Interview Question: Following Company Policies With Which You Disagree

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: December 05, 2022

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The most common kind of question you will like face when interviewing for a position are the behavioral interview questions. These are less concrete than traditional questions that ask about job history or education. Instead, behavioral questions inquire about abstract concepts, allowing many different ways to answer them. Behavioral questions are usually more difficult to field, but by preparing and reviewing these simple tips, you will be able to give strong answers every time.

The information behavioral questions yield to interviewers gives them insight into your decision-making process and your priorities when working. In order to give the best answer possible, you should think about what your interviewer is trying to learn and focus your answer around that information, while emphasizing that you have the positive qualities in question. When interviewing, you may be asked, 'Give me a specific occasion in which you conformed to a policy with which you did not agree.' This is an especially difficult behavioral interview question to answer, so think carefully about the meaning behind it. It is likely that the interviewer wants to see what kind of balance you have between following rules and thinking about operations on your own. You may also be asked, 'How have you responded to instructions you did not agree with?' or 'How much do your own beliefs influence how you follow instructions?' Be sure you are ready to answer this question before the interview begins.

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How to answer: give me a specific occasion in which you conformed to a policy with which you did not agree

1. Use the STAR Method

This strategy for answering behavioral interview questions is a well-established approach. These are the steps you follow:

  • ST – Situation or task. Begin by explaining and describing a situation you were in. This particular interview questions is usually phrased in such a way that it asks about a specific encounter, so you probably will not have any trouble including this.
  • A – Action. Next, you should describe the actions you took in response to the situation or task. This is the most important part of your answer for this answer specifically, although that's not always the case. Be sure to describe your thinking in addition to the physical actions you took.
  • R – Results. Finally, never forget to describe the results of the actions you took. This is usually quite important, but when describing following instructions or policies, you can include slightly less of a focus on the results.

By following the STAR method, you will be sure to have the proper structure to your answer and include each of the points the interviewer is looking for. Make sure you know how you are going to answer this question before the interview begins. Interviewers will be able to tell if you make something up on the spot.

2. Find the Right Balance

Perhaps the most important aspect of answering this behavioral interview question is determining what the proper balance is for the job you are interviewing for. The nature of this question throws your ability to think for yourself and the importance of following orders into conflict. Every position requires a different balance of these two skills, so it is up to you to determine what the interview is expecting. Sometimes you should follow instructions blindly, and other times you should comprehend the motivation behind a policy and change your actions accordingly to find a solution that both follows the policy and solves the problem.

3. Always Describe Following Instructions

If you are trying to emphasize that you are able of thinking on your own, it may be tempting to describe when it worked out not to follow a policy, but this does not answer the question properly or paint you in good light. You should always give an answer that involves you following the policy. If you are want to show that you are a free thinker, consider how you could have taken a different approach to solve a problem while still fulfilling the requirements of a policy.

Example answer: give me a specific occasion in which you conformed to a policy with which you did not agree

The final cleanup process at the last place I worked was always considered to be the most frustrating part of the day. Several of the employees tried to make this process more enjoyable by playing music, but this was in violation of a policy against noise levels in the establishment, even though there were no customers present. As a leader, I followed the policy by telling the employees that they were not allowed to play music as they cleaned. Instead, to encourage the workers and make the cleanup more appealing, I implemented a reward system that was based on how quickly they were able to finish. The labor costs that we saved due to faster cleanups actually outweighed the cost of providing the simple monetary rewards and significantly improved the morale of the workers.

Make sure you follow these simple tips to be able to answer all the behavioral interview questions that are thrown your way.

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