Tell Me About a Time You Wished You Had Handled a Situation With a Coworker Differently

Do you have an upcoming job interview? Then you might stumble on the interview question: Can you tell me about a time you wished you had handled a situation with a coworker ORย  fellow student differently?”ย 

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It’s a great question to gain insight into someone’s job-related weaknesses and self-reflection. Provide an answer that shows how you respond to failure, reflect upon and learn from past experiences. You can use the CARL framework to structure your answer. Down below you can find a suitable sample answer:

Example Answer (Experienced)

Context:ย “When I was a [Job title] at [Company XYZ], our team hired an intern to reduce the workload.

Action: Over the course of 4 months of the intern’s employment at our company, I was occupied with my own work and did not give this intern the attention that I should have.

Results: As a result,ย one major project that the intern had been working on, took twice as long as it should have. I also found out that the intern was going through a very tough time combining work and study.

Learning: What I’ve learned from this experience is to be more attentive, even during my work peak times. An internship should be a professional learning experience and my task was to offer regular feedback and help the student develop and achieve learning objectives.”

Example Answer (No Experience)

โ€œI once had a disagreement with a fellow student on how certain team processes should work. I usually avoid conflict and rather focus on demonstrating high-value, high quality work. This time, however, I engaged in the disagreement to demonstrate my level of importance within the team. I was, and still am, under the assumption that my approach was more efficient and effective.

I donโ€™t think there is anything wrong with a professional disagreement, however, it became personal overtime and thatโ€™s when I withdrew from my position as a team lead. In hindsight, I would have handled the situation differently. For example, I could have scheduled a meeting to speak to him privately and sorted things out.โ€

Interview Question Tips

  • Don’t blame your coworker and say something along the lines of: “Perhaps I should have done things differently, but if my coworker wasn’t ignorant, the situation would not have happened”. Show that you take responsibility regardless of your coworker’s behaviour and actions.
  • Do focus on your part of the equation. The interviewer does not care whether you are right and the coworker is wrong. More importantly, explain how you’ve handled the situation and what you would have done differently for a better outcome.