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Tell me about a time where you had to deal with conflict on the job?

A worker’s success, no matter the job, is measured in two scales – behavior and results. The results are the amount of work done and the quality of that work. Behavior is how the results are accomplished. Keep in mind that interviewers want to measure a candidate on both scales, and you want to score highly on both. A good candidate has the skills to accomplish the job, but must also go about obtaining results in a positive manner.

Here’s an example:

As a manager you can push people who work for you hard, keep on top of them, look over their shoulders, yell and punish bad behavior. On a single project basis that works well to get results, but over a long period of time people won’t be happy, and the quality of their work will diminish.

So interviewers spend a lot of time on behavioral questions that reveal how you’ve handled or will handle common work situations. These questions don’t require expression of a great deal of experience, but they do require expressing positive behaviors from either work or private life.

One way to answer this question, and other behavioral questions, well is to use the STAR (SAR) method. This method describes, and helps you remember, the elements of an excellent answer.

• Situation – Recall and describe, in accurate detail, the situation, including the task that had to be accomplished.
• Action – Don’t talk about what could have been done, describe the actions you took in the specific situation. If it was a group effort, describe exactly what you contributed to the group.
• Result – Describe how the situation ended, either by describing the success or what you, personally, learned from the situation.

“Our new boss didn’t understand the work we did, and as a result demanded procedures that were outdated. Everyone in the department complained about the problem, so one day I suggested we explain things to the new boss. We did it as a group, but I drew up flow charts of the outdated procedures as well as the new ones, showing how those saved time and gave better results. Our boss thanked us for the explanation but still insisted we do things his way – he said the new procedures missed some important reporting that could come in handy in the future. I still think we were right, but I understood his point of view – those reports could come in handy.”

Some answers can be too honest. “A co-worker kept butting in front of me in line in the cafeteria, so I threw the dessert in her face.”

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