How to Answer “Tell Me About a Time When Two Teams Couldn't Agree On a Path Forward” (With Sample Answers)

flat art illustration of two teams having an argument

Why do employers ask about conflicts with team members?

During a job interview, an employer may ask about conflicts with team members in order to gauge your ability to handle and resolve conflicts in a professional manner. This question can also provide insight into your communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and overall ability to work effectively in a team setting.

How to answer the question:

  1. First, describe the situation briefly and objectively. It’s important to avoid placing blame or assigning fault to any specific team member. Instead, focus on the facts of the situation and the challenges that were faced.

  2. Next, explain how you responded to the conflict. Did you facilitate a discussion between the team members to try and find a resolution? Did you seek out additional resources or guidance from a manager or mentor? Be sure to highlight any actions you took that were effective in resolving the conflict.

  3. Finally, describe the outcome of the situation. What was the resolution that was reached? How did this resolution benefit the team and the project? It’s important to demonstrate that you were able to effectively resolve the conflict and move forward in a positive manner.

How to prepare for this question:

  • Think about any past conflicts or disagreements you have had with team members in a professional setting. Consider how you responded to these situations and what you learned from them.

  • Consider how you might handle a similar situation in the future. What strategies would you use to try and resolve the conflict and move forward in a productive manner?

  • Practice explaining your approach to conflict resolution in a concise and clear manner. Consider using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to structure your answer. This involves describing the Situation, outlining the specific Task you were faced with, explaining the Action you took to address the problem, and detailing the Result of your actions.

Common Mistakes

1. Blaming others for the conflict: It’s important to avoid placing blame or assigning fault to any specific team member when describing the situation. Instead, focus on the facts of the situation and the challenges that were faced. 2. Failing to describe your role in resolving the conflict: It’s important to highlight any actions you took that were effective in resolving the conflict. Employers want to see that you took an active role in trying to find a resolution and that you are capable of handling conflicts in a professional manner. 3. Describing a situation without a resolution: It’s important to demonstrate that you were able to effectively resolve the conflict and move forward in a positive manner. If you are unable to describe a resolution, it may appear that you were unable to handle the situation effectively.

Sample Answers

  1. "One situation that comes to mind was when I was working on a marketing campaign for a new product launch. The creative team and the data analytics team had different ideas on how to approach the campaign, and we couldn't seem to come to an agreement. As the project manager, I facilitated a discussion between the two teams to try and find a resolution. We ended up combining elements from both approaches and presenting them to the client, who ultimately approved the plan. By working together and finding a solution that incorporated the strengths of both teams, we were able to move forward and successfully launch the campaign."

  2. "During a software development project, there was a disagreement between the design and development teams on the best way to implement a certain feature. The design team wanted to focus on aesthetics, while the development team was more concerned with functionality. I suggested that we bring in a third party, such as a usability expert, to provide a fresh perspective and help us find a solution that balanced both aesthetics and functionality. This helped us reach a compromise and move forward with the project."

  3. "I recall a situation where the sales team and the customer service team were in disagreement over how to handle a difficult customer situation. The sales team wanted to offer a discount to try and retain the customer, while the customer service team felt that the issue was not our fault and we shouldn't offer any concessions. I suggested that we gather more information and present it to the customer in a transparent manner. This approach ended up diffusing the situation and the customer ultimately decided to stay with us. By gathering more information and finding a solution that was fair for both the customer and the company, we were able to resolve the conflict and maintain a positive relationship with the customer."
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