Tell Me About a Time You Were Able to Successfully Work Closely With Someone You Didnt Like

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In general- there are two broad categories of questions you may be asked during the job application process: traditional questions and behavioral interview questions. While you might be able to rattle off answers to traditional interview questions such as ‘Why do you want this job?’ or ‘What is your work history?’ the latter type of query can be much more of a challenge.

Questions that have to do with your behavior as an individual- a team player and a potential employee can be deep and hard-hitting. These types of queries will make you think critically about how you have dealt with tricky subjects in the past and will encourage you to share your insights with your interviewer.

One behavioral question that is commonly asked is ‘Tell me about a time you were able to successfully work closely with someone you didnt like.’ You might have to think hard about an answer to this that shows you in the best light and illustrates a positive aspect of your character. When interviewers give you this question- what they are really trying to get at is how you work with others who you don’t necessarily get along with. They are striving to judge how you will react if placed in a work environment that is challenging for you.

A question such as this can be tongue-tying unless you have thought about it before. Fortunately- with some prep work and thinking ahead- you can have a fully prepared answer that highlights your best qualities.

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How to Answer the ‘Tell Me About a Time You Were Able to Successfully Work Closely With Someone You Didnt Like’ Behavioral Interview Question

Use Specific Scenarios. When it comes to answering behavioral interview questions such as this- avoid speaking in terms of generalizations. Have several specific situations in mind in which you have actually been placed in a close professional environment with an enemy or someone who just knew how to aggravate you. If you have never been in this type of scenario- think about a similar situation and what you would do in that case. For instance- were you ever part of a group – professional or otherwise – with someone whom you just didn’t jive with? Remember that the heart of what the interviewer is trying to get at is how you deal with personality conflicts on a professional level.

Employ the STAR Method. The STAR method is one surefire way of organizing your thoughts and giving an A+ answer to such a tricky question. It helps you from veering into generalities by keeping you focused on concrete situations and real-life situations- which is really what the interviewer wants to hear. STAR is an acronym for:

  • • Situation or Task
  • • Action
  • • Result
  • To best use the STAR method- begin by telling the interviewer about a particular situation or task in which you had to work with someone who you didn’t necessarily like. Move on to tell him or her how you handled the situation if any conflict arose and what developed as a result- either in terms of relationships or professional success. Did you wind up becoming friends with the individual in the end? Or did you transfer to a different group so that you did not have to engage with him or her any longer?

Don’t Forget to Be Realistic. No interviewer likes a job candidate who purports himself or herself to be perfect. Instead- be yourself. Remember that it is okay to not be friendly or chummy with every single person whom you work with- but it is not okay to overlook your job responsibilities to your workplace just because of a personal conflict. Be realistic about not getting along with a certain person- even if there was no specific reason for it. Finding the right balance between making an effort to act professionally and retaining your own integrity is where the sweet spot answer to this question lies.

Sample ‘Tell Me About a Time You Were Able to Successfully Work Closely With Someone You Didnt Like’ STAR Interview Answer

At my last place of employment- I was put on a review team with an individual whom I simply did not get along with. We had a personal history that had ended negatively- and so we were not on good terms when we were first assigned to be on the same team. However- knowing that we would have to work closely together for at least the next few months- we mutually decided to put aside our past differences and re-engage on a professional level for the sake of the team and the job. I put sustained effort into re-framing our relationship as new- fresh and fully professional so that we could see eye-to-eye and achieve success as two team members working together.

As you can see- behavioral interview questions are quite a bit more complex and demanding than your traditional interview questions. Practice your answers well in advance and try to make them as tailored to the specific job that you are applying for as possible.

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