How to overcome conflict between team members

How do you Handle Conflict between Team Members? – Tough Sales Interview Question

There is a very thin line between failure and success in an interview based on how you answer some common questions in an effective way.  Conflict resolution skill is important in your professional career to avoid workload stress or internal workplace problems. So in this article, we do a comprehensive study of the sales interview question: “How do you handle conflict between team members?”

For any job, your behavioural skills would be examined by the interviewers. So, apart from the core skills, you need to develop behavioural skills to stand out from another candidate. Even for the Google product manager post, 14% of interview questions asked are to measure one’s behavioural skills. So, you need to know how you can develop the required skills and frame a perfect answer for a successful interview round. 

You would be surprised to know that even Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai started a special program as M.A. (Executive) in Mediation and Conflict Resolution Program. This is for both legal and non-legal students who want to learn conflict resolution skills. This is a two-year or 4-semester course containing 16 different papers. This one example is good enough to understand the weightage of conflict resolution skills in the workplace. 

Why do the interviewers ask you this question?

The basic aim to ask this question is to examine how suitable you are to work with others. From communication to teamwork skills, everything can be judged with this question. Interviewers want to make sure that you have a genuine ability to handle critical situations professionally and calmly.

Your experience and behavior decide if you can leave the ego behind and compromise for the sake of bigger goals in a company. An organization won’t hire people who cannot deal with people with a positive approach. As most companies appreciate teamwork for faster workflow, you need to be a team player to get the role as well. 

The question can be asked in a different manner in the interview. But the skills required to answer questions related to conflict handling are the same. So, let’s see how to develop required conflict-resolution skills. 

How to prepare when the interviewer asks how do you handle conflict between your team members 

For Freshers:

1. Be calm and always try to understand other’s perspectives. It is important to respect other’s thoughts instead of ignoring them. And such conditions arise from a lack of trust. And trust issues can be boosted with healthy communication. So, it is important to communicate with everyone in the team and understand their mentality. 

2. Try to think logically instead of emotionally in the professional field. Interviewers want someone who can take important decisions and consider the available information. Any assumption based on emotion doesn’t work in the professional field. 

3. Lack of commitment leads to conflict in the team. So, it is important to pay equal concentration and commitment to avoid conflicts. You need to practice commitment and also help others to do so for better teamwork.

4. Practice stress management. Often extra stress leads to conflicts with other team members. Also, when someone is disagreeing at some point, your calmness can possibly prevent conflicts. 

5. Never avoid a conflict. If your team members are having conflicts, you need to solve them straight away instead of waiting to see what happens further. Because conflicts can only lead to a bigger problem. 

6. Develop interpersonal skills like motivating others, caring for team members, leadership, and active listening. 

For Experienced:

1. According to Havard Business Review, conflict management can improve by 20% when team members have high self-awareness. High self-awareness can improve the quality of decisions by 30% and coordination by almost 50%. So as a team lead or team member, try to boost self-awareness among your team. 

2. During any team meeting, everyone should get equal time to present their thoughts or explain their problem. So everyone can feel important in the team and understand that their opinions are valued. 

3. It is better to solve any conflict in the team as soon as possible. Otherwise, one conflict can create a toxic situation among the team. Work as a calming agent among the team to maintain the work culture. 

4. Make compromisation if needed. In a team, there is no place for ego and self-centered activities. So it is important to be on the same page to prevent conflicts. 

How to Answer how do you handle conflict between team member

Sample answer for freshers

“When I was in my third year in college, we had to complete a project within three months. We were a team of five people working together on a project. However, when we were brainstorming the ideas for our project, two of us were having different viewpoints. They wanted two different themes for the project. So, our meeting couldn’t get success for their conflict. None of them was ready to accept the other one’s thought.

I felt it was my responsibility to handle this conflict before it gets worse. I decided to understand their viewpoint personally and find if they were having any personal issues going on. 

I talked to both of them individually and explained calmly that at the end of the day, our whole team would suffer from such conflict. After two days of continuous efforts, they agreed to come to a mutual decision. We decided to merge the two ideas with some inputs from the remaining members and finally started the project. 

Luckily, our project got the best marks in the department and it was possible for the team effort. ”

Sample answer for experienced candidates

“In my previous job, I was a sales agent and my job was to assist customers coming into our supermarket with any doubts. A new employee was hired sometimes later and from the very first day, he started behaving arrogantly. Whenever I was talking with a customer, he used to come over and interrupt and try to make a conversation with the customer. It was not only hampering my work but also hampering the company’s image. 

So, one day I went to talk to him personally and asked him calmly that if there was anything wrong I have done. I also wanted to know the reason behind his interruptive manner. When he seemed to ignore me, I told him confidently that if he continued doing so, I had to inform our manager. He got nervous and told me, he was underconfident in his last job and that’s why he wanted to prove his efficiency here. I told him if he needs any assistance, I was available. Also, I would love to learn enthusiasm from him as well. Since then, we have maintained a healthy work relationship. ”

Tips to Answer confidently to this interview question

1. Frame the answer in a proper way and follow STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) or CAR (Challange/Conflict, Action, Result) method to describe the situation. A well-framed answer would showcase that you’re not making up any story and you have genuine experience of conflict management. 

2. Use phrases as I feel, I believe or I would like to in your answer to emphasize it and draw the interviewer’s attention. These phases also help to modulate your tone while speaking. It would increase your confidence while answering.  

3. While speak, keep calm and don’t rush. Also, don’t forget to mention that you want to help the team and tried to calm the situation. Show the interviewers that you have the ability to put your feet in other’s shoes. Mention your active listening skills that helped to listen to every team member and solve a conflict. 

4. Instead of focusing on the story too much, try to describe your course of action and approach to the conflict. It is important to mention your role in the team while answering. Always try to end the answer on a positive note and share a successful result. 

5. In your answer, be neutral. It should not sound like you were trying to defend someone in the situation and took an action. Your voice should be positive and neutral. You can also start in a manner like, ‘In a team, it is quite normal to have conflicts. Conflicts can also lead to some better opportunities if handles properly. So, I accepted the conflict and searched for the way out.’

6. Be specific about your answer and intent on how your conflict-resolution skill can help their company as well. Learn about the company and its work culture beforehand. 

Mistakes to avoid while answering

1. Make a General Story

A general answer or known story copied from the internet won’t help you to get the offer letter. You need to share your own experience and your skills to manage such situations when an interviewer asks you this question. A vague answer can get you to an immediate negative position. 

2. Mention that you have no experience

Experience has a large value in the job application. If you don’t have any experience, try to develop skills and discuss such a situation with someone who had this experience. You can get an idea and then frame your answer accordingly. 

3. Mention that you cannot handle conflicts

When an employer is likely to hire someone who has some definite skill set, your poor skills would only make obstacles. So, prepare the answer and opt for an interview only when you have developed the skills. As per Havard Business Review, employees should have at least 24% management skills.

Similar Interview Questions

1. Tell me about a time you resolved conflict in a team

2. How do you deal with conflict?

3. Can you recall a time of conflict with a coworker?

4. Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss.

5. Can you handle a situation where two of your team members have conflict?

6. How good you are with conflict management? 

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