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Do You Know How to Answer this Common Interview Question?


It would be difficult to name which is worse: a bizarre, off-the-wall interview question or an old, stale one. Each presents its own challenges. Many interviewers turn to this standard prompt: “Tell me about a time when you had to rely on your skills to overcome conflict.” In order to creatively answer this cliché question, rely on these three elements:

  1. Problem. Show a nuanced and comprehensive understanding of the issue. Briefly include any relevant background. Don’t get bogged down in the details, but give a succinct overview of the key factors, showing you grasp where the conflict centered.

  2. Process. Having identified the problem, explain how you collaborated with others to chart a path forward. A good response will show both your temperament and your skills. What steps did you take? What parameters did you have to work within? Describe your approach and the outcome.

  3. People. If your answer shows you as the hero and the other members of the conflict as the villains you have bungled your opportunity. Your description should demonstrate that you understand others’ motivations and respect their positions—even if you don’t agree with them. Share how you forged common ground, including how you changed your own actions.

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