Interview Question: Experience Mediating Conflict Between Co-Workers

Nilda Melissa Diaz
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, Career Advice Contributor Last Updated: August 30, 2022
Describe A Time Where You Mediated Between Two Colleagues

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Behavioral interview questions like, ‘Describe a time when you got co-workers or classmates who dislike each other to work together’ are commonly used to assess a candidate’s application of critical skills and abilities. Such questions field an individual’s past experience and allow applicants to demonstrate how they use their skills and abilities to solve problems. These queries can be difficult to answer if you don’t think ahead of time about the answers you will give. By spending time assessing your previous job experience before your interview, you can be prepared with confident, concise and descriptive answers.

When asking this question, interviewers are interested in hearing about your conflict management skills and your ability to mediate and help others work together. They want to know what unique skills you have that encourage others to get along and work as a team while reducing conflict along the way. It may be phrased in other ways, such as, “Describe a time when you solved a team conflict.’ The best approach to answering this question without missing any components is to utilize the STAR method, which will address everything from the situation you were in to the outcome of your actions.

How to Answer the ‘Describe a Time When You Got Co-workers or Classmates Who Dislike Each Other to Work Together’ Behavioral Interview Question

1. Highlight Issues That Were Resolved

Addressing behavioral interview questions related to conflict is a method for interviewers to assess your ability to come up with creative solutions that both minimize and solve contention. It would be a mistake to talk about a situation in which the outcome was negative or wasn’t resolved at all. Stick to scenarios where the conflict was resolved, people learned to work together, and an objective was successfully accomplished. These kinds of examples will do a great deal in building your reputation as an individual who is competent and able to be a team leader.

2. Employ the STAR Method

The STAR method is an excellent resource to use when preparing answers to questions like these. Doing so will ensure you don’t miss any of the necessary pieces of the question. The STAR acronym covers three steps:

  • ST: the situation you were in or the task you were given
  • A: the action you implemented along the way
  • R: the result that took place as an outcome of your behavior

3. Don’t Speak Ill of Anyone

One of the worst mistakes you can make when answering behavioral questions is to portray a previous employer, associate, or superior in a negative light. While you may have had an unpleasant experience, talking ill about others is only a disadvantage to yourself. Your interviewer wants to see how your skills and abilities are successful in defusing drama and avoiding unnecessary conflict. Talking poorly about others may only create the impression that you aren’t able to work with others, may potentially be a tattler, or in general won’t be fitting for a team dynamic.

4. Reference the Skills in Your Resume

Show your confidence in your skills and the image you have portrayed on your resume. The best way to do this is to answer each question by referencing the skills you included on the resume you submitted. For example, if you have listed conflict management and team leadership as skills, speak confidently about how these particular strengths have enabled you to successfully mitigate disputes. You can also point out how your team leadership abilities are crucial to encourage others to work together and be respectful of each other. By dotting your answer with the skills you have previously discussed, you can prove to the interviewer that you actually possess these abilities and aren’t just claiming to have them.

Sample ‘Describe a Time When You Got Co-workers or Classmates Who Dislike Each Other to Work Together’ STAR Interview Answer

In the business capstone I took during my senior year of college, I was part of a five,person group. Two of the students were both A,type personalities and regularly fought over who would lead group discussions, make team decisions, and conduct study sessions. Their regular disagreements were hurting our team’s performance. After recognizing this problem, I suggested delegating tasks within the simulated assignments. Every student would complete their assigned task and we would reconvene to discuss outcomes and potential changes. While the idea was initially met with reluctance by the two students, an overall vote determined the change. Quickly, the team dynamic transformed. The two students recognized that everyone’s strengths were necessary and that they each could contribute in unique ways to enable the team’s success. By the end of the semester, our team was working together seamlessly and were rated the top in our class. We all graduated with a 4.0 in that particular course.

Now you can be confident in your ability to address behavioral interview questions like “Describe a time when you got co-workers or classmates who dislike each other to work together.” With thorough preparation, you have the best chance at acing your interview.

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