How To Answer “How Do You Deal With Unresponsive Colleagues?” (2022)

Do you have an upcoming job interview? Make sure you know how to answer the: “How do you deal with unresponsive colleagues?” OR “How do you deal with an unresponsive coworker?” interview question!

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The interviewer might ask you this interview question to find out more about:

  1. Your experience in dealing with unresponsive coworkers
  2. Your ability to communicate and interact with stakeholders
  3. Your quality to manage stressful situations and remain calm  
  4. Your ability to be self-assured and confident without being aggressive
  5. How you work in teams and handle conflict in the workplace

Use the CARL method to structure your answer to behavioural interview questions.

#1 Example Answer

Context: “Oh, I can handle it quite well. A recent example of this is when I was working as a [Job role] at [XYZ Company]. I reached out to a colleague multiple times via IM and email concerning an urgent project at work, but I didn’t get a response. 

We had to plan, style, and develop site content for an upcoming marketing campaign with only one week remaining. With such a tight deadline before the rollout, even a one-day delay would add more pressure to the situation. After all, it was my responsibility to publish it on [Deadline day].

Action: Due to COVID-19, all colleagues worked remotely so talking in person was not an option. I then scheduled a time in his calendar to arrange a Zoom meeting. When I finally managed to speak to him, he apologized for the inconvenience and he assured me to keep in touch for the remaining days.

Result: Although my colleague’s contributions to the project were almost minimal, I made the decision to wait until after the project. I then politely asked him what I could do differently to reach him quickly and anticipate inaccuracies. Apparently, some personal issues and an overflowing inbox made him feel overwhelmed. My colleague appreciated my understanding and willingness to go the extra mile. 

Learning: What I have learned is to alleviate negative emotions, remain calm and address the issue after project completion. In hindsight, I’m glad I did so because my colleague was going through a very tough time in his personal life.

#2 Example Answer

“In the case of an unresponsive colleague, I’d reach out multiple times via IM and Outlook or directly schedule a 15 minute meeting on their agenda with a note that says: “Time to discuss the attached threat” including the unanswered email. 

When I was working as a [Job title] at [Company XYZ] however, I had some serious trouble getting responses from colleagues working in the sales department. In these circumstances, I noticed that direct communication while sitting in front of the person is the most effective way to deal with unresponsiveness. 

I’d raise the issue and politely ask them something along the lines of: “I often don’t hear back from you about requests I send in Outlook, is there something you’d like me to do differently?” It was usually the result of an overflowing inbox or because they find it too difficult to provide a suitable answer via email.”

Interview Question Tips

  • Don’t ramble or speak negatively about a former employer or coworker when describing the situation
  • Do provide a real-life example that proves you can deal with unresponsive coworkers
  • Do explain your methods for dealing with colleagues that don’t respond to your IM or emails