Have You Ever Had a Supervisor Question One of Your Decisions?
How to Answer Interview Question: Have You Ever Had a Supervisor Question One of Your Decisions, How Did You Handle It?
Disagreements are inevitable in the workplace. Employees come in with different orientations and work styles, which could be a recipe for misunderstanding and misinterpretation of one’s actions; Especially when poorly communicated. Handling any kind of misunderstanding promptly and rightly is vital to workplace harmony and overall efficiency. It could just be something simple that if ignored could degenerate into a conflict. That is why employees’ comportment and crisis management skills are evaluated in contemporary recruitment processes.
Supervisors and team members are supposed to be on the same page at all times, but there is also a tendency for a team member’s action to be inappropriate or misconstrued. A supervisor is there to oversee and guide team activities, while a team member is expected to give the best on all projects; But that is only possible in a ‘perfect situation’. Disagreements between a supervisor and a team member hardly fester without an understanding. It needs to be dealt with immediately by both parties to prevent it from affecting the entire team as well as future projects. Listening to each other to understand your viewpoints is vital in resolving a misunderstanding.
Quite often when preparing for interviews, we focus on questions that directly concern our professions and the specific position we are vying for, while ignoring behavioral questions. But questions of this sort are equally important because they give interviewers an insight into a candidate’s personality and enable them to gain an understanding of what motivates them. Employers wouldn’t want to hire a resentful person or that who doesn’t accept corrections; Hence understanding your character is of huge importance to the recruiter.
How to approach this question
There are some components and points that should make up your answer. One common formula for answering behavioral interview questions is the STAR approach. STAR here is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This format ensures you capture all important pieces of a story articulately and compellingly.
While answering, highlight what informed your decision accompanied by any relevant background information. The important thing at the beginning of your answer is the issue around the decision and not the individuals. If your supervisor’s disposition was due to poor communication or a difference in opinion, provide the full detail. Once you can paint the scene well from the onset, you have automatically set up the rest of your answer. You shouldn’t focus on explaining just your side of the story. You should also include the superior’s perspective on the issue; Include the way your supervisor saw the decision. If you positively present both dispositions, you will come across as cool-headed and professional. It will also show you appreciate other people’s perspectives.
Explain the particular task or duty that necessitated the decision. Interviewers are looking out for candidates who stand up for what is right, even in the most difficult of situations. Let them know the rationality behind your decision and how you felt it will aid in accomplishing the said task. Disagreement is normal in work life, but what is important is how you navigate through it. If for instance, you need more time or resources for a project or you need to clear up a communication issue, explain the project and the reasons it turned out as it did without being emotional or sentimental.
This requires you to discuss the exact steps you took to address the misunderstanding. Was there a need for a one-on-one meeting with your supervisor? Was the supervisor’s disposition corrective? Did you find a resolution there and then? Answering these questions will give you a preamble to the actions you took in managing the situation. Give the interviewers an insight into how you handled the conversion after your decision was turned down; It will show your problem-solving skills. Take responsibility for all you did prior, during, and after the misunderstanding, including those that might not be complementary.
The last significant element to your answer is the outcome of the situation. This should likely be a positive resolution, where both you and the supervisor agreed on a decision that served the intended purpose of the task or project. A positive outcome doesn’t mean your viewpoint or initial decision prevailed, but rather an outcome made both of you better for it. Provide the details of how the task was completed and the lessons you learned, what you feel your team leader learned, and how it affected your subsequent engagements. Round up the answer by informing the interviewer that the task at hand was completed properly and timely.
Below is a sample answer that captures all four elements of the SRAR answering approach:
“In my role as Deputy-Director finance at non-governmental organization ABC, I was responsible for summarizing the organization’s entire proposed quarterly expenditure as collected from each department. It was important to make the final copy detailed and comprehensive for clarity and understanding.
On a faithful Monday morning, my supervisor requested that I get the document done and ready by Thursday; The task normally takes me four days to complete. I had just finished a course at the Lagos Business School where I learned the use of Microsoft Excel in budget preparation. I opted to use my newfound knowledge of Microsoft Excel against the hand-written format we are used to without informing my supervisor. The next morning, my report was ready and I submitted it, but my supervisor rejected the document and insisted that I used the hand-written format. I thought he didn’t understand it and offered to explain but he held his ground. I know I couldn’t meet up so I politely requested my supervisor to assign other team members to assist me with the summary, which he obliged.
We were able to complete the report past midnight on Wednesday and the board reviewed it at their quarterly meeting on Thursday. My boss was happy we got it done and requested the Microsoft Excel version of the summary he had turned down. After assessing it for a day, he called me to his office and told me that if I had informed him and gave room for vetting he will gladly accept it. He then wrote to the management informing them that henceforth we will be submitting all our reports in a new format developed by me. I got a commendation letter with a bonus for work well done. I realized how crucial team communication is from the situation. Since then, I started talking more to my supervisor and team members on ongoing tasks and projects”
What you should avoid in your answer
There are a few things you should avoid when responding to this question to make it straight and clear:
- Unnecessary details: stick to only to parts of the story that drives your answer. The interviewer doesn’t need to know the specific details of the project, the number of people present, or the clothes you wore except if they will make a point.
- Negativity: focus on the facts of the story, without blaming others for the situation. Avoid comments like “my supervisor never liked” me or “he is a stubborn fellow” that won’t portray you in good light.
- Over justification of your position: the relevant information here is your handling of the situation, whether or not the task was completed, followed by the lessons you learned from the whole scenario. Do not excessively talk about your disposition.
- Colleagues’ opinions: you may want to inject your coworkers’ views of the situation into your response, which will be irrelevant. You are not trying to sell an idea but your suitability for the role you are interviewing to get. Let your answer capture only the parties involved and the role they played.