How to Answer “Tell Me About a Time When You Disagreed With Your Manager” in an Interview

flat art illustration of a person having an argument with their manager

Why do employers ask this question?

Employers ask this question to gauge your ability to handle conflict and dissent in a professional manner. They want to see if you are able to disagree with your manager while still maintaining a respectful and productive working relationship.

How to answer the question

  1. Describe the situation in which you disagreed with your manager. Be specific and provide context.
  2. Explain your perspective and the reasons behind your disagreement. Be sure to emphasize that your disagreement was not personal and that you were acting in the best interest of the team or company.
  3. Describe how you communicated your disagreement to your manager. Emphasize that you were respectful and professional in your communication.
  4. Discuss the outcome of the situation. If the disagreement was resolved, explain how it was resolved and what you learned from the experience. If the disagreement was not resolved, explain how you continued to work effectively with your manager despite the disagreement.

How to prepare for the question

  • Think about a specific time you disagreed with your manager and how you handled the situation. It could be a disagreement about a project, a decision, or a policy.
  • Practice describing the situation, your perspective, and the outcome in a clear and concise manner.
  • Emphasize your ability to handle conflict and dissent in a professional manner, and avoid coming across as confrontational or inflexible.

Remember, it's okay to disagree with your manager. It's how you handle the disagreement that matters. Showing that you can respectfully express your perspective and work towards a resolution demonstrates your ability to handle conflict and be a valuable team player.

Common Mistakes

1. Failing to provide specific examples It's important to provide a specific example of a time you disagreed with your manager, rather than simply saying that you "disagree with your manager sometimes." Providing specific examples shows that you have experience handling conflict and can provide concrete examples of how you handle it. 2. Being confrontational or disrespectful When discussing a disagreement with your manager, it's important to remain respectful and professional. Avoid being confrontational or disrespectful in your language or tone. Even if you strongly disagree with your manager, it's important to remember that you are being evaluated on your ability to handle conflict in a professional manner. 3. Not demonstrating resolution or compromise Employers want to see that you are able to effectively handle conflict and work towards resolution. If your disagreement with your manager was not resolved, it's important to discuss how you continued to work effectively with your manager despite the disagreement. If the disagreement was resolved, discuss how it was resolved and what you learned from the experience.

Overall, it's important to remember that the question "Tell me about a time you disagreed with your manager" is not designed to catch you off guard or trip you up. It's an opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to handle conflict and dissent in a professional manner. By preparing for this question and providing specific examples, you can show that you are a valuable team player and can effectively handle conflict in the workplace.

Sample Answers

  1. "One time I disagreed with my manager was during a project where I felt like we were not allocating enough resources to a certain aspect of the project. I voiced my concerns to my manager and explained why I thought it was important to allocate more resources in that area. After some discussion, we were able to come to a compromise where we reallocated some of the resources to address my concerns while still keeping the project on track. It was a great learning experience for me because it showed me the importance of voicing my concerns and finding a way to come to a resolution that works for everyone."

  2. "There was a time when I disagreed with my manager about the direction of a marketing campaign. I thought that we should focus more on social media advertising, while my manager felt that traditional advertising methods would be more effective. We had a productive discussion about the pros and cons of each approach and ultimately decided to split our efforts between the two. The campaign was a success, and it was a great learning experience for me because it taught me the value of being open to different perspectives and finding a solution that works for everyone."

  3. "One time I disagreed with my manager was when they wanted to cut corners on a project in order to meet a tight deadline. I was concerned that cutting corners would negatively impact the quality of the project, and I voiced my concerns to my manager. After discussing the issue, we were able to come up with a plan to meet the deadline while still maintaining the quality of the project. It was a great learning experience for me because it showed me the importance of standing up for what I believe in and finding a way to balance competing priorities."
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