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Interview Question: "How Do You Handle Conflict in the Workplace?"

June 27, 2021

How do you handle conflict at work? Conflicts at work are inevitable--everyone at work will have conflicts at some point. With so many people working together in a single organization, it can sometimes be unavoidable. In fact, a lot of times, it’s your ability to deal with conflict in the workplace that can determine whether your career will be successful or not. Surprised? Well, I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying: “Without conflict, there is no creation.”

Quite a lot of people have worked in teams and most people manage to keep their cool at work. However, there will come a time when things might not be going perfectly well and there might therefore be conflict. This is why it’s necessary to know how you describe how you handle conflict in the workplace. In today’s blog post, I will be addressing how to answer the question “how do you handle conflict at work” as part of your interview.


Conflict is a natural part of life and a common occurrence at work. Interviewers ask how you handle conflict to assess your tolerance for dealing with difficult people, as well as your communication and problem-solving skills. They want to see that you are a positive person who can handle conflict rationally and professionally.


Perhaps it’s immediately obvious to you which conflict you want to tell the story of or perhaps your mind is drawing a complete blank. Get started thinking about which conflict to describe using the following tips.

  • Keep it relevant: Don’t deflect your answer or tell a story that’s irrelevant to the question at hand. Your story should be able to show how you resolve workplace conflict in a way that the interviewer will feel assured that you can logically and calmly solve such issues that may occur again in the future.
  • Show your problem-solving skills: You want to provide a story of an instance of adversity that particularly challenged you, testing your problem solving-skills.
  • Look for a positive outcome: Don’t tell a story of a time when you fell flat on your face from failing. Instead, look for instances when you made a deliberate decision to act and got a positive result. It’s okay to brag a little.


Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method when you describe how you handled a conflict in the workplace. Here is the 4 step format your answer should take to clearly describe your story:

  1. Situation: Briefly describe the situation in which conflict occurred. During the situation part of using the STAR method, your main goal is to provide context to your story so the interviewer can understand your experience and follow along.
  2. Task: In this section, state your role in the situation. This could take the form of a goal you were trying to achieve.
  3. Action: Tell the interviewer about the actionable steps you took to resolve the situation and conflict. These are concrete things you did.
  4. Results: To end your answer with a bang, describe the results of the situation after you took action to resolve it. The great result you saw because of your performance should assure the interviewer that you are a mature, professional communicator with patience. In the results section of the STAR method, you want to be very exact about the results you achieved.


  1. Don’t reply with how you never experience conflict.
  2. Don’t provide a non-workplace-related answer.
  3. Don’t give such a vague answer in which you don’t clearly identify the Situation, Task, Action, or Result

Want more interview prep? Check out our posts on: 

Interview prep for Founding Engineers

How to answer the interview question, what do you bring to the company

How to talk about a career change

How to talk about your long-term career goals

For other interview tips, check out our other posts on interviewing on the blog.

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