Interview Questions About Co-Workers and Supervisors
For the most part, the following questions may be asked to determine if you are a team player. Take a few seconds, when asked a difficult question, before you answer. An interviewer is not expecting you to have a ready answer. However, the Boy Scout Motto, "Be Prepared" certainly applies here as well. Here are some sample job interview questions and answers about facing conflict working on a team with co-workers and supervisors.
Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a co-worker who wasn't doing his/her fair share of the work. What did you do and what was the outcome?
I worked closely with Ann who, for the most part, always carried her fair share of the workload. During a stressful time, working on a project with a deadline, I realized Ann's contributions to the project were almost minimal. I made the decision to wait until after the project to speak with her. I'm glad I did because I learned she'd been going through a very tough time in her personal life and she appreciated my willingness to go the extra mile, so the project was completed on time. As a result, our ability to work well together significantly increased.
Give me an example of a time when you took the time to share a co-worker's or supervisor's achievements with other?
At my most recent position, one of my co-workers, Dan, did an outstanding job of calming an irate customer, solving the customer's problem and completing a sale. When our boss asked me how things were going, I told him everything was going fine and that Dan had just completed calming an irate customer and closing a sale. It was a win-win-win- for our boss, Dan, and the customer.
Tell me about a time that you didn't work well with a supervisor. What was the outcome and how would you have changed the outcome?
Early in my career, I had a supervisor (Judy) who was in a fairly good mood on Monday, but it deteriorated each day until, by Friday, the supervisor was finding fault with everything I did. I didn't realize, until I left that position, that I had been a contributor to the decline in her mood. Judy would ask me how my weekend was (on Monday) and during the week she would ask how it was going. I would tell her how much fun I was having (I was single) and how I was looking forward to the weekend plans.
After I left, I realized my life was in complete contrast to hers and I reminded her of it almost daily. When she asked the questions, I should have had a quick answer, and then asked her how she was doing!
Have you worked with someone you didn't like? If so, how did you handle it?
Yes, I've worked with someone whom I found difficult to like as a person. However, when I focused on the skills they brought to the job, their ability to solve problems and the two things I did appreciate, slowly my attitude towards them changed. We were never friends, but we did work well together.
Can you tell me about a time that you helped someone?
Most recently, we had a new hire (Paul) that was really struggling with getting to work on time, and I knew the boss (Harry) was getting irritated. Over lunch one day I explained to Paul how important it was to our boss for everyone to be there at least 10 minutes early. It was personal with the Harry, but you could really get on his bad side when you were frequently late. The new employee was grateful for the advice. At his previous employment, the boss was only concerned about the work getting done on time; he/she did not "watch the clock."
Can you tell me about a time that you misjudged a person?
There was a long-time employee (George) at my second company who was very gruff when he spoke to me. At first, I went out of my way to win George's approval. Then I realized that was compounding the problem. So I observed how he interacted with other employees and discovered I wasn't alone. He was gruff to most people. I quit trying to gain his approval and, in the process, discovered he'd learned his behavior from a former boss he'd had whom he admired.
How do you get along with older (younger) co-workers?
Suggested answer if your co-workers are older: There are times when I just know that a new way of doing something makes more sense to me; but, first hand, I learned that my "better way" may not be the best way to get the job done. As a consequence, I respect my older co-workers knowledge and I've learned how to make a suggestion at the appropriate time.
Suggested answer if your co-workers are younger: I quickly realized it was not my job to "parent" the younger people with whom I work; it was my job to get to know them and for us to find common ground where we could effectively work together. It took time, but the result was worth the effort.