The question about disagreeing with your boss will come up in interviews. Valerie Sutton, director of Career Services at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, explains how to answer this common interview question. She focuses on staying positive and showing your fit with the work environment. This is not a question to be feared as it can show you are a collaborative colleauge and engaged in work.
- Whenever people work closely together, it's common for tensions to rise, and on occasion, disagreements to happen. This is why the question, how you handle a disagreement with your boss, may come up in the interview. It's all about how you handle conflict, and if your response is a match for their work environment. This question may also be framed as, how you handled a disagreement with your team or co-worker. Understanding workplace norms can be helpful when answering this question. Some organizations have a collaborative conflict culture that manage conflicts productively, while others are more combative.
This is important, because people make the place, and thus individual differences not only effect individual performance, but also effect overall team performance. By knowing this prior to going into the interview, you can setup an answer that is much more effective. If you can't figure out the conflict culture prior to the interview, you can still do well with this question. Much like a difficult situation, they are looking for integrity, critical thinking, and learning. Be sure to use a specific example that shows how you acknowledged, and understood the different viewpoints.
In choosing an example, look for one that had a positive outcome for organizational performance, or helped an individual develop. If you can't think of a situation with a positive outcome, then choose an example that shows you learned something helpful for a future conflict engagement. Next, demonstrate how you advocated for your point of view, and engaged them with your side of the issue. Showing that you listened to a person's idea is a big part of dealing with conflict. Also, reveal that you asked questions to test their idea, or build a collaborative problem-solving strategy.
The example should also focus on how you maintained a positive attitude through the disagreement. Finally, let them know the result. If it was unsuccessful, that's okay, you just want to end with what you learned, and how you would do it differently in the future. Disagreements are a natural part of doing business, and they help shape us in the workplace. This is not a question to be feared, but one that can show you are engaged with your work, and a collaborative colleague.
- Tell me about your strengths
- Tell me about your weaknesses
- Why are you interested in our company?
- Why did you leave your previous company?
- Tell me how you handled a difficult situation
- What questions do you have?