While you may love your job, work with great people and enjoy a positive work atmosphere, you will inevitably encounter conflict with a colleague.
Most people try to avoid these situations in the workplace but by learning from these experiences, you will become better equipped and more confident to handle similar conflicts in the future. Being able to showcase these skills to employers in an interview is extremely valuable and it's a question you should definitely prepare for.
Hiring managers ask these questions because they want to know if you are a cultural fit for the team. They want to know if you are able to take a step back and remain level headed or if you will only escalate things? Here are four common questions to prepare for which hiring managers may ask in interviews to assess your skills in conflict resolutions.
1. Tell me about a time when you had an issue with a co-worker.
This is the most common question surrounding conflict resolution. You should use this question as an opportunity to showcase a situation in which you encountered and how you manage to overcome certain issues with a colleague.
When dealing with this question, it is important to try and focus on the resolution of the conflict, rather than the conflict itself. Don’t get lost in the drama, focus on how you resolved the situation with your colleague without involving your manager.
2. How do you deal with conflict?
The interviewer will want to know that you can handle conflict calmly and politely. Talk about your philosophy when it comes to resolving conflict. A suitable response may be: "I would acknowledge the validity of their findings. Then I would describe how I came to my conclusions using my data. I would also invite an open discussion of the results."
3. Have you ever disagreed with your boss? If so, how did you handle that situation?
This question definitely requires some finesse from your side. The last thing you want to do is go in there and start bad-mouthing your former company. This is not a good signal to send to your potential employers. Acknowledge the difficulty of the situation and also how you respected your boss.
Additionally, be conscious of your body language and tone of voice when telling a story like this. You may non verbally communicate feelings of resentment and employers don’t want to hire someone who holds a grudge.
4. How do you deal with differences of opinion when working on a team?
Differences of opinion are only natural in the workplace. Particularly in data science, it is important for team members to question each other's findings in order to find the right solutions. This question is asked as employers want to know that you value a diversity of opinion.
Your response should highlight that you value alternate perspectives e.g. “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.”
There will always be conflict at work, whether that means confronting the person who stole your lunch from the office refrigerator to negotiating a new contract or having a difference of opinion with a colleague on certain methods and projects.
Being able to show an interviewer that you can peacefully coexist with your colleagues while still getting your own points across is very important. This will come easier to certain people than others but like every other skill, you will improve on this over time.