Take a free practice interview

  • Practice answering questions and get real feedback to improve
  • Get job-specific questions at the company you want
  • 95% say this improved their performance

Acing the Interview: Navigating Disagreements with Your Supervisor

Disagreeing with your supervisor can be tricky, but answering this question well can showcase your professionalism and problem-solving skills. Read on for expert advice and strong sample answers.

What is the hiring manager looking for?

Hiring managers pose this question to assess a candidate’s ability to navigate challenging situations, handle conflicts professionally, and maintain a positive working relationship with their supervisor. They seek individuals who can express their opinions respectfully, find common ground, and work collaboratively to find solutions.

How to structure your answer

To effectively answer this question, consider using the following structure:

* Acknowledge and Respect Authority: Begin by acknowledging the supervisor’s authority and expressing your respect for their position. This demonstrates your professionalism and willingness to work within the organizational hierarchy.

* Clarify the Situation: Ask clarifying questions to ensure you fully understand the situation, the supervisor’s perspective, and the reasons behind their decision. This shows your attention to detail and desire to make informed judgments.

* Express Your Perspective: Politely and respectfully express your disagreement, focusing on the facts and data rather than emotions. Use “I” statements to convey your perspective without sounding confrontational.

* Propose Alternative Solutions: If appropriate, suggest alternative solutions or approaches that you believe could address the situation more effectively. Be open to considering the supervisor’s feedback and finding a mutually acceptable compromise.

* Maintain a Positive Attitude: Throughout the conversation, maintain a positive and solution-oriented attitude, demonstrating your commitment to finding a constructive resolution and your ability to work collaboratively.

Tips to answer this interview question


* Stay Calm and Professional: Remain composed and respectful, even if the situation becomes heated. Avoid raising your voice or becoming defensive.

* Focus on the Issue, Not the Person: Keep the conversation focused on the issue at hand rather than attacking the supervisor personally.

* Be Willing to Compromise: Be open to finding a middle ground and reaching a compromise that addresses both your concerns and those of your supervisor.

* Avoid Making Excuses: Take responsibility for your actions and avoid making excuses or blaming others.

Things to Avoid:

* Don’t Ignore or Dismiss the Supervisor’s Authority: Undermining or disregarding the supervisor’s authority can damage your professional relationship and harm your chances of success in the role.

* Don’t Be Aggressive or Disrespectful: Expressing your disagreement in an aggressive or disrespectful manner will reflect poorly on you and could jeopardize your chances of getting the job.

* Don’t Get Emotional: Keep your emotions in check and avoid letting personal feelings cloud your judgment.

Example interview answers to this question

Sample Answers:

Answer 1:

“In a previous role, I encountered a situation where I disagreed with my supervisor’s decision to implement a new software program. I respectfully asked clarifying questions to understand their reasoning and the benefits of the software. After careful consideration, I presented alternative options that I believed better aligned with our team’s needs and goals. My supervisor appreciated my input, and we ultimately agreed on a compromise that addressed the concerns of both parties.”

Explanation: This answer demonstrates the candidate’s ability to respectfully express their disagreement, gather more information, offer alternative solutions, and find a mutually acceptable compromise. It highlights their professionalism, problem-solving skills, and commitment to finding constructive resolutions.

Answer 2:

“I believe that handling disagreements with a supervisor requires a delicate balance between assertiveness and respect. In a previous situation, I politely expressed my disagreement with my supervisor’s decision to restructure our team. I focused on the impact it would have on employee morale and productivity. I also suggested an alternative plan that maintained the team’s integrity while addressing the supervisor’s concerns. My supervisor listened attentively and appreciated my willingness to engage in a productive discussion. We eventually reached a solution that balanced the needs of the team and the organization.”

Explanation: This answer showcases the candidate’s ability to navigate a challenging situation with tact and professionalism. It highlights their effective communication skills, ability to analyze and present alternative solutions, and commitment to finding a mutually beneficial outcome.

Like a phone call interview – with your own AI interview coach.

Enter job title and company

Practice effectively for your dream job.

Get asked job-specific questions

Your AI interview coach will speak and ask you questions.

Speak back and view private feedback

Your coach will listen to you speak and reply with follow-up questions and private feedback.

Interview Feedback

Improve from real feedback

Frustrated by never hearing feedback from your interviews? We get it. Interview Smile is your way to get real feedback on how you did and to help you answer questions better. Come into your next job interview empowered with superhuman interview readiness.

Go from nervous to confident

Practice with your AI coach as much as you want to calm your interview nerves. Hone your pitch and boost your confidence with Interview Smile.

Interview Practice