How do you Handle Conflict Interview Questions?- How to Answer?

How do you Handle Conflict Interview Questions?

When we have two or more people in the room, we know we have arranged an environment for potential conflict. Today’s topic- How do you Handle Conflict Interview Questions?

Conflict is an inevitable part of life. One cannot run away from it or avoid them together. We live at threat constantly as no two people are the same, just as our five fingers are different. Every person has their unique way of thinking, living, and approaches to conflict situations. So, what is conflict? You may ask. When two or more people disagree on anything, this creates a tense atmosphere and results in conflicting ideas, opinions, values, and approaches, which creates an atmosphere of conflict. Conflicts may not always lead to an ugly situation, but they can rob us of peace and productivity.

Why does conflict happen?

It can happen because of a list of things, some of it is:-

  • Ego-centric behavior.
  • Lack of maturity in certain areas.
  • Apathy.
  • Unhealthy coping strategies, like using passive-aggressive behavior.
  • Insensitivity.
  • Lack of communication skills.

These are factors affecting its growth when they hire people with poor skills and attitude problems. A company has an interest in their conflict management approaches before they welcome them aboard. With conflict management, there is no one size fits all. Each one has a unique way of handling problems and charting out a solution. 

The most famous behavioral question of all time is the interview question: how do you handle conflict?

Companies ask such types of questions to see if the candidate is:-

  • Accommodating- we use this approach when there is a need for attention in a trivial situation but, if not handled, can turn ugly. 
  • The Avoiding approach:-to avoid- hitting the iron when hot applies here. We used this approach when it needed some cooling time.
  • Compromising- we call this approach the middle-ground approach. We use it when there is a deadline to meet and an urgent need for consensus.
  • The competing approach – we often used this in time-crunch circumstances. Here, the person in charge uses his might to decide an outcome.
  • Collaborating- we use this approach to preserve a relationship between all parties or need for a solution. It is a time-consuming one, as considering the desire of everyone and reaching a consensus based on that is a tough call. Collaborating requires a substantial amount of time and energy. Though this is the best one, collaboration takes a lot of effort but it is not feasible for quick solutions. It is the best one, though.

Do take this into account before you answer a conflict-management answer. Your answer can land you in the hiring process or make you lose your chance of getting in. 

How do you handle such a question, then? We adhere to it by following such as-

  • Recount the things you did to handle a particular situation in a healthy, mature way.
  • Learn to give answers that turn a conflict from vice to virtue.
  • Turning a negative situation into a positive one is one of the rewarding experiences we get from conflict management.

If handled with care:

  • It can bring birth to fresh ideas 
  • It can lead to new roles and visions.

How do you Handle Conflict Interview Questions?

Here are some examples of answering this famous behavioral question: how do you handle conflict? By using all the approaches mentioned above, the sample answer is ready below:-

  • There was this incident once I was on a deadline for a project. I could not afford to give my time at the moment. My ex-colleague got agitated towards me. After that, I was on the receiving end as I got the cold shoulder every time from then on. We caught off on the wrong foot. Our conflict was hampering the work environment; I approached her and told her I loved to clear the air between us. I explained to her my situation about the time she needed my help. She understood. We have had an amicable and understanding work relationship. It took me some humility to do that although, I would do it all over again. Seeing the result, I would say that it was all worth it.
  •  Our team had a deadline to meet for one of our clients. The ideas differed regarding the advertisement slogan of a particular product we were working on to launch. One of the teammates Wanted to put the advertisement idea forward, which the rest of the team did not agree, which made him angry. I had to make a firm decision. Being the head of the project, I went with the majority decision. It was a tough decision to make. But I am glad I took that route since this helped to finish our project on time.
  • When I was working as a restaurant manager, one employee had a habit of coming late. I observed it was happening more than usual. I tried to avoid it and give him time to mend his ways, but it was not happening, so I approached him and had that uncomfortable talk. But what I did not expect was that during the confrontation, he got all offensive and defensive. I maintained my composure throughout the discussion. I let him cool down a bit. It required patience, but I had to take this route. After a few days, he came around, and the best part is that I earned his respect because I handled it with ease. My patience paid off.
  • I worked with a boss once that often delegated work to me at the last minute. After trying to adjust for a while, this was not working out. I went up to my boss and addressed this issue that I was facing. I told him that delegating work at the last minute was making me panicky and affecting my creativity. My boss considered my case. After that small talk, the task assigned to me was at least a few hours early.
  •  While I was in a small consulting firm, I had a colleague who made others do her share of work. I was helpful by nature, so I was at the receiving end of it. I was going through an inner conflict and harboring resentment towards her that was unbecoming of me. I had to get rid of that negativity but did not want to damage our work- relationship. I went up to her. I told her about teamwork and how we expect each other to work together to move forward as a team. I assumed she understood, as, after that little talk, I had no more slack from her side.
  •  I used to work with a manager who had an unpleasant habit of micromanaging his subordinates. As his assistant, I was the most affected one. I tried to study his nature, and I learned he suffered from mild OCD. I understood my manager more after I knew that. It helped me use empathy for him. I made sure I did the stuff he asked me according to his preference which was getting things done before he asked for it helped in mending the situation.
  • I had to work in a small business establishment where there was no human resource department. This arrangement was alright for me until this incident. One day, a staff threw a fit at me because of some attendance issue. This person had been passive-aggressive towards me from the first day, as I had confronted him about his disrespectful behavior earlier, too. But this time was different. I had to take the matter to the owners since there was no human resource to look into the matter. I was even more shocked as I got a cold shoulder from the owners about the entire ordeal. The way they handled the conflict was enough for me to figure out my next step. I realized there is no time to waste and accept that some people will never change nor take constructive criticism. I found out from the conflict that I was serving an apathetic boss. Well, I completed my tenure with utmost sincerity and professionalism and resigned.
  • I joined an entry-level position many years ago in a company. I had a pretty good start in this company and got promoted earlier than expected. My promotion made me lose friendship with one of my close colleagues. She is no longer interested in continuing the friendship with me. I respect all decisions. Even though she no longer wished to be friends with me. I am okay with that. I take this approach every time I handle conflicts. Because of that, I never lose focus on whatever I am striving to do.
  •  I had a situation once where my boss would call up late at night or message me on my leave days and holidays. It was getting annoying. I spoke about it to her and had to ask if there was any reason for messaging me this late; I asked in a concerning way, which broke the tension between us. It seems she was going through some personal stuff. The talk made her aware of her behavior too, and she made necessary changes. 
  • There was once this situation in my previous workplace. My manager said that I needed to smile more. She told me I was too strict and uptight, making the people a little uncomfortable around me. I thanked my manager for pointing it out, as I could never have guessed it was a bad thing. Throughout my life, my background had me believing that being unfriendly and strict is a good thing. My manager did a huge favor to me by making me aware of that flaw. She used her moral obligation on me, which made me grow and become a better teammate. 
  •  As a project manager in a finance company where I was working, one accountant was always behind schedule, finishing his tasks and duties. When I approached him, he acted defensively. I kept calm throughout the ordeal and told him I understood the deadline was challenging. I extended my help in case he needed one. He calmed down after that and told me he was handling other tasks along with his present one. The shocking part was that his job description during his hiring did not mention those job descriptions that he was doing. I met with the other project manager and talked about it. We lessened his workload. It had a positive impact on him, and he delivered splendid work for the remaining projects.
  • In my previous job, I was the manager of a start-up company. We always had to manage in a slim budget which made us work on a limited supply of resources. This scarcity caused stress among the staff as they had to compete for resources. As a manager, it was my duty to do something about it. I got together with the head of the department. It brought a solution forth, at least for the urgent requirements. It lessened the tension to some extent.
  •  I had faced a racial conflict in my previous work. It was a daunting experience. This colleague of mine would make racial remarks in my presence every time. I had a talk with him about that and called out his behavior, but he will not budge. I was glad to have at least voiced my opinion. Later, I found out that the human resource department met up and discussed it. The vice-president called me in and told me they had fired him from the organization. I believe voicing out our opinions about such serious matters is necessary.
  • I got hired in a clerical position, but then I had to work in different job roles. They did not assign a clear job description which was confusing the office staff. It was getting difficult to work there. I approached the concerned person and told her my confusion about the job description and how it was causing stress. She looked at it. After that, I had no issue performing my task. I got awarded the best employee of the month, too.
  •  As a manager in a reputed establishment, I had to deal with two of my staff who had issues getting along. They both had their version of why they could not get along with each other. We sat for a meeting together to resolve it; it turns out they differed in their style of communication, which was causing them both to misunderstand each other. We had a fruitful meeting, and the conflict lessened after the intervention.
  •  I was working as a salesperson in a retail store when we had this promotional offer. You get a gift if you buy a product. We had a customer who kept asking for one more promotion gift; it was annoying, but I believe we have to serve the customers, so I gave him. It made his day. The best part is that he left a fantastic review on our social media page regarding our customer-centric attitude.
  •  As a sales associate in an electronics shop, I had to deal with customer complaints and queries. One day, a gentleman came quite disgruntled because of his mobile issues. He wanted a replacement, but it showed that its warranty policy had expired. I told him that the warranty was no longer working, he got all flared up and started shouting. I did give him a discount voucher instead to help him save some amount on the repair. He seemed pretty happy with that arrangement.
  •  I always had a situation in my previous job where the boss would leave me out in meetings or forget to include me in the discussion. I told my boss that I like to be included, as my inclusion is for the team is important. I asked him if I could be of any help to make this work. My approach to not getting all offensive and defensive helped me to ace it. I always try to take the high road and not place the blame game and wallow in self-pity, and this attitude helped me have a pleasant three solid years working in that place.
  • In a particular company where I worked, we had a close-knit team. After working there for some time, I got to know that the boss was a gossipy one. It was an eye-opener. I felt like I was in a conflict zone. I told her that it was disturbing the creativity because of all the gossip happening. I further said that the team brilliance is getting affected due to it. I did not point any finger while stating that but had to tell her that the environment needs some cleaning as it’s affecting productivity. I would enjoy working in this team if we could handle the issue and not gossip about each other, which were my exact words. I noticed a slight change in the workplace after that confrontation.

As we can see from all those examples, a good conflict-management tool can come in handy when such conflicts arise in the workplace. 

The above examples give us an idea of how to use those tools. Workplace conflicts can cause:- 

  • stress
  •  Lose our focus 
  • Cause health issues 
  • Hamper our creativity 

Therefore, we all need our conflict management tools sharpened and refreshed from time to time. One study showed that eighty -five percent of employees deal with conflict in their working lives, and it costs U.S. companies an estimated $359 billion. Conflict is normal. We cannot ignore it. The only way is to come up with innovative solutions to handle it. A good conflict resolution will bring the much-needed result. We need to know the tools and learn how to tackle them. Conflict-management tools help fight the inevitable conflicts lurking in our environment.

It is a necessary tool to have, if we want:

  • To Navigate our problems
  •  A healthier work environment
  •  Greater peace of mind
  •  To have increased creativity and productivity.

You need a healthy amount of conflict. It is even better if you know how to handle it as It helps to:-

  • Gain a better perspective
  • Birth of new ideas and visions 
  • Gain better work relationships 
  • Grow your professional career and earn an excellent reputation.
  • Look at conflict with love and not with disdain.

Here are some ways we can work it out:-

Master our emotional intelligence.

  • Observation skills.
  • Self-awareness. 
  • Practice impartiality. 
  • Focus on the bigger picture.
  • Adaptability 
  • Resilience 
  •  Listening skills. 
  •  Those non-verbal cues.

To see conflict as a healthy thing, we need a mindset shift. A new way of thinking needs to be adopted towards conflict by:- 

  • Accepting it whenever it occurs 
  • Make it a friend instead of an enemy.
  • Embrace it.
  • See it as an opportunity for growth. 


Gone are the days when we thought of conflict as a foe. Many studies support the evidence that we may require a good amount of conflict in our lives. It is healthy for the entire human population development. When conflict happens, taking these approaches will help you thrive in a situation. Situational problems are unavoidable in any setting. Conflicts are a part of our journey. We have the power to handle them, provided we have the right approach and with the right tools, nothing can go wrong.

It can earn us good relationships with our co-workers. It will always give you a double boost in your career, which cannot be bad at all. A healthy dose of conflict lets you know the people you work with a little better than before. It is a needed ingredient for a healthy relationship and, yes, even in work relationships. That is why companies go to lengths to solve their conflict-management skills. They look for a candidate who can solve the conflict in a healthy manner. Good Conflict-management tools in an employee can save a good amount of money to the company. The benefits are many. The reason is that it will promote team unity and boost the morale of the staff. It is a powerful tool. You can learn it. One must sharpen their conflict management skills as it will add value to the people.

How do you Handle Conflict Interview Questions?- How to Answer?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top