You’re in the middle of a job interview. So far, things are going well. Then they say: “Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss.”
Maybe your last supervisor was a sweetheart; maybe she was a dragon lady. Before answering, remember that this question is not really about her. It’s about you and your approach to conflict resolution.
How to Structure Your Answer
This is an example of a behavioral-based interview question that requires specific details. You may find the S.T.A.R. method (an acronym that stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result) helpful in forming your response.
- Set the situation What led to the conflict?
- Explain your task. What was your goal?
- Describe the action you took. How did you work to resolve the conflict?
- Reveal the result of your actions. Did you change your supervisor’s mind?
Ideally, you want to portray a situation in which you were able to persuade your boss to accept your point of view. Additionally, make sure the situation was project-related and not simply a personality clash. Be clear and brief. Provide enough details for the interviewer to understand the story, but don’t lose focus on your ability to effectively manage conflict.
Your scenario should illustrate some key points:
- You understand and respect different viewpoints.
- You can stand up for yourself and your beliefs.
- You can work toward mutual understanding.
- Even if the outcome wasn’t to your liking, you can share what you learned and how you might handle a similar situation in the future.
Don’t have a Good Example?
Maybe this is your first job search, or you truly have never disagreed with a supervisor. Then, describe how you would react if you and your boss didn’t see eye-to-eye on something. The point is to illustrate good communication skills and a proactive approach to resolving conflict.
In today’s increasingly diverse workplaces, individuals are bound to disagree at some point. Your goal in the interview is to show that you can handle a difference of opinion respectfully and maturely.
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