This can be a tricky question to answer, because they don’t want you to either refuse or fold. Instead, the hiring manager is most likely asking the question to find out how you deal with disagreement, and also how far you will go to make yourself heard. Emphasizing whether or not you would actually do the thing in the end is less likely to be important, because the interviewer realizes that persuasion is a negotiation and that no one is always right or wrong, so focus on that process.
Points to Emphasize
Here are a few key strategies that can help you put together the most positive response you can.
- Break down the steps you would take, to show how you try to resolve misunderstandings and disputes.
- Keep the language neutral, and highlight communication strategies over the disagreement itself.
- Show flexibility, providing a couple of options that show how the resolution might go either way.
- If you can, demonstrate your integrity by establishing your boundaries as an employee.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Make sure you step around the following obstacles when you frame your answer.
- Never send an ultimatum, even in a hypothetical. It comes off as escalating and sends the message that you can’t be negotiated with.
- Try not to be too absolute in general. This can make you seem unreasonable.
- Don’t assume what the disagreement will be, or that it will be the supervisor at fault.
- Beware of coming off like a know-it-all. This isn’t an opportunity to show how you correct a supervisor.
This one walks the middle ground. Try to come up with something similar for your interview.
Well, first of all, I would try to make sure I understood the situation. Especially if I was being asked to do something that would normally be against the rules. Once I was sure I understood what I was being asked to do, if it was still an issue, I would explain my misgivings. After that, if it’s just a matter of procedure, I’m doing things the boss’s way because supervisors have a different view of the situation. If it’s an issue of safety or another major concern, though, I would not act until I was sure that what I was doing would not be harmful to our overall project.
The key here is to show that you are going to be thinking about what you’re asked to do, but that you’re not going to be too resistant to change if a situation calls for quickness and adaptability.