No matter how well you have prepared for an interview, there is always the chance you’ll yourself phased by a question that you have not prepared for, and any hesitation could hinder your chances of employment. One of the most prominent of these questions is 'how do you handle conflict in the workplace?' This question is designed to assess two key aspects of your suitability as a candidate:
- It gauges your ability to function and communicate well within a pressurized situation, almost as a representation of an everyday working environment.
- Your response gives a clear indication of your awareness of the mechanics of a typical workplace, and the necessary procedures involved within a department or team. Remember, it is not a trick question, and is not intended to trip you up, and should instead be considered as a tool to help employers understand you better as a candidate.
The Basis of a Relevant Answer
So, the key to a relevant answer is to not over complicate the question, and to address it exactly as it is phrased. If you are asked, 'how do you answer conflict in the workplace?', then your response should be based on both logic and any previous experience you have gained. Consider the following principles:
- As with any conflict, it is important to have an objective overview of the problem. To resolve any dispute there must be a willingness to compromise, so it is important to understand any issues from a colleague’s viewpoint as well as your own.
- The first step to conflict resolution in the workplace is to address the relevant colleague directly, and to speak to them in an appropriate and professional manner. Many problems can be solved by simple communication, so this can often be a significant step in resolution.
- If a workplace conflict cannot be settled between the two individuals involved, then it must be highlighted to a relevant manager or team leader. They can then assess the conflict and seek to mediate accordingly, creating a resolution that can benefit both parties.
These points should form the basis of your answer, as they manage to convey a broad set of relevant personal attributes as well as an awareness and understanding of your colleague’s and employer’s needs. By demonstrating that you are a reasonable and reflective individual, you are showing a potential employer that you have a calm and unflappable nature that can thrive amongst a demanding workload and diverse set of colleagues and co-workers. Remember, there are no deceptive questions in an interview, only opportunities to give a strong and favourable impression of yourself to an employer.
Have you ever struggled with this question in an interview, or do you have any advice you can offer on how to answer it successfully?