Your job interview is going so well and then you're asked:
First of all, no, it's not a trick question. And, no, the hiring manager isn't trying to get you to engage in illegal business practices.
They're asking this question to find out how...
you deal with conflicts and disagreements 💪
far you're willing to go to make yourself heard 👄
much you understand about the fine art of negotiation 🤝
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Never give an ultimatum. Aim to negotiate, not escalate. This is not where you'd want to say, "I'd probably quit."
Avoid fixed language. You want your answer to reflect your flexibility. Avoid phrases such as, "I'd never..." or "There's no way I'd ever..."
Never make assumptions. You don't want to assume what the situation is or if the supervisor is at fault. Give everything the benefit of the doubt.
Avoid coming off like a know-it-all. This isn't the time to show how you'd correct a supervisor.
“I'd talk to the CEO and tell them what my manager instructed me to do, then tell them what should be done instead. Then let the CEO decide if it's best.” Why should you avoid an answer like this?
It assumes your manager is wrong
It doesn't respect positional hierarchy
It doesn't demonstrate negotiation
All of these
How To Answer Correctly
Outline the steps you'd take to resolve potential misunderstandings and disputes.
Use impartial language to show that you're trying to understanding the other side's position instead of focussing on the disagreement itself.
Show flexibility by explaining that you'd be open to changing your position to help resolve the situation if it takes an unexpected direction.
Maintain your integrity by showing that you have boundaries, especially when it comes to operating ethically or managing projects.
You want your answer to show that you're willing to troubleshoot and resolve conflicts and disputes.
Still feeling overwhelmed on how to frame your answer?
Here's an example you can model your own response after:
"I would first make sure I understood what was being asked of me. Then, if I felt that there was a better solution, I would propose that.
If my manager still asked me to do things a certain way, I would trust my superior and follow their instructions.
However, if I were being asked to do something immoral or illegal, or something I strongly felt would negatively impact others, I would express my concerns. If my manager was not willing to listen, I would likely take my concerns to a neutral individual to get another opinion."
Notice that the focus is on the process of reaching a solution and NOT the disagreement itself.
No matter how you answer the interview question, you want your answer to show that you can wisely work through a disagreement and find a beneficial solution foreveryone involved.
So, the next time you're asked this question in an interview, keep the following in mind as you answer:
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