10 good Conflict Management Interview Questions:
- Tell me about a time you disagreed with a coworker’s idea on a project you were both working on together. How did you express your opposition, and what happened?
- What would you do if your manager gave you negative feedback on the way you approached a problem?
- How do you handle conflicts within your team?
- How do you deal with angry customers who complain about your products/services?
- Have you ever had a team member who kept raising objections on projects? How did you manage them?
- How would you advise a team member who complained about a coworker’s behavior?
- Have you ever faced a conflict of interest during a cross-departmental project? What did you do?
- You’ve noticed that a team member is aggressive or arrogant toward the rest of the team. How would you approach this person?
- How would you react if a coworker blamed you for something that wasn’t entirely your fault (e.g., missing a deadline) during a meeting?
- How do you prioritize collaboration and teamwork when faced with individual goals and targets?
1. Tell me about a time you disagreed with a coworker’s idea on a project you were both working on together. How did you express your opposition, and what happened?
This question assesses the candidate’s ability to handle disagreements professionally, express their viewpoints effectively, and find a resolution.
“In a recent project, I disagreed with a coworker’s idea regarding the approach we should take. To express my opposition, I scheduled a meeting with the coworker and shared my concerns, presenting alternative solutions based on my analysis. We engaged in a constructive discussion, considering each other’s perspectives, and eventually reached a compromise that combined the best elements of both ideas. The collaboration led to a successful outcome and strengthened our working relationship.”
2. What would you do if your manager gave you negative feedback on the way you approached a problem?
This question examines the candidate’s receptiveness to feedback, their ability to handle criticism constructively, and their willingness to learn and improve.
“If my manager provided negative feedback on my problem-solving approach, I would listen attentively and seek clarification to gain a better understanding of their concerns. I would express gratitude for the feedback and ask for specific examples or suggestions for improvement. I believe in taking ownership of my actions, so I would take the opportunity to reflect on the feedback, analyze areas for growth, and proactively implement changes to enhance my problem-solving skills.”
3. How do you handle conflicts within your team?
This question evaluates the candidate’s approach to resolving conflicts, their ability to promote open communication, and their skills in building consensus within a team.
“When conflicts arise within my team, I prioritize open and respectful communication. I encourage team members to express their perspectives and concerns openly, ensuring that everyone feels heard. I then facilitate constructive discussions where we identify the root causes of conflicts and work together to find mutually agreeable solutions. By fostering a collaborative environment and promoting active listening, I aim to build consensus, strengthen relationships, and maintain a positive team dynamic.”
4. How do you deal with angry customers who complain about your products/services?
This question assesses the candidate’s customer service skills, their ability to handle difficult situations, and their approach to resolving customer complaints.
“When faced with an angry customer who complains about our products/services, I remain calm and empathetic. I actively listen to their concerns, allowing them to express their frustrations fully. I acknowledge their feelings and assure them that I am committed to finding a resolution. I then gather all the necessary information, offer potential solutions, and seek their input on how best to address their concerns. By demonstrating empathy and providing personalized assistance, I aim to turn a negative experience into a positive one, ensuring customer satisfaction.”
5. Have you ever had a team member who kept raising objections on projects? How did you manage them?
This question examines the candidate’s ability to handle team dynamics, address differing opinions, and foster collaboration.
“In a previous project, I had a team member who consistently raised objections. To manage this situation, I initiated one-on-one conversations with the team member to understand their perspective and concerns better. I actively listened to their objections and provided them with opportunities to contribute their ideas and suggestions during team meetings. I also emphasized the importance of considering different viewpoints and encouraged them to present their objections in a constructive manner. By promoting open dialogue and respecting their opinions, we were able to find common ground and enhance the overall quality of our projects.”
6. How would you advise a team member who complained about a coworker’s behavior?
This question assesses the candidate’s interpersonal skills, their ability to mediate conflicts, and their approach to maintaining a positive work environment.
“If a team member complained about a coworker’s behavior, I would address the issue promptly and privately. I would listen attentively to their concerns, validate their feelings, and emphasize the importance of maintaining a positive work environment. I would encourage the team member to address their concerns directly with the coworker, providing guidance on effective communication techniques and conflict resolution strategies. Additionally, I would offer my support in facilitating a conversation between the team member and the coworker to find a resolution that benefits both parties and promotes a harmonious work environment.”
7. Have you ever faced a conflict of interest during a cross-departmental project? What did you do?
This question examines the candidate’s ability to navigate conflicts of interest, make informed decisions, and prioritize the organization’s objectives.
“During a cross-departmental project, I encountered a conflict of interest between two departments. To address this, I initiated open communication with the respective stakeholders, expressing the concerns and goals of both sides. I facilitated collaborative discussions to find a solution that aligned with the project’s objectives and minimized the conflict. By emphasizing the shared goals of the organization and seeking win-win outcomes, we were able to reach a mutually beneficial resolution that preserved the project’s progress and fostered positive working relationships between the departments involved.”
8. You’ve noticed that a team member is aggressive or arrogant toward the rest of the team. How would you approach this person?
This question assesses the candidate’s ability to address negative behavior, promote a positive work environment, and facilitate difficult conversations.
“If I noticed a team member displaying aggression or arrogance towards others, I would address the issue promptly and privately. I would approach the individual with empathy and express my concerns about their behavior, highlighting the impact it has on the team and work environment. I would encourage open dialogue, allowing them to share their perspective while emphasizing the importance of respect and collaboration within the team. By offering constructive feedback and suggesting alternative ways of interacting, I aim to foster a more inclusive and supportive team dynamic.”
9. How would you react if a coworker blamed you for something that wasn’t entirely your fault (e.g., missing a deadline) during a meeting?
This question examines the candidate’s ability to handle personal accusations professionally, maintain composure, and find constructive solutions to resolve conflicts.
“If a coworker blamed me for something that wasn’t entirely my fault during a meeting, I would remain calm and composed. I would actively listen to their accusations, seeking to understand their perspective. Instead of responding defensively, I would take a collaborative approach, acknowledging any mistakes I might have made while clarifying the aspects that were beyond my control. I would propose a constructive discussion to identify solutions and prevent similar situations in the future. By focusing on problem-solving and maintaining a professional approach, I aim to promote understanding and maintain a positive working relationship.”
10. How do you handle conflicts within your team?
This question evaluates the candidate’s approach to resolving conflicts within a team setting, their ability to promote open communication, and their strategies for maintaining a harmonious work environment.
“When faced with conflicts within my team, I believe in addressing them promptly and directly. I encourage open and honest communication among team members, providing a safe space for everyone to express their concerns and viewpoints. I would facilitate a meeting where each party can share their perspective and actively listen to understand the underlying issues. I would then work towards finding a collaborative solution that considers everyone’s needs and fosters a sense of unity and understanding. By promoting respectful dialogue, encouraging compromise, and focusing on the team’s common goals, conflicts can be resolved in a constructive manner.”
Why you should test candidates’ conflict management skills
Employees with conflict management skills work through arguments, complaints and differences of opinion constructively. These employees are able to:
- Resolve issues that arise among team members quickly
- Handle complaints from customers
- Foster healthy work relationships
- Raise objections in a professional manner
It’s essential to test candidates’ conflict-resolution skills, particularly for:
Here are some sample conflict management interview questions to ask candidates during your hiring process:
Tips to assess candidates’ conflict management skills in interviews
- Ask candidates to explain in detail how they’ve dealt with disagreements in the past. Hire people who think conflicts through before confronting a coworker.
- Empathy and listening skills are indicators of an individual who handles conflicts professionally. These people are valuable team members, as they manage to keep their coworkers calm.
- Good conflict management skills go hand-in-hand with solid communication abilities. Candidates who clearly express themselves and keep a pleasant discussion during interviews are more likely to resolve issues that arise at work.
- Use behavioral questions that demonstrate how candidates interact in team environments. Opt for people who prioritize collaboration and maintain the team’s balance.
- If the role requires communication with clients, consider adding a role-playing activity to your interview process. You’ll be able to simulate job duties and test candidates’ abilities to resolve issues.
- Even if candidates describe negative experiences, it’s important to see what lessons they’ve learned. Look for people who don’t take things personally and understand the importance of being patient.
- They focus on minor disagreements. If your candidates reveal that they turn each disagreement into a conflict, they might struggle listening to different opinions.
- They cause conflicts. If the reason behind conflicts is your candidates’ poor communication or collaboration skills, that’s a sign they’re not good team players.
- They seem uncomfortable. Certain roles, like salespeople, will often come across conflicts at work. Candidates who get stressed while describing such situations mightn’t be suitable for these positions.
- They give generic answers. Generic answers that don’t describe specific situations won’t tell you much about candidates’ conflict management skills (e.g. “I face conflicts all the time at work, but I manage to stay calm and resolve the issue.”)
- They are unprofessional. Candidates who blame others and bad-mouth coworkers, managers and clients lack professionalism and may not be the most empathetic future hires.
- They avoid conflicts altogether. Problems escalate when conflicts are swept under the rug. Candidates should be confident enough to tactfully disagree with coworkers or managers, when necessary.
Further reading: The best interview questions to ask candidates (and how to evaluate answers).