Interview 37: A Challenge Or Conflict At Work

For the best result, make sure you have read this article and already have a write-up of your answer prior to your Cambly session. You can send a longer text to your tutor through Cambly’s messaging system.

This following content has been modified from LiveCareer. See the original article here.


Guideline

Read the following text with your tutor. 

What the Hiring Manager Is Really Asking…

This is actually one of the better interview questions asked, both for the interviewee and the interviewer, and there are a couple of reasons why:

  1. It’s a solid, basic, open-ended question that an interviewer can ask any candidate.
  2. When asked properly, the question can surprise candidates, as opposed to other questions which are easier to anticipate and prepare answers for.
  3. It allows the interviewer to get a handle on how a candidate responds in a situation that doesn’t have a clear, easy, yes-or-no answer.
  4. When an interviewer gets a handle on this, they then know how a candidate will most likely respond to unforeseen challenges and difficult situations in the role they’re interviewing for.

Activities

Go over the following points with your tutors. 

  • Why do you think it’s beneficial to talk about something that gave you trouble in an interview?
  • What do you think the interviewer is looking for in this question?

Guideline

Read the following text with your tutor. 

The Best Way to Respond

One straightforward way to respond to interview questions about difficult situations at work is to use the STAR technique.

  • Situation/Task: Describe the challenging situation/task that you needed to deal with.
  • Action: What action(s) did you take to remedy things? Be specific.
  • Results: What were the results of your action(s)? What would have happened if you hadn’t reacted that way?

While following this simple formula, you’ll also want to focus on aspects related to your reasoning, integrity, or initiative, or your ability to reach out to superiors when you don’t know the answer. For example:

  • Talking about an ethical dilemma in which you chose to act with integrity.
  • Discussing your initiative in tackling a difficult situation to a positive end.
  • Discussing how you worked through a dilemma and found a solution.

Activities

Go over the following points with your tutors. 

  • What are the benefits of answering this question with the STAR technique?
  • Think of a few instances where you handled a difficult situation
  • Write a response for this using STAR

Guideline

Read the following text with your tutor. 

Mistakes You Should Avoid

If you haven’t thought this question through ahead of time (and you really should), there’s a good chance that you may not be able to think of something off the top of your head. Here are some things to avoid speaking about when answering this question.

  • Don’t speak poorly of former or current companies or co-workers.
  • Don’t be self-focused to the point of discussing yourself in a superior light.
  • Avoid discussing your own shortcomings . . . unless you also mention your growth.
  • Don’t choose a situation that isn’t job-related unless you have no work experience.

Your potential employer wants to know that you can effectively work through a difficult situation on the job, so be sure to avoid a self-deprecating attitude. While people love self-deprecating humor in real life, the short time span of a job interview really isn’t the time for it. Take the question seriously, and answer it seriously.

If the interviewer asks about a situation you’ve never had to deal with, it’s okay to say so, but they can then easily change the question to “How WOULD you deal with a difficult situation like that?” In other words, they can switch from the historical to the hypothetical, which makes the question a lot harder all of a sudden.

With that in mind, the best follow-up response would be to say “That’s never happened to me, but if that kind of situation did come up, here’s how I would handle it . . . .” And from there, you apply the STAR technique.

Activities

Go over the following points with your tutors. 

  • How did handling that situation make you a better employee?
  • Was there anything you felt that you could have improved upon? What steps have you taken to do so?
  • How does the way you handle difficult situations make you uniquely qualified for this job?

Guideline

Read the following text with your tutor. 

Sample Answer

“During a summer session I had a student who was writing rude, offensive notes on student papers during peer grading assignments. I arranged a meeting with the student, and had my principal attend too, as a witness. I calmly yet firmly informed the student that the types of comments she was providing weren’t helpful—that they were in fact detrimental. From there, the three of us had a fruitful discussion on the types of comments that work best on student papers. In the end, the student walked away with a solid understanding of how to provide constructive, non-offensive feedback to other students.”

“Late one Friday afternoon at my last job, a client called with an urgent question about the project we were working on for them. My boss usually handles all client contact directly, but he had already left for the weekend. I explained the situation to the client, and said that although I might not know the exact answer to the question, that I was also working on the project and might be able to help. That was good enough for the client, and while it was true that I didn’t have the answer immediately, we were able to work through it together fairly quickly, and the client got off the call assured that they wouldn’t need to worry about the issue over the weekend. I also left a note for my boss about the call, so that he could check with the client on his return on Monday morning.”

PS: If you’re still struggling with getting calls back for interviews, LiveCareer can help. Put our resume builder or resume examples to use and craft a top-notch resume in no time at all. Also consider our cover letter builder if you’re stuck on how to best craft one that complements your resume.

Activities

Go over the following points with your tutors. 

  • Write the first draft of your answer with your tutor.
  • Are there any words or phrases that you are not comfortable pronouncing?
  • Now rehearse with your tutor until you are comfortable answering the question without the script.

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