When you're interviewing a candidate for a job, he may ask you a question like, "What systems are in place for dealing with conflict" or, "How does the company handle conflict"
The applicant asks this question when a harmonious work environment is important to him. He may have come from a previous position with a company that did not have a solid support system for dealing with conflict. He may have felt unheard by the company and the conflict may have taken a toll on his job satisfaction.
Points to Emphasize
When you answer this question, you'll want to focus on the company's positive response to any needs that arise regarding mediating conflict.
- Discuss the protocol in place to respond to an employee who expresses concern or finds himself involved in interoffice conflict.
- Mention any previous conflicts and how the company was able to successfully handle them.
- Express a zero tolerance policy for harassment of any kind.
- Make reference to any department that is designated for handling conflict, like human resources.
Use specific information to ease the applicant's mind regarding the company's belief in the importance of a peaceful work environment.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
While answering this question may be relatively straightforward, there are certain things you'll want to keep in mind so as to avoid any unnecessary pitfalls:
- Don't mention that there are no systems in place, unless you also mention that the company is currently working on one.
- Avoid assuming that the applicant is overly sensitive regarding conflict.
- Refrain from mentioning that there are no official systems in place without mentioning unofficial systems.
- Be sure not to assume that there is no need for any kind of conflict mediation in your workplace.
Chances are your company does have a system in place, so if you're not sure, tell the applicant you will find out and let him know.
Below is an example of how to answer a question about how the company handles conflict:
We believe in the importance of conflict mediation and have firm systems in place. When the conflict is between two employees, the issue is first brought to the supervisor, then to human resources and finally to the manager. We keep files related to interoffice conflict and view tolerance and civility in the workplace as extremely important. We do our best to help employees reach a satisfactory understanding.
An applicant may ask many questions related to the workplace, and this is just one question that may help him get a better understanding of the company and how it functions.