How Do You Handle Conflict At Work

How To Answer The Interview Question: How Do You Handle Conflict At Work?

This question is a behavioral question aimed at finding out a candidate’s ability to handle conflict and the scope of his or her interpersonal skills as a whole. Most jobs description requires you to interact with different people from diverse backgrounds and orientation. Some of your coworkers, managers or even clients may turn out to be obstinate, uncomplimentary, domineering, self-seeking, non-understanding, and reprehensible; hence disagreements are bound to arise. So your emotional intelligence will need to be tested to establish your suitability for the applied role.

The last thing on an employer’s mind is to recruit someone who is difficult to work with, high-headed, temperamental, and an individual with the tendency of turning a small issue into higher ones, hence job interviewers will want to test you in that regard.


What does conflict mean?

A conflict is a contest of interest, ideas, perception, and feelings that is capable of creating disharmony and hard feelings among individuals or groups. It is always tricky to deal with conflict in any aspect of life, and it can cause a great deal of tension, distrust, and disruption in the workplace or anywhere else.


Tips for Answering the Question

Show your sense of composure and ability to understand others’ perspectives

Disagreements are bound to happen in any human dealing, it is just a normal part of workplace interactions to have a conflict with others. The interviewer wants to know that the situation will not degenerate through your actions or inactions when it does happen. Your response should show the employer that as soon as you realize that there is a conflict, you try to understand the other person’s perspective, act rationally and responsibly, and deal with the conflict quickly before it worsens. You can equally show your ability to compromise and keep a clear head while dealing with conflicts.


Choose a good conflict example

Select an example that portrays you taking an active approach to resolving an important conflict with either a coworker or a client. The answer should be specific and direct. Let the choice of example be a major disagreement that was resolved by you and not by someone else. The idea is to show your interpersonal and problem-solving skills.


Be concise in your actions on conflict resolution.

The most memorable and compelling stories carry enough details to paint a clear picture. Show why the conflict is significant and how your handling made the difference in resolving the said conflict. However, you should make an effort to keep the story precise; it is very easy to go off tangent, especially if you are not prepared in advance.


Show your ability to think logically.

Employers are always keen n someone who will act reasonably and look at the information at their disposal so as to make an informed decision. So it is vital to show them that you use facts and logic to decide what to do. This will make them feel that you are predictable and will not act impulsively. This is so because reactionary approaches in conflict will be unhealthy for the company and can scare employers from hiring you.


Let them know you have the company’s best interest in mind.

Your response should show that your actions will not disrupt or distract the organization’s operations and services or perhaps cause disaccord in the working environment. Hence your conflict handling proposition should be consistent with the organization’s best interest regardless of the circumstance.



Take time to rehearse telling your story, from your choice of words to your countenance. This is important when telling a story about a workplace disagreement or conflict. Conflicts often result in arguments, damages, and professional disharmony. It is important to feel confident discussing the sensitive details in a way that gets your point across.


Examples of Answers to the question “How do you handle workplace conflict”?

The question could come in different forms as listed below:

  1. How will you handle a workplace conflict?

This question can be answered like, “When faced with a workplace conflict, I will love to ask questions and appreciate my conflicting partner’s perspective. This will help keep the situation calm, make them feel valued, and I am certain it will be easier reaching an agreement or compromise while both staying a lot calm”.

  1. How did you handle a conflict with a coworker in your previous job?

This question can be answered like this, “In my previous job, I reached out to a potential client via a phone call. I didn’t know that one of my colleagues had been talking to this same client. My coworker was upset at first, but I explained that I had no idea he was in contact with the client. Once I told him my view, he understood it was an honest mistake. We agreed to split the commission for this new client by half each, so we sold the idea to our team leader, and she agreed to it. We ended up landing the client and they became one of our biggest clients”.

  1. How will you handle a disagreement with your superior?

The question can be answered as;” If I feel it is necessary to voice my opinion when I disagree with my boss, I will be constructive and polite. If for instance, the superior is unfriendly and hostile, in a way that is affecting my productivity, I will ask for a meeting to express how I feel. And I am confident the outcome will be beneficial to all of us and the company at large”.


Measures of Handling Workplace Conflict

  1. Foster good relationships with colleagues

Relationship in this context does not necessarily mean closeness or friendship, but instead, a sense of mutual understanding in which team members agree on specific roles and boundaries in the workplace. This should be done systematically to prevent misunderstanding and undue isolation.

  1. Develop a good communication mechanism.

Conflicts normally take place due to poor communication. So it is expected that you voice your opinion immediately there is a disagreement, rather than allowing resentments and anger to result in full-blown conflict. Workplace communication should equally be done in a mature and civil way so as not to cause disaccord.

  1. React and act objectively at work.

It is common for individuals to act in an emotional and subjective way; you should strive to be as forthright as possible at the workplace. Try to focus on a coworker’s attitude, as opposed to concentrating on aspects of their personality.

  1. Identify and deal with a recurring conflict situation.

In a situation where particular kinds of conflict keep reoccurring, take cogent steps to permanently solve the matter in an effective way. The best way to deal with such a situation is to identify the exact point of contention and calmly discuss possible resolutions.


Interview Questions

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