How to answer "How do you handle a situation when you disagree with your supervisor?" (with sample answers)

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

Why Employers Ask This

Employers ask this question to see how well you manage conflict and resolve issues with authority figures. They want to know if you have the ability to handle challenging situations, communicate effectively, and approach disagreements in a respectful manner.

They may also be interested in your problem-solving skills and your ability to negotiate solutions that are satisfactory for both yourself and your supervisor.

Ultimately, this question is designed to assess your interpersonal skills and how you might fit within the company culture.

How to Answer the Question

When answering this question in a job interview, it's important to demonstrate that you are able to handle conflicts professionally and appropriately. Here are some tips:

  1. Describe a specific situation where you disagreed with your supervisor.
  2. Explain your thought process and what led you to disagree.
  3. Describe how you handled the situation in a professional and diplomatic manner.
  4. Discuss the resolution or outcome of the situation.
  5. Reflect on what you learned and how you might approach similar situations in the future.

It's important to stay calm and composed while answering this question. Avoid blaming or criticizing your supervisor, and instead focus on describing how you were able to navigate the situation in a respectful and effective manner.

You can also emphasize your ability to communicate effectively, listen actively, and collaborate with others to find solutions.

Sample answers

Handling a situation where you disagree with your supervisor can be a challenging task. You must remain respectful and professional while maintaining your stance. Here are some examples of good and bad answers to this question:

  1. Bad answer:

    I argue with my supervisor until he agrees with me.

    This answer is a bad answer because it shows that you are confrontational and unwilling to see other perspectives apart from yours. It also shows that you are probably difficult to work with and may not be a good team player.

  2. Bad answer:

    I just keep quiet and do whatever my supervisor wants because I do not want to cause any trouble.

    This answer is bad because it shows that you are passive and lack confidence in yourself and your ideas. It also shows that you are not proactive in making decisions that can add value to the organization.

  3. Good answer:

    I respectfully present my ideas to my supervisor and provide evidence to back up my point of view. I listen carefully to my supervisor's perspective and try to understand their reasoning. If we still have disagreements, I suggest we come up with a compromise that's best for the team and the organization.

    This answer shows that you are a good communicator, critical thinker, and a team player. You respect your supervisor while showcasing your own ideas and trying to find a middle ground. It's a great way to demonstrate your ability to handle conflicts constructively and collaboratively.

  4. Good answer:

    I take some time to reflect on my supervisor's perspective and try to understand why they see things differently. Then I try to adjust my thinking and come up with a solution that satisfies both of us while keeping the organization's goals in mind.

    This answer shows that you are a reflective thinker who is willing to consider different perspectives. It also shows that you prioritize the organization's goals over personal interests and that you can find ways to work collaboratively with your supervisor.

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