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Interview Question - Tell me About a Conflict You’ve Faced, and How You Handle it?

Tell me About a Conflict You’ve Faced, and How You Handle it?

In this article, we list common interview questions and answers about conflict and provide some points to remember when answering these questions in an interview.

Tell me about a conflict you have faced?


Conflict is part of life, and unless you are very lucky and don't have to work (why are you reading this?) it is also part of your working life.

I mean, life is a whole series of conflicts, and how you solve them says a lot about who you are as a person and that's why interviewers like to ask you about it.


Some other formulas


There are many forms of the question, depending on the interviewer, including:

  • How do you deal with conflict?
  • Tell me about a Conflict You’ve Faced at Work Tell me about a challenge or conflict you faced at work, and how did you deal with it?
  • What challenge have you faced in your work before?
  • Tell me about an assignment when you had to work with a difficult person?
  • Tell me about a time when you had a conflict at work?
  • Give an example of a time when you had to respond to an unhappy customer or co-worker?
  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with a manager?

Why does the interviewer ask you this question? 


They ask this question to gain insight into your behavior, interpersonal skills, and general ability to manage conflict — not to see how much of a jerk your former colleague or client was. How you answer this question is just as important as the answer you give.

How to prepare for the answer


When it comes to the struggles you face at work, you're probably lying if you say you don't enjoy venting about them in your spare time.

I've had my fair share of complaining about issues with my teammates that I couldn't deal with for another day.

However, it's no secret that discussing the resolution of a beverage conflict and sharing the details of a personal challenge you encountered during the interview require completely different approaches. 

In one scenario, you might try to separate one friend who has the worst co-worker ever; On the other hand, you are trying to show that you are not only good at resolving conflicts professionally, but also that you are open to learning from difficult experiences.


It is important to emphasize the decision that has been made, rather than focusing on the conflict itself.

Consider the following tips:

  • Situation: Briefly explain the issue you have been dealing with in a positive and constructive manner.
  • Task: Describe your role in the situation.
  • Action: Discuss what you did to resolve or address the situation.
  • Outcome: Emphasize what you learned and how your actions had a positive outcome.

Examples to answer the question


Some answers to the question " Tell me about a conflict you have faced?" Which you can provide for specific situations include the following:

I actively readjusted my position during a conflict situation. This means that I strive to listen to the other person's point of view without becoming defensive. I'm also trying to move the confrontation to a private space to avoid further complications.

I was working as a project manager on an IT project, and one of the technicians was constantly getting late. When I approached him about it, he reacted defensively. I kept calm and admitted that the deadlines were tough and asked how I could help him improve his performance. He calmed down and told me that he was involved in another project where he would have to do tasks that were not in his job description. After a meeting with the other project manager, we came to a decision that eased the technician's workload. For the rest of the project the technician did a great job.

In some cases, I have felt it necessary to express my opinion when I disagree with a president and it has already proved constructive. For example, a former manager's unfriendly behavior had a negative impact on my work, and I began to lose motivation and job satisfaction. At last I asked to meet and told him, in a calm and polite manner, how I felt. To my surprise he told me that he is having difficulty in his personal life and is not coping well. Then, make an effort to be less critical, and more understanding.

Dealing with conflict is never easy, but making sure it is addressed quickly is the key to success. A few months ago, I was leading a large team of developers who were tasked with solving a bug in some software we were designing for a client. Another software team was working on a parallel program that was ultimately meant to interfere with ours. At one point, a senior member of Team Two sent out an email accusing my team of deliberately sabotaging their software so they could have extra time to finish their work. Instead of sending him a retaliatory email and escalating the conflict further, I invited him to lunch. We sat down and talked about a couple of programs we're developing, and I had him guide me through his project and how it works. Then I showed him what we were doing and how the two programs would eventually overlap. During the process, we realized that our work had set his team back, but it was just the result of the testing process we were doing. Once he realized it was an accident and in no way malicious, he relaxed, and proceeded to make a schedule that would allow us to test our end without stopping to work on our end. Now when we're working on parallel software, I make a point to look up other senior managers and discuss game plans before we start programming.

I like to inform myself of different cultures, opinions and viewpoints. I deeply appreciate the diversity of beauty it brings to the world, and I am always striving to learn more about how to inform and support other communities.

I was running the creation of our new corporate brochure and the deadline was very tight because we had to print the brochures in time for a big upcoming trade show. I was responsible for on-time delivery and had to manage team members from marketing, sales, graphic design and product management. The designer assigned to the project was very talented, but unfortunately missed the deadline I had set. When I approached him about it, he blew in my face.

I'm not a big fan of conflict. For me conflict means stress and I definitely don't handle stress well. The best way for me to deal with conflict and stress is to just isolate myself. At my last job, there was so much disagreement between my co-workers that I ended up moving my office downstairs by the boiler. It was hot, but at least it was calm in the end.

See: Interview Question “Which Work Environment Do You Prefer?”

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