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How to Answer Conflict Interview Questions

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Conflict interview questions assess your response to workplace conflict situations. Typically, they are asked during the behavioral and leadership rounds of interviews. Recruiters ask these questions to learn how you'd react in stressful situations at work and what steps you'd take to resolve sensitive situations involving coworkers. Recruiters assess your level of maturity to handle and resolve workplace conflicts professionally and respectfully by asking these conflict interview questions.

Top tech companies have made behavioral interviews critical for software engineering and other technical roles, and conflict resolution interview questions are included. Many times, even engineers with extensive professional experience fail to make the cut due to poor performance in behavioral interviews. Given the frequency with which conflict interview questions appear in behavioral interviews, it is critical to prepare concise responses to conflict interview questions.

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In this article, let’s go ahead and look at some common conflict interview questions asked at behavioral interviews. We’ll understand the different types of conflict resolution interview questions and look at some sample answers to these questions.

Here’s what we’ll discuss:

  • Conflict Interview Questions Asked at Technical Interviews
  • How to Answer Interview Questions About Conflict?
  • FAQs on Conflict Interview Questions

Conflict Interview Questions Asked at Technical Interviews

Asking conflict interview questions and assessing your response is a proven way for interviewers to assess your professional conduct, your ability to handle stress, and your level of maturity in dealing with challenging situations.

Let’s look at some common conflict interview questions asked in technical interviews.

  1. How do you handle conflict at the workplace?
  2. Explain a situation when you handled a conflict with a coworker?
  3. Tell us about a time when you disagreed with your manager.
  4. How do you handle conflicts when working as a team?
  5. Tell us about a time when you disagreed with a particular company policy and how you dealt with it?

How to Answer Interview Questions About Conflict?

Q1. How would you handle conflict at the workplace?

How you handle or have handled conflicts at the workplace is one of the most common conflict resolution interview questions that recruiters commonly ask at behavioral interviews. Here’s how we can answer this popular conflict resolution interview question. 

I understand that conflicts at the workplace can occur when one least expects them. I believe that the best way to handle conflicts is through dialogue. I respect diversity and understand that people can have different opinions. I would handle a conflict by collaborating with my coworker(s) and arriving at a solution that is mutually beneficial. Taking a moment to first understand the situation and thinking before responding are some aspects that I practice while resolving a conflict situation at the workplace.

Q2. Tell us about a time situation when you handled a conflict with a coworker.

This is a common behavioral interview question asked at technical interviews. The best way to answer this question is by employing the STAR format. The STAR method serves as an effective way to answer commonly asked behavioral interview questions.

STAR stands for -

S - Situation

T - Task

A - Action

R - Result

Let’s look at how you can answer this conflict interview question using the STAR method.

When working on an important project in my previous company, there was a coworker who frequently challenged my solutions. This coworker also had a tendency to speak out of turn and interrupt others before completely hearing their opinions or inputs on the project. My patience was tested, and at times I got annoyed and infuriated.

I realized that dialogue is the way forward. I also realized that the pressure was pretty steep, and a lot of us were stressed because of the workload. Changing myself in this situation was key. I decided to switch gears and become more patient and empathetic. This changed the environment a lot, given that I was a senior on the team. We were able to correspond healthily after that. Dialogue is a brilliant way to resolve conflicts and understand each other.

Q3. Tell us about a time when you disagreed with your manager.

Disagreements with a manager are among the most important conflict interview questions asked at behavioral interviews. Having disagreements with a manager can be emotionally draining and impact productivity and performance. Using the STAR method to answer this question is highly recommended as it gives recruiters clarity on the situation and how they handled it.

In my previous company, I was gathering data about the past performance of projects we worked on as a team. This data was to be presented to our leadership team and to obtain funding for new projects. While I went about preparing the data, my manager asked me not to include projects that failed or those that significantly overshot timelines. 

I disagreed with the proposition, mostly because it would misrepresent our past project performance and give the leadership the wrong idea of how certain projects went down.

I decided to speak my mind and told my manager what I thought of the situation. My manager called me to meet with the leadership to discuss the issue. We then mutually decided that it would be in the best interest of future opportunities to showcase the data of successful projects only. 

We did, however, mention that the data presented was that of successful projects to avoid inaccurate representation. I understood the logic behind my manager’s action, and the issue was amicably resolved through dialogue.

Q4. How do you deal with differences in opinion when working as a large team?

When working as a team, it is pretty natural for differences of opinion to emerge. Recruiters often ask this question to see how you collaborate and take other people’s opinions into perspective while making a decision. Let’s take a look at the sample answer to this conflict resolution interview question.

When we were working on a challenging project in my previous company, a lot of my coworkers had different opinions on how we should proceed. This could lead to differences among members of the team. It is, however, important not to ignore the contributions of team members. The responsibility of resolving a conflict in a situation like this rests upon every team member.

My supervisor took the lead on this and brought everybody together to speak it out and resolve the conflict. This helped a great deal and cleared the air. I also actively participated in the dialogue, stating that everybody’s contributions and efforts have to be valued if we should respect each other and make great decisions as a team.

Q5. Tell us about a time when you disagreed with a team/company policy or rule. How did you handle the situation?

Disagreeing with a team or company policy can sometimes be distracting and impact performance at work. The important thing to do in a situation like this is to speak your mind out.

In my previous company, my manager often worked late and expected that everyone in the team also stayed and worked long hours, regardless of the workload. This is something that not just me but other team members also disagreed with. We had to make our manager understand that this was taking a toll on us.

We got together, approached our manager, and made our concerns clear. We drove the dialogue through reason and made him understand that staying long hours isn’t a direct indication of our commitment to projects. It ended well, with our manager understanding our concern. 

These answers to commonly asked conflict interview questions will help you get a good idea of what to expect at behavioral interviews. The sample answers will help you understand the best way to answer these conflict interview questions and ace behavioral interviews at top companies. 

FAQs on How to Answer Conflict Interview Questions

Q1. Are conflict interview questions asked at software engineer interviews?

Yes, although it is commonly understood that software engineering interviews involve mostly coding and systems design, conflict interview questions are an important part of interviews for software engineers.

Q2. What is the best way to answer conflict interview questions asked at behavioral interviews?

The best way to answer conflict interview questions in behavioral interviews is to employ the STAR method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Your answer should touch upon each of these elements to give recruiters a good idea of what went down.

Q3. When are conflict interview questions asked at technical interviews?

Conflict interview questions are typically asked during behavioral interviews that take place during the On-site interview.

Q4. How many conflict interview questions can you expect at behavioral interviews?

Recruiters typically ask one or two conflict interview questions at behavioral interviews. However, there can be additional questions around conflict resolution based on your answers.

Q5. What are other types of behavioral interview questions asked in FAANG+ interviews?

Apart from conflict interview questions, behavioral interview questions are centered around work-life balance, relationships with coworkers and managers, handling of difficult projects, workplace ethics, ownership, and leadership.

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