How to answer "How do you approach conflict resolution?" (with sample answers)

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This post is part of our series on behavioral interview questions.

Why Employers Ask This

In any workplace, conflicts are inevitable. Employers want to know how you handle difficult situations and resolve conflicts. This question gives them insight into your communication and problem-solving skills. Employers also want to assess whether you can work well with others and how you handle stressful situations.

How to Answer the Question

When answering this question, it's important to showcase your problem-solving skills and ability to work well with others. Here are some tips:

  1. Prepare Your Answer in Advance: Take some time to reflect on your conflict resolution style. Think of real-life examples that you can use to support your answer.
  2. Explain Your Approach: Describe your conflict resolution approach and how you tackle disagreements. Focus on specific strategies such as active listening, compromising, or finding a win-win solution.
  3. Share an Example from Your Experience: Use an example from your previous work experience to demonstrate how you handled a conflict. Explain the situation, what actions you took, and the outcome. Make sure to highlight how you successfully resolved the issue.
  4. Show Your Positive Attitude: Emphasize your positive attitude towards conflicts. Explain that conflicts can arise in any workplace, but they can be healthy if they are resolved amicably and constructively.
  5. Highlight Your Communication Skills: Emphasize your communication skills and how you use them to resolve conflicts. Explain how you listen to others' perspectives and how you communicate your own opinions and ideas effectively.

Sample answers

Bad Answer: When dealing with conflict, I try to avoid it as much as possible. I don't want to argue or make anyone upset, so I usually just ignore the issue until it goes away. Explanation: This answer indicates a lack of conflict resolution skills and a tendency towards avoidance. This approach can actually worsen conflicts and lead to resentment among team members. Good Answer: I approach conflict resolution by first assessing the situation and actively listening to both parties involved. I strive to understand their perspectives and underlying concerns. Then, I work towards finding a mutually beneficial solution through open communication and compromise. Explanation: This answer demonstrates a methodical and constructive approach towards resolving conflicts. It emphasizes the importance of effective communication, understanding, and collaboration. Bad Answer: When conflict arises, I always make sure to assert my opinion and stand my ground. I'm not afraid to argue and fight for what I believe in. Explanation: This answer is potentially problematic as it can come across as combative and unwilling to compromise. Conflict resolution should aim to find common ground and a solution that satisfies all parties, not just one individual's viewpoint. Good Answer: I approach conflict resolution by focusing on the problem at hand and leaving personal opinions and emotions out of the discussion. I try to keep a clear and objective mindset, and seek out solutions that benefit everyone involved. Explanation: This answer shows an emphasis on professionalism and rational thinking. By setting aside personal biases and maintaining a level-headed approach, the candidate is more likely to reach a fair and effective resolution.
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