How To Answer “How Do You Handle Conflict In The Workplace?” (2021)

Do you have an upcoming job interview? Make sure you know how to answer the “How do you handle conflict in the workplace“, “How do you deal with conflict at work?” or “Can you recall a time of conflict with a coworker?” interview questions! 

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This interview question is commonly asked to gain an understanding of your personality and interpersonal skills. By probing your attitude and approach to conflict, the interviewer can judge how you will interact with stakeholders involved and decide whether you are a good fit for their company. When answering behavioural questions, the CARL technique proves to be helpful:

Example Answer

Context: “Oh, I actually handle it quite well. A recent example of this is when I was working as a [Job title] at [Company XYZ]. I reached out to a prospect via email without knowing that my coworker had already been in contact. Once I closed the deal, I was confronted by my coworker who was clearly upset.  

Action: To alleviate negative emotions and understand my coworker’s perspective, I started asking questions. I apologized for the inconvenience and arranged a short meeting later that day to check the CRM and see where it went wrong.

Results: Apparently, my coworker forgot to log the activity so I was unaware about her interaction with the potential client. She understood it was a genuine mistake and we decided to share the commission. 

Learning: What I’ve learned from this situation, is to so-called ‘move past positions‘. Often the position is “This is my client!” or “This coworker is impossible to work with!”. To resolve this specific conflict, I had to put effort into understanding my coworker’s perspective, check the CRM and offer a reasonable solution.

Interview Question Tips

  • Don’t say you’ve never experienced conflict in the workplace
  • Don’t speak negatively about your former boss or colleagues
  • Do inform the interviewer that you are a good listener (provide an example)
  • Do pick a situation were you solved the conflict and came to a positive outcome