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Interview Prep: How Did You Deal with a Difficult Person?

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Interview Prep: How Did You Deal with a Difficult Person?

“Tell me about a time you dealt with conflict in the workplace.”

“How do you handle someone who has upset you?”

“How do you work with a difficult person?”

“Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss.”

This type of question, called a behavioral question, is used by job recruiters to evaluate your interpersonal skills. Do you know the best way to respond?

How to Answer “How Did You Deal With a Difficult Person?”

Why Recruiters Ask Behavioral Questions

Throughout your career, you’ll work with people who have diverse personalities and beliefs, as well as different ways to approach a project. You must be able to work effectively together to accomplish your department’s objectives and the company’s goals. Essentially, interviewers are looking for employees who are positive and solutions-oriented.

Questions that ask you to explain how you dealt with an interpersonal issue help recruiters evaluate not only your communication skills, but your emotional intelligence. The Muse defines emotional intelligence as “the savviness to be in tune with your emotions and others’.” Emotional intelligence has become so important in the workplace that a 2020 LinkedIn study found it has replaced time management as one of the top soft skills employers seek among their new hires.

How Should You Answer?

Interview experts recommend answering behavioral questions by telling a brief story.

“Behavioral questions require you to describe how you acted in a real-life situation,” notes Indeed. “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.”

The S.T.A.R. method offers a clear way to frame your response. This process requires you to describe the Situation and your Task, discuss the Action you took to resolve the situation, then describe the Results.

Inc. writer J.T. O’Donnell, founder, and CEO of Workitdaily.com, calls this the Experience + Work = Grow Model. “Consistent positivity is necessary for this to work,” he says. “If you really are negative, it will eventually show in your answers.”

Proceed with Caution

While questions about how you approach and attempt to resolve conflict help gauge emotional intelligence, your story should describe actions (I did), not emotions (I felt).

“Give an answer that shows you prefer to discuss your irritations and find a point of agreement with others, rather than simply remaining annoyed or running to the boss to whine without first attempting to solve the issue yourself,” advises Monster.

And while your objective is to show yourself in a positive light, do not attempt that at others’ expense. Criticizing or casting blame is unprofessional. Your answer should demonstrate that you showed a respectful and goal-oriented attitude.

Teamwork is a construct of the modern workplace. Ace this interview question by displaying that you have the skills and emotional intelligence to collaborate effectively.

Are You Ready to Answer This Question?

For assistance with your job search, contact the placement experts at Pro Resources Staffing Services.