Questions in the conflict interview (with examples) | Big interview (2023)

Updated for 2022:Conflicting interview questions are among the most common interview behavior questions asked by hiring managers.

The aim is to find out how you can deal with conflicts, be it with colleagues or bosses, and how to manage and maintain interpersonal relationships in the workplace.

What is a conflict?

A conflict is a clash of interests, ideas, perceptions, or feelings that can create a great deal of disharmony and hard feelings.

In the workplace, as in other areas of life, it is difficult to deal with conflict; it can cause a lot of tension, distrust and disruption.

Some sort of conflict is inevitable when there is more than one person in the same room, especially when they share a common goal. Some of your coworkers, bosses, and/or clients will prove to be... well, difficult to work with. Differences of opinion are inevitable.

It is important to know how to solve conflicts professionally, peacefully and constructively. This is particularly true in certain professions (project management, customer service, law) and in certain corporate cultures.

Therefore, conflict interview questions are asked to review your experience andhow to deal with difficult situations.

Frequently asked questions in conflict interviews

  • Tell me about a team project where you had to work with a difficult person.
  • Tell me about a time when you had a conflict at work.
  • Give an example of how you had to react to an unhappy person
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a rule or approach.
  • Describe a situation in which you disagreed with the manager.
  • How do you deal with conflicts? Give me an example.
  • Tell me about a challenge or conflict you faced at work and how you dealt with it.

Notice how each question begins with "Tell me about...'',"Give me an example of a time..."or"Describe a situation in which..."? That means that's allbehavioral questions about conflicts.

behavioral issuesInquirespecial situationsin which you were showna specific ability or behaviorthat is relevant to the position you are applying for. In this case it is conflict management.

I recently conducted an interview skills workshop for managers in a large company. The issue of conflict behavior questions came up (this large multinational mainly uses behavior questions when interviewing candidates).

A manager shared a memorable response"How would you handle a conflict at work?"A new candidate replied:"I would invite this person to meet me in the parking lot after work and work this out man-to-man."

Guess what? He didn't get the job. But here's how he could have responded instead.

(Video) CONFLICT-RESOLUTION Interview Questions & ANSWERS!

How to answer questions in conflict interviews

Questions about conflict may surprise you because no one likes to talk about conflict at work. Also, you'd probably prefer to pretend you're an absolute pleasure to work with and that no one has ever said an unkind word about you.

But you have a less than happy situation to talk about. It can be difficult to come up with a good example on the fly—and even harder to describe a conflict concisely and in a way that puts you in a favorable light.

For this reason, it is important to prepare a sample in STAR format in advance.

STERNstands forSituation,task,Plot, andResults. It tells a story from start to finish and showcases your skills.

ImSituationpart, you want to set the context, which in this case is a conflict that involves you and other people.taskis there to communicate what you needed to do - find a way to successfully resolve the conflict.Plotdescribes how exactly you did it, andResults, well ... it is clear. Pro tip: Make the action part 60-80% of the answer. This is because recruiters want to know every detail about how you did your job, how you communicated, what strategies you used, and the like.

Also, for a detailed answer and strong storytelling, we recommend writing down the key points and then practicing.

In our softwareBig interviewwe have developed a tool specifically for creating your STAR interview responses. We call it theResponse Generator.

Once you've logged into your Big Interview Dashboard, you'll be able to navigate"exercise"Area and choose from four different exercise options:Practice interviews, interview roulette, question library and answer generator.

Questions in the conflict interview (with examples) | Big interview (1)

After selecting the Answer Builder, you will be taken to a screen that allows you to step through itSTERNFormat step by step and carefully present your answer.

Questions in the conflict interview (with examples) | Big interview (2)
You can choose which competency area to create responses for, name your STAR stories, and receive guidance in creating your responses.

Questions in the conflict interview (with examples) | Big interview (3)

Remember that the goal is not to formulate an answer word for word. The STAR format allows you to structure the general form of your answer by noting bullet points for each of the key aspects of the story.

When you feel confident with your STAR answers, it's time to start practicing!

Return to the dashboard and navigate back to"exercise"Tab Select“Practice Talks”.


Questions in the conflict interview (with examples) | Big interview (4)

From here you can choose what type of interview you want to practice. Because we are discussing behavioral interview questions that demonstrate competencies, we choose “CCompetence/Competence"to practice our STAR answers.

Questions in the conflict interview (with examples) | Big interview (5)

Now you can choose which skill you want to practice.

Questions in the conflict interview (with examples) | Big interview (6)

After you have selected your competency question set, you will be taken to the exercise area. A pre-recorded interviewer will ask you a series of questions related to your chosen competency. You have the opportunity to practice your answers using your STAR bullet points as notes.

Keep practicing until you can seamlessly give a full answer without referencing your notes.

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Once you've mastered your answers, navigate to"My videos"Tab where you will find all your recordings.

From here you can send your video to trusted friends and mentors for review.Get AI feedback, or simply review and rate yourself.

Questions in the conflict interview (with examples) | Big interview (8)

example answers

Now that we've covered the process of creating a perfect answer to conflict interview questions, let's look at some examples.

Conflict Example Answer #1

S/T (Situation/Task)

Briefly describe the conflict that arose. Provide just enough background information for context.

(Video) RESOLVING CONFLICT Interview Question and Answer (CONFLICT RESOLUTION)

  • I was leading the creation of our new company brochure and we had a very tight deadline as we needed to get the brochures printed in time for a major upcoming trade show.
  • I was responsible for on-time delivery and had to manage the team members from marketing, sales, graphic design and product management.
  • The designer assigned to the project was very talented but unfortunately missed a deadline I set. When I asked him about it, he exploded at me.

Why we like it

These bullet points provide good context - it was an important and complex project with a tight deadline. The designer not only missed a deadline, but threw a fit when asked to do so. This is a real conflict with a colleague that, if handled poorly, could have led to disaster.

Tip:Don't get bogged down in unnecessary details. The interviewer doesn't need to know anything about the brochure's color scheme, the history of the show, or the designer's odd wardrobe choices.

A (Actions)

Talk about the main actions you took. In the case of a history of conflict, the focus should be on how to resolve the disagreement in a professional and productive manner.

  • I was taken aback by his answer, but I stayed calm. Acknowledging that the deadlines were tight, I reiterated the rationale and importance of having the brochure ready for the show.
  • He relaxed a little when he saw that I wasn't attacking him. He told me about all his other competing projects and how blown away he was. I asked him if there was anything I could do to help him find a solution.
  • Finally, we agreed that it would be helpful if his manager had a better understanding of how important and time-consuming this project was. We decided to talk to her together.
  • She ended up commissioning some of his other projects with a different designer, which took some of the pressure off of him.

Why we like it

This candidate walks us through the actions taken and why. He shows that he remained calm under pressure, took the issue head on and was able to convince others (the designer and his manager) of his point of view.

Tip:Again, stick to the actions that are most relevant and demonstrate your conflict management skills.

R (Results)

Every good interview story has a happy ending. End your response with a description of the positive results of your action. These results can be quantifiable(20% increase in sales, saving the company $25,000)or anecdotally(Client loved it and emailed my manager, my manager loved my approach and gave me a promotion).

  • This allowed the designer to focus on the brochure and meet deadlines.
  • He apologized for his explosion and thanked me for my help.
  • We successfully completed the brochure in time for the show and received numerous compliments from both our own sales force and potential customers.
  • Our presence at the show resulted in $300,000 in new sales leads and I believe the new brochure has played a key role in that.

Why we like it

That's a nice, concise happy ending. The candidate describes the resolution of the conflict, the positive impact on the relationship with the designer and the bottom line.

Tip:The end results ($$$) make it even more impressive. This is not possible with every conflict resolution story, but you should always choose the example with the most significant results.

Conflict Example Answer #2

S/T (Situation and Task)

  • I led a team of content writers. We had a young writer on our team.
  • He really wanted to study and participate in team projects, but he kept getting proofreading assignments from our colleague from another team, which took up a lot of time. It goes without saying that these duties were not relevant to his role and were not considered in his performance reviews.
  • He began missing deadlines for tasks that were important to him and became frustrated with the colleague who constantly assigned the proofreading assignments. It was time for me to get up and resolve the situation.
(Video) Conflict Interview Questions with Answer Examples

Why we like it

The bullet points provide enough context without going into too much detail. There is no need to talk about what exactly the projects involved and such.

A (Action)

  • I set up a meeting for the three of us: the young writer, the colleague who constantly assigned him assignments, and myself.
  • I told our colleague that I understand that she is too busy and cannot proofread the materials herself. But I also told her that our junior writer had some goals to achieve in order to successfully complete his probationary period and he didn't have time to work on it because he was too busy proofreading. Still, he didn't feel comfortable setting boundaries and declining these tasks.
  • The colleague felt uncomfortable; She apologized and said she wasn't aware that the junior writer had a lot of work on other projects. She said she kept hiring him because she thought he had nothing else to do.
  • This is where I realized that this might be my fault for not clearly communicating our goals and the author's workload. I apologized, explained the situation, and suggested that she reduce the amount of work she was sending the author.
  • I came up with a plan: She would send in a few tasks each week that the author could complete in 2-3 hours. No more, no less.

Why we like it

Notice that the "Action" section is longer than the "Situation/Task" section? That's because recruiters are more interested in learning details about how the conflict was resolved. Feel free to go into more detail in this section and keep the others shorter.

R (Results)

  • Our collaborator from another department still had help, but with limited time on her assignments, the junior writer had more time to work on projects directly related to his KPIs.
  • He successfully passed his probationary period.
  • I started communicating more clearly with other departments we worked with because I wanted to avoid this situation in the future.
  • Overall, we all realized how important communication is.

Why we like it

A triple happy ending. The conflict has been resolved, a new strategy put in place so everyone can be successful in their roles, and an important lesson learned about clear communication.

More tips & tricks

Here are other things to consider when framing your response to conflict interview questions.

1. Choose good conflict examples:

  • Choose an example that shows how you actively approach the resolution of an important conflict, e.g. B. a real conflict with a colleague or a conflict with a manager.
  • Be precise. Don't give a generic answer like, "I deal with conflict all the time and I've learned to keep calm and that communication is key." It's boring and doesn't answer the question.
  • Do not choose a minor disagreement (“He didn't want Italian for lunch’) or a conflict that was resolved by someone else or just disappeared without direct action. The idea here is to show off your interpersonal skills andproblem solving ability.
  • Avoid examples that might make you look bad. For example, don't share a time when your mistake or miscommunication CAUSED a conflict.

2. Get specific information about your conflict resolution measures

  • The most memorable and compelling stories contain enough detail to paint a picture. Show why this conflict was important and that you managed it competently.
  • However, you have to try to keep the story short. It's very easy to get carried away on tangents (especially if you haven't prepared in advance). Stay focused.
  • Stick to bullet points. Don't try to memorize a script.

3. Practice

  • Take the time to practice telling your story. This is especially important when telling a story about conflict.
  • Conflict often leads to arguments, problems, and damaged or broken professional relationships. You want to feel confident discussing the sensitive details in a way that gets your points across.
  • To feel 100% ready and confident when submitting your answer, we recommendpractice before, as much as you can.

Your future awaits you, good luck!


Need help? There are two ways we can help you:


1. Learn how to turn more interviews into jobshere. (Rated 4.9/5 out of 1,000,000 users)
2. Learn how to successfully negotiate a better salary. (Take a free taster lessonhere)


What is the best answer for conflict interview question? ›

The key to answering workplace conflict interview questions is to be honest and emphasize communication and conflict resolution skills. If you realized during the conflict that your opinion was wrong, be honest about it! Show the interviewer that you're willing to learn and are open to constructive criticism.

What is an example of conflict in an interview question? ›

Common Conflict Interview Questions

Tell me about a team project when you had to work with someone difficult. Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work. manager/customer/colleague. Tell me about a time that you disagreed with a rule or approach.

How do you deal with conflict in the workplace interview answer? ›

Remember these three steps and you'll be well on your way to thoroughly impressing your interviewer:
  1. Context: Describe the workplace issue briefly and set the scene for a relevant example.
  2. Action: Explain the actions you took to address the conflict. ...
  3. Result: Detail the outcome of your action.
Jul 11, 2022

How do you answer interview question Tell me about a time you had a conflict? ›

Quickly describe the problem or goal without criticizing others. Focus on the solution and what specific steps you took to collaboratively solve the problem. Your story should communicate how you used your emotional intelligence skills to listen, empathize, compromise, and build the relationship.

What are 3 tips to resolving conflict? ›

Some Ways to Resolve Conflicts
  1. Talk directly. Assuming that there is no threat of physical violence, talk directly to the person with whom you have the problem. ...
  2. Choose a good time. ...
  3. Plan ahead. ...
  4. Don't blame or name-call. ...
  5. Give information. ...
  6. Listen. ...
  7. Show that you are listening. ...
  8. Talk it all through.

What are the 3 main responses to conflict? ›

When we are faced with animosity or conflict, there are four typical ways we respond:
  • Fight: You react instantly without giving much thought to your actions or the consequences. ...
  • Flight: You back away and avoid the conflict. ...
  • Freeze: You back off. ...
  • Face: You are open to resolving the conflict calmly and productively.

What are 5 examples of conflict? ›

5 Types of Conflict
  • Man vs. Self. This type of conflict is usually caused by something external — but the battle itself takes place within. ...
  • Man vs. Man. ...
  • Man vs. Nature. ...
  • Man vs. Society. ...
  • Man vs. Supernatural.
Sep 14, 2021

Can you give me an example of conflict? ›

1. Wars. War is one of the most extreme examples of conflict. Wars can disrupt the lives of millions of people and lead to death on a large scale.

How do you handle conflict with coworkers can you give us an example? ›

How to Handle Conflict in the Workplace
  1. Talk with the other person. ...
  2. Focus on behavior and events, not on personalities. ...
  3. Listen carefully. ...
  4. Identify points of agreement and disagreement. ...
  5. Prioritize the areas of conflict. ...
  6. Develop a plan to work on each conflict. ...
  7. Follow through on your plan. ...
  8. Build on your success.
Jan 5, 2018

What are 5 strategies you can use to resolve conflict? ›

The Top 5 Conflict Resolution Strategies
  • Don't Ignore Conflict. ...
  • Clarify What the Issue Is. ...
  • Bring Involved Parties Together to Talk. ...
  • Identify a Solution. ...
  • Continue to Monitor and Follow Up on the Conflict.

What is your greatest strength when dealing with conflict? ›

Emotional Intelligence

This skill is essential when managing conflict because it prevents the situation from escalating. If you can effectively interpret your opposition's emotions, it'll be easier to communicate with them without provoking them.

How to deal with a difficult coworker interview question answer example? ›

“I would deal with a difficult co-worker by first making sure I wasn't contributing to the situation in a negative way. I would then sit down with them in private to find an amicable way forward. I would find out what was important to them.

How do you answer Tell me about a time you had to manage conflicting priorities? ›

How to answer the conflicting priorities interview question
  1. Explain how you plan your day. ...
  2. Describe how you adjust priorities. ...
  3. Talk about how you meet deadlines. ...
  4. Describe how you manage work-life balance. ...
  5. Connect your answers to the task's requirements.
Jul 5, 2022

How do you handle conflict? ›

Tips for Managing Conflict
  1. Accept conflict. Remember that conflict is natural and happens in every ongoing relationship. ...
  2. Be a calming agent. ...
  3. Listen actively. ...
  4. Analyze the conflict. ...
  5. Model neutral language. ...
  6. Separate the person from the problem. ...
  7. Work together. ...
  8. Agree to disagree.

What are the five steps to avoid conflict? ›

Here are some tips for how to stop conflict before it starts.
  1. Know your conflict style. When you have a disagreement with someone, what do you do? ...
  2. Form connections with others. Strengthening your relationships with others can help with preventing conflict. ...
  3. Communicate effectively. ...
  4. Reach out for help.
Apr 10, 2019

How do you resolve conflict between two team members? ›

Ensure team members listen to one another, respect each other's points of view, and refrain from interrupting each other. Never take sides. Your role is to help the team members address the issues causing the conflict and reach a resolution that works well for them.

What are 4 ways to resolve conflict? ›

4 steps To resolve Conflict: CARE
  • Communicate. Open communication is key in a dispute. ...
  • Actively Listen. Listen to what the other person has to say, without interrupting. ...
  • Review Options. Talk over the options, looking for solutions that benefit everyone. ...
  • End with a Win-Win Solution.
Mar 13, 2017

What is the most important key to resolving a conflict? ›

The key to resolving conflict within an organization is the ability to listen. Each side should have the option to explain its role in the conflict and then listen to others involved. Generally, you can determine where the breakdown in communication occurred just by listening to all sides in the conflict.

What are some examples of conflict in the workplace? ›

Here are a few examples of conflict in the workplace, and ways to combat them for a more productive workspace
  • Company culture. Companies, within reason, have a right to their own opinions and policies. ...
  • Personality clashes. ...
  • Leadership style. ...
  • Miscommunication. ...
  • Physical confrontation. ...
  • Point of view. ...
  • Absenteeism.
Aug 31, 2021

What is an example of a conflict situation in a workplace? ›

Bullying, Discrimination or Harassment

Bullying, discrimination and harassment are much more serious examples of conflict situations in the workplace. Complaints about discrimination or harassment may center around gender, age, disability, religion or national origin.

What are 3 common causes of conflict? ›

What causes conflict?
  • Information – Something was missing, incomplete or ambiguous.
  • Environment – Something in the environment leads to the conflict.
  • Skills – People lack the appropriate skills for doing their work.
  • Values – A clash of personal values leads to conflict.
May 22, 2021

What is a conflict give one example? ›

A dispute with one's boss or other team members over a plan of action to be followed, such as the marketing strategy for a new product, is an example of substantive conflict. When people work together every day, it is only normal that different viewpoints on a variety of substantive workplace issues will arise.

What is an example of conflict in a team? ›

When one person on the team doesn't complete their part of the task, it can affect another team member's ability to finish their part on time. For example, if an employee always turns in their reports late, it causes the accountant to be late with their reports as well.

What are the 7 main types of conflict? ›

The seven most common types of conflict in literature are:
  • Character vs. Character(s)
  • Character vs. Society.
  • Character vs. Nature.
  • Character vs. Technology.
  • Character vs. Supernatural.
  • Character vs. Fate.
  • Character vs. Self.
Oct 15, 2019

What are three examples of conflict? ›

Different types of conflict — including task conflict, relationship conflict, and value conflict—can benefit from different approaches to conflict resolution. In the workplace, it sometimes seems as if some types of conflict are always with us.

What is an example of a difficult coworker interview question? ›

Give me an example of working with others where you did not agree. How well do you work with people who are different from you? Tell me about someone who has been difficult for you to work with in your job. What has been the most difficult situation for you to deal with in your current team?

Why should we hire you? ›

Your skills and qualifications. If you can prove that you've got all the skills that the company is looking for in a candidate, you'll have effectively answered the question. Your passion and motivation. You can highlight how good of a company fit you'd be and how much you love working in your field or industry.

What is your 3 greatest strength? ›

Here are some examples of strengths you could mention.
  • Enthusiasm.
  • Creative thinking.
  • Task prioritization.
  • Discipline.
  • Determination.
  • Analytical thinking.
  • Communication skills.
  • Dedication.
Jan 4, 2023

Can you give an example of a time when you had to cope with a difficult situation? ›

Some examples of situations you can discuss include: A time when you dealt with a lot of customer complaints and how you rectified the issue. A time when you had to work long hours to meet a deadline. A time when you had to deal with a difficult colleague when working on a project.

How would you resolve a conflict with a difficult coworker? ›

How to handle a conflict with a coworker
  1. Keep the issue to yourself. ...
  2. Don't postpone addressing the problem. ...
  3. Keep a positive outlook. ...
  4. Discuss the matter in person. ...
  5. Talk calmly. ...
  6. Get right to the point. ...
  7. Try to find things you agree on. ...
  8. Listen to their point of view.
May 25, 2021

How do you handle situations where you disagree very strongly about something with a co worker? ›

Be professional, polite, and respectful, keeping the disagreement impersonal and your emotions intact. Practice reflective skills by listening to your coworker, seeing their point of view, and repeating back to them their main points. Find a shared outcome or common ground to make the disagreement less contentious.

How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations? ›

2. Commit to a Positive Attitude
  1. Decide what you can do. Pinpoint which parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. ...
  2. Get support. Find someone to talk to about your situation. ...
  3. Care for yourself. Take especially good care of yourself when stress in your life is high.

What is a conflict Statement example? ›

A man's girlfriend gets pregnant, but he isn't ready to be a father. A child blames himself for his parents' divorce. An old woman wishes to reconnect with her family but is slowly losing her memory. A woman wishes to travel the world but is too scared to leave her home.

What is an example of simple conflict? ›

For this example of simple conflict, one might try being proactive and suggest another restaurant, which you both enjoy, and the two of you have a wonderful lunch together. Pseudo Conflict (pseudo, meaning “fake” or “false”) is a misunderstanding in communication.

What is an example of conflict with a coworker? ›

Conflict can arise between coworkers when one one or both make poor first impressions. For example, a longtime employee might make a joke the new coworker finds offensive, resulting in tension and lacking responsiveness between the two.

What is a good example of conflict resolution? ›

Examples of Conflict Resolution Skills

Assertiveness by a supervisor who convenes a meeting between two employees who have engaged in a public dispute. Interviewing and active listening skills are utilized by a human resources representative to define the nature of a conflict between a supervisor and a subordinate.


1. Top 10 Interview Questions and Answers on Conflict Resolution for Project Managers
3. DEALING WITH CONFLICT Interview Questions & Answers! (How to ANSWER this tough Behavioral Question!)
4. How To Answer: Interview Questions On Resolving Conflict
5. How Do You Deal With Conflict? How To Answer Difficult Interview Question
(Career Coach - Ronan Kennedy)
6. Interview Question: "Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work."


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