When you get asked about a time when you disagreed with your boss, the interviewer is really asking about your communication skills. Disagreements happen. What you do when those disagreements take place says a lot about you. The hiring manager is looking to see that you have a good relationship with those in authority. How you interact with your previous boss also says a lot about you as a person. The interviewer uses questions like these to see if you'll be a good fit in the company.
Points to Emphasize
When you answer this question you want to focus on traits, skills and experiences that helped you diffuse the disagreement.
- Talk about how this situation with your boss will prepare you to handle disagreements with coworkers in the future.
- Mention that your laid back personality trait will help diffuse tension.
- Briefly explain the situation of the disagreement, but make sure to do so in a respectful way. Don't be afraid to admit that you were in the wrong, if that's what happened.
- Talk about the importance of communicating with coworkers even if there is a disagreement.
Answer the question in a positive way, even if it was a difficult disagreement.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
You need to make sure to stay away from accusatory claims.
- Do not speak poorly of your previous boss.
- Do not play down the importance that your character played in the diffusion of the disagreement.
- Don't try to pretend like you never had a disagreement with a previous boss.
- Try not to get edgy. The disagreement may have been recent, but don't let it cloud your judgment.
Hiring managers are looking for honest, confident individuals. Avoid evasive answers.
Answering this type of charged question can be difficult, but you don't have to make it difficult. A good answer might go something like this:
I once disagreed with my boss over how to best help a customer. Rather than question his authority in front of everyone, I talked to him off of the floor. I was open and honest about the problems I had with the way he wanted to do things. It turned out that there was just a simple misunderstanding. That disagreement we had showed me the importance of communicating with my coworkers to make sure that something obsolete doesn't become a bigger problem than it needs to be.
Remember that hiring managers are looking for someone that will fit in at their company. Try and answer in a way that will show your better qualities.