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How to Answer “Can You Tell Me About a Time You Dealt with a Difficult Coworker?”

This interview question is tricky because it requires you to balance honesty with professionalism. It’s important to answer it well because it can show the hiring manager how you handle conflict and teamwork.

What is the hiring manager looking for?

The hiring manager wants to know how you handle conflict and teamwork. They want to see that you can work effectively with others, even when you disagree with them. They also want to see that you can stay professional and objective, even when dealing with a difficult person.

How to structure your answer

A good structure to answer this question is the STAR method:
* Situation: Describe the situation in which you encountered a difficult coworker or supervisor.
* Task: Explain the task or goal you were trying to accomplish.
* Action: Describe the actions you took to deal with the difficult person.
* Result: Explain the positive outcome that resulted from your actions.

Tips to answer this interview question

* Tips:
* Be honest and specific.
* Focus on your actions and the positive outcome.
* Be professional and objective.
* Avoid blaming or complaining about the other person.
* Avoid getting emotional or defensive.
* Things to avoid:
* Don’t dwell on the negative aspects of the situation.
* Don’t make excuses for your behavior.
* Don’t badmouth the other person.

Example interview answers to this question

Example 1:

“I once had a coworker who was constantly negative and always complaining. She would often make snide remarks about me and my work. At first, I tried to ignore her, but eventually, her negativity started to affect my own work. I decided to talk to her about it. I told her that her negativity was making it difficult for me to concentrate and that I needed her to stop. She was surprised that I had said anything, but she agreed to try to be more positive. After that, she was much more pleasant to work with and I was able to focus on my work again.”

* This is a strong answer because it is honest and specific. The candidate describes the situation in detail and explains the actions they took to deal with the difficult coworker. They also explain the positive outcome that resulted from their actions.


Example 2:

“I once had a supervisor who was very micromanaging. He would constantly check up on my work and would often criticize me, even for small things. This made it difficult for me to feel confident in my work and it also made it difficult to get anything done. I decided to talk to him about it. I told him that I appreciated his feedback, but that I needed more autonomy. He agreed to give me more space and after that, I was able to be more productive and I felt more confident in my work.”

* This is a strong answer because it is professional and objective. The candidate focuses on their actions and the positive outcome. They also avoid blaming or complaining about the supervisor.

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