To assess how reliable and agreeable of an employee you are, an interviewer may ask if you have ever experienced issues with a supervisor and, if so, how you handled the situation.
Most employees will experience problems with a supervisor at some point, and this question lets an interviewer understand how you are inclined to handle that common situation. The interviewer may want to confirm that you don’t have a high-conflict interpersonal style or difficulty resolving differences of opinion.
Points to Emphasize
Use this question as an opportunity to delve into the personal qualities and problem-solving skills that make you a strong job candidate. Keep the following tips in mind when answering this question:
- Mention the traits or past experiences that you drew on to work past the difficulty or conflict.
- Tell the interviewer about the strategies that you used to address the issue.
- Share what you learned about handling disputes or other problems with your superiors.
- Describe what you would do to proactively address this type of issue now.
Make sure to reassure your interviewer that, although conflicts between you and your supervisors may arise, you can handle them maturely.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Your answer to this question might determine whether you get the job, so be careful to avoid making the following blunders:
- Don’t give examples in which you and the manager had to stop working together entirely.
- Rather than criticizing a past manager, let the objective facts speak for themselves.
- If possible, try to discuss a conflict or dispute that did not stem from questionable behaviors on your own part.
- Don’t allude to frequent conflicts; this can give the impression that this is an issue you regularly face.
Try to avoid displaying a negative attitude when you give your answer, as this could lead a manager to think that you would bring a similar outlook to this job.
Responding to this question with an answer like this one would be acceptable:
When I started working for one manager, she gave me less feedback than I was used to, which made it hard for me to meet her expectations. We had a few disagreements because each of us misunderstood what the other one wanted. Then, I met with her and asked for more specific, honest input. Once we were on the same page, we worked together successfully for two years. Now, when I begin working with a new manager, I take time to discuss our styles and expectations.
Remember that a thoughtful, honest answer to this question can give an interviewer great insights into the reasons that you would make a valuable employee.