and disagreement? Can you provide a work-related example that illustrates your comfort level?
  • The leader of a team on which you participate consistently talks more than all of the members of the group. Consequently, his views largely direct the actions of the team. He is smart, wants participation, wants the other members to step up, but no one practices the professional courage necessary to make the team successful. What would you do in this situation?
  • Think of a time when you worked with a coworker who would seem to agree with the direction decided by a group. But, for weeks and even months later, the coworker continued to raise objections to the decisions made by the group. How did you address this situation with the coworker? If not, what were you thinking about when you decided not to confront the ongoing problem?

Conflict Resolution and Disagreement Questions for Managers

These sample interview questions should help you pinpoint a potential manager’s strengths and weaknesses in the skills needed for conflict resolution and disagreement.

  • As a manager, tell us about a time when you and a reporting employee disagreed about a direction, how you handled a situation, a performance review, or suggestions for improvement. How did you handle the disagreement?
  • As a manager, I’m sure you have experienced situations in which employees were in conflict and disagreed with each other on important issues. What is your preferred approach for helping the employees resolve the conflict?
  • As a manager, you represent the interests of a particular department or company unit. While the overall direction is set by senior managers in most situations, it is up to the manager of a particular unit to set the direction for their staff. How did you deal with a situation in which you disagreed with the direction in which other managers wanted to lead their teams?

Conflict Resolution Interview Question Answers

When you review your candidate’s responses to questions related to conflict and disagreement, how appropriate did you find their responses? How articulate is the candidate in the responses offered about dealing with disagreement?

Whether the candidate is applying to manage the work of other employees or you just need an individual contributor, how clearly did the candidate communicate what he or she did to manage the conflict or disagreement?

Was the candidate able to identify specific conflicts in which he has participated? If not, you may have spoken with an individual who avoids necessary conflict for whatever reason. This is not good when you are looking for an effective team member.

If the candidate did provide examples, did you think the candidate effectively addressed the conflict? Did the candidate avoid, put up with, or too aggressively address the situation? Is the candidate’s conflict resolution style congruent with the norm in your organization?

Is the candidate willing to participate in conflict and disagreements? Try to assess whether the individual’s approach to conflict is appropriate and preferred. Find more information about dealing with conflict and disagreement.

Sample Job Interview Questions for Employers

Use these sample job interview questions when you interview potential employees.

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

Similar interview questions:
How are you at dealing with conflict?
What do you do when you disagree with others?
Do you open up or close down in conflict situations?
How do you handle disagreements?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer is looking for information that normally would not be offered on the resume or as part of the standard interview response–how the candidate deals with conflict. Many otherwise excellent employees have seen their downfall in how they handled (or didn’t handle) conflict. The interviewer knows that most candidates will not offer up true conflict situations, so the practiced interviewer will continue to drill until a real example is provided.

The best approach to answering this question:
Talk briefly about the conflict, but focus on the resolution of the conflict. Give an actual example of a resolved conflict, walking through the situation which brought up the conflict, what actions you took to resolve the conflict and the end result.

An example of how to best answer this question for an experienced candidate:
“I recently had a conflict with an employee in another department who had a project which was dependent on work being done by myself and two other members of our team. He had sent a rather urgent e-mail acusing us of derailing his project. I had never met him before, so I asked to get together with him for coffee. I asked him to walk me through his project and the interdependency of his project with our project. I then walked him through our project and timelines. Once we had the opportunity to communicate our independent priorities, we could begin talking about our shared priorities. We agreed to a timeline that would help us both meet our goals and the conflict was resolved before it became a major incident.”

An example of how to best answer this question for an entry level candidate:
“I recently had a disagreement with one of my professors over the wording of a question on one of the key exams, which was missed by several members of the class due to the ambiguity. I brought it up to the professor privately and personally, but he was dismissive of my request. After discussing it with several classmates, we went to him together to discuss it further. At that point, he agreed that there was a level of ambiguity in the question, but still would not change the grade of the test. However, he did appreciate us bringing it to his attention and gave us the opportunity to work on a separate project for extra credit to make up for the shortfall on the test. We completed the extra credit and we were all happy with the end result. It wasn’t necessarily the solution we were seeking, but it was a compromise that was acceptable.”

An example of how you should not answer this question:
“I’ve always found that I need to show the other person, in detail, the error of their ways, then they will eventually come around to seeing my way being the best way to do things. Do I have conflict? Sure. But having conflict is a healthy thing. I actually welcome conflict. In fact, I grew up in a family where conflict was a way of life. I got battered and bruised growing up that way, but I learned how to come out swinging and make my way in the world.”

Further review: know the answers to these 100 Standard Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

How to answer interview questions about conflict

Conflict is an unpleasant, but necessary, part of life. Once you join the workforce, you’ll be interacting with lots of different people, all of whom have their own way of doing things—so you’re bound to disagree with them from time to time. To determine whether you can resolve workplace conflicts peacefully and productively, interviewers often ask, “How do you handle conflict?”

In this guide, you’ll learn how to put your interviewer at ease and prove that you can rise above the fray. Here’s what we’ll cover:

The basics of a great response

Interviewers love to ask questions about conflict. How you deal with conflict speaks to your work ethic, disposition, and ability to mesh with the company culture. And since this is a behavioral interview question, telling them, “I’m fine with conflict!” or “I really hate conflict!” isn’t enough. You need to have a relevant, real-life example to back up your response. Here are the five components of a successful answer:

  1. In one sentence, summarize your outlook on conflict.
  2. Briefly describe a relevant previous conflict.
  3. Focus most of your response on the actions you took and skills you used to reach a resolution.
  4. End with the positive outcome.
  5. Connect your past actions to this role.

“How do you handle conflict?” sample answers

Use the examples below as inspiration for your own response.

Here’s an example for someone pursuing their first internship:

I called her up later that night, and learned that she had four papers due the following week—and was working 20 hours a week at a local restaurant. I offered to meet her at the restaurant going forward to save her commute time, and I also offered to edit her other essays, since she wasn’t a native English speaker. I then reworked our project plan so that I’d do more of the prep work, and she’d do more at the end. By taking the time to understand where my classmate was coming from, we got our paper in on time—and we got an A. I never mind going the extra mile to help a teammate, and I’ll do the same as your intern.

This candidate weaves a compelling story, without getting lost in the weeds. They describe the conflict briefly, and then focus the majority of the response on what they did to resolve it. Finally, by mentioning that they produced an “A” paper, they show that their conflict-resolution skills yield measurable success.

Here’s an example for an entry-level sales role:

Since that partner was traveling on business, I brought the client coffee and asked him to have a seat. Then, I found another partner who was available, and asked her to meet with the client and take notes. The client calmed down, the meeting went well, and I forwarded the notes to the other partner, so that he could take over with ease when he was back in the office. I find that remaining calm and focusing on how to resolve the problem are the most important skills when dealing with conflict. As your sales rep, I’ll bring the same care to every client interaction.

While this candidate shares their general outlook on resolving conflict after sharing their example, this response also checks all the boxes. It’s also clearly tailored to the role at hand. Since sales reps interact with clients on a daily basis, it’s especially useful to know that this candidate is experienced in defusing tense customer situations.

What not to say

You now know what to say, but do you know what to avoid? Here are the top mistakes people make when answering the interview question, “How do you handle conflict?”

  1. “I avoid it until it goes away.” Even if you are someone who absolutely hates conflict, employers don’t want to hear that you ignore or avoid it. Conflict happens, and they need to know you have the tools to deal with it productively.
  2. “I never experience it.” Everyone experiences conflict at some point, so this response makes you look dishonest—or in denial. Remember that not all conflict is a big deal; try sharing an example of a time when you had a difference of opinion from another person but came to an agreement.
  3. “I dig in.” It’s great that you’re confident—but overconfidence can make you blind to your own wrongdoing or mistakes. Don’t give the interviewer any reason to think you react to conflict defensively. You need to show that you’re a diplomat.
  4. Focusing on the “right” and “wrong.” Addressing conflict is complex, so stay away from black-and-white judgments. Avoid saying that you were right; instead, stay positive by focusing on mutual successes and building strong relationships.

In other words: “How do you handle conflict?”

Interviewers love to ask about how you handle conflict, and they ask about it in many ways. Here are a few other questions that are similar to, “How do you handle conflict?”

  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with someone and how you resolved it.
  • Do you ever argue with other people?
  • Tell me about a time you had to deal with an unhappy customer.
  • You disagree with your supervisor. What do you do?
  • Do you see conflict as positive or negative?
  • How do you deal with differing opinions when you’re working on a team?

Each of these questions is about how you show up in the face of conflict. By following the guidelines above and crafting your own response, the interviewer will have no internal conflict about whether you’re a great candidate.


Hiring managers love to ask behavioural/competency-based job interview questions. Past performance and how a candidate handles a specific situation, is a great way to predict future performance and can also show whether a candidate is going to fit into the hiring managers team.

Handling Conflict?

The most common subject where hiring managers love to focus their attention is conflict. Conflict in the office and more importantly, conflict with either management or team members. Conflict in the world place happens in every office across the world. It doesn’t matter how gelled together and how many years they’ve spent working with each other, team members will still have disagreements and conflict will always exist.

Typical conflict-related behavioural/competency-based job interview questions that you could be asked include;

  • Describe a difficult work situation
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone difficult
  • Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work with either a co-worker or manager
  • Give an example of a time when you had to discuss a problem with an unhappy manager or colleague
  • Tell me about a time that you disagreed with a rule or an approach to a project

Competency-Based Job Interview

How to answer interview questions about conflict

We have talked about this in the past, however, the basic premise around answering any questions that start with “Tell me about a time…” or “Give me an example of…” or similar is to remember the hiring manager wants to see how you’ve handled specific situations in the past. The theory is that past performance will say a lot about how you would handle yourself if hired for the job at hand.

Most jobs require you to work as a team to get the job done. Teams are typically made up of different types of people with different strengths and weaknesses. The problem with this, some of your colleagues will turn out to be idiots with disagreements bound to arise. Consequently, to succeed in your role, you need to be dealing with these conflict situations while at the same time working as a team to get the job done.

How to Answer

I would highly recommend that you prepare an answer to this one question as it’s caught even the best candidates out over the years. The biggest problem in answering competency-based job interview questions about conflict is that nobody likes to talk about conflict situations.

It’s a forbidden word that candidate feel spells disaster. Candidates would prefer you to tell you how good they are at the job, and what a nice person they are to work with. The problem is that hiring managers know this and that their team is never going to exists without some disagreements in place. Hence the question.

The idea to answer the question with a story that you can prepare the basic’s in advance, and structure your answer in such a way that it’s both concise and present you in a favourable light.

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result

Example Question – Tell Me About a Time You Had a Conflict on a Team Project

Situation / Task

The idea here is to describe the context for the conflict to arise while adding the details to make it sound believable. Ideally, I would try and prepare an example in advance of something that has happened in real life as you need to make sure you can add the details, without getting lost in the tiny details that do not matter.

Over the years I’ve met so many candidates who’ve tried to make a story up on the spot, only to either start contradicting themselves with the details or getting lost in the details that the whole thing sounds like it’s made up.

As an example of the Situation / Task, your answer could be something along the lines of; “Last year we developed a new sales brochure for prospective clients, however, we struggled with the deadline that was set. The problem was that we probably did not give ourselves, quite enough time to complete the process and the get the new brochure ready for an upcoming trade show”.

“My job was to make sure we delivered the project on time. I had to manage the team members from Marketing, Sales, Graphic Design, and Product Management. It was a large team, upwards of twenty people, who covered different areas of the sales brouchure”.

“The biggest problem I had was the design of the front cover that was heavily delayed. Sadly the designer missed the deadline that I gave him, and when I discussed it with him, he started screaming at me, and tried to tell me it was my fault.”

In the above, I’ve clearly set the scene and discussed, briefly the task that has been established. It’s also a real conflict situation and one that if not handled correctly, could have has a real effect on the company.


This the second part of the answer where you need to think about the actions that you took. In this case, because we’re looking at a conflict situation, your efforts need to show how you resolved the disagreement professionally and productively.

As an example, you could say something along the lines of, “I was taken aback by his response, but I remained calm. I acknowledged that the deadlines were tight and explained the reasoning and the importance of having the brochure ready for the trade show again”.

“When he understood that I was not there to get him into trouble, he relaxed and started speaking to me as a colleague. We had a great conversation where he told me about his other projects and how time-consuming this project was, given the details that had been asked for”.

“We tried to look at ways where I could help him with his other projects so that he could devote more time to this brochure. In the end, I spoke with his manager, explained the situation and the problems we were facing, and we all agreed that his other projects would be put on hold until this brochure was complete”


The final step is to discuss the results. Make sure you don’t just mention the project was a success, but go into detail. I would highly recommend that you use numerical figures to show how affirmative the plan was when finished.

As an example, “The designed managed to complete the design on the front cover in two days, given he was allowed to concentrate on this task solely. As a result, the sales brochure was completed on time and went down very well with new and existing clients. In the end, the sales team managed to close £800,000 in new sales, and while we have a great sales team, this brochure, I’m sure, played it’s part”.


As with all thing’s competency-based, make sure you prepare an actual example that has taken place, rather than trying to make something up on the spot.

How to answer interview questions about conflict

Looking for Conflict Management job? Want to switch your career to Conflict Management? Then you’re at right place to land your dream job. Conflict management is the process of limiting the negative aspects of conflict while increasing the positive aspects of conflict. The aim of conflict management is to enhance learning and group outcomes, including effectiveness or performance in an organizational setting. If you are expertise at Conflict Management then there are several opportunities for the roles like Project Managers, Resource Manager, Associate Analyst and many other roles too. Not if you have idea in the subject will get you job. You must also know to how to apply and where to apply. So, to make simple we have provided everything that you need regarding Conflict Management Interview Questions and Answers on our site

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Conflict Management Interview Questions And Answers

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Answer :

Job seeker should explain that seeking clarification is alright; that they try to clarify things to make sure the job is done right; should see conflict as natural and not a personal attack.

Answer :

Job seeker should explain that they put the team first. should not appear easily intimidated. seeks to resolve differences. does not personalize conflicts.

Answer :

Candidate should show that they are helpful in resolving conflicts by understanding each co-workers view of the situation.

Answer :

You basically want to hear that they do not like to point fingers at others; that they try to stop the mistake from happening again by making his/her colleague aware of their error in a non blame educational manner

Answer :

Job seeker should appear to know how to resolve issues and uses it as an opportunity to reinforce interpersonal relationships. concentrates on the issues and never personalized things.

Answer :

Candidate should appear to know how to convince others that their point is right. Sees conflict as natural. Never personalize it, but explains the issues involved forcefully; stands up for what he believes is best for the business in a logical and reasonable manner.

Answer :

Job seeker should appear to be able to reason logically and forcibly argue for what is best for the company; should be respectful to, but not intimidated by higher management.

Answer :

There are a lot of skills that can help set conflict resolution specialists apart, but one very important skill is communication. It doesn’t matter how well I can make decisions or solve problems if I cannot listen and communicate effectively, my efforts will never be successful. Communication is a vital skill because it is what makes mediation possible. Without solid communication, the parties will not hear the message or understand the agreement being forged.

Answer :

I was responsible for solving conflicts between team members who lost the ability to work together effectively. Because I wasn’t a conflict resolution specialist at the time, I didn’t really get many cases. There was one set of employees, however, who got to the point where their conflict was affecting the productivity of their entire team, so it was time someone step in.

My first step was to separate the two and have a one-on-one discussion with them about what was going on in an effort to understand the situation and calm everyone down. Once I had a grasp on what was going on, I felt comfortable meeting with the two of them together in an effort to resolve the issue.

Of course, in a heated situation like that, tempers were high, so I had to remind them that this was a professional setting and it was their responsibility to be reasonable and understanding. Once they started seeing things from a different perspective, it was easy to reach a resolution. This was my first foray with conflict resolution, and it was what got me started on my new professional path.

Answer :

As a professional conflict resolution specialist, I think it is important to continually try to improve my methods and interpersonal skills. To that end, I attend seminars and workshops on a semi-regular basis. Most recently I attended a workshop designed to help conflict specialists gain new mediation tools aimed at helping resolve conflicts between family members.

Answer :

As you can tell from my resume, I have a technical understanding of finance and conflict resolution due to my bachelor’s degrees in finance and conflict management and my designation as a Certified Public Accountant. My experience as a CPA and then as a resolution specialist has given me the hands-on experience in both fields to really understand what is going on. Beyond my experience and education, I am qualified for this position because of my decision-making, critical-thinking and interpersonal skills.

Answer :

The parties respond to a resolution in the best way if it is consensual. When a judge or mediator has to tell them what their compromises are, at least one party is unhappy and the conflict may not be completely resolved. If, however, the parties are willing to have a mediated discussion, I find that the results are a little more positive. Of course, a consensual process is not always possible because it depends on the dispute and the parties involved, but this is what I always try to do as a conflict resolution specialist.