Job Interview Question: What Makes You Angry?

How to Answer Interview Questions About Getting Angry

Job Interview Meeting
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When an interviewer asks what makes you angry, he or she is trying to determine how you might react to stressful situations in the workplace, and how you might handle your personal emotions without letting them affect your performance. It is an example of a behavioral interview question, i.e., a question designed to show how you’d behave in a real-world situation at work.

Be prepared for employers to ask for specific examples of situations that made you angry, particularly in a professional environment.

How to Respond

Your answer should contain two components: first a description of the situation that angered you, and then a reference to how you processed the event and handled your anger.

Avoid bringing up a situation that involves a supervisor, since employers tend to side with management and may perceive you as an easily disgruntled employee. Try to present yourself as someone who, like most people, occasionally get annoyed by certain situations, but doesn't lash out in an outburst of anger.

For example, you might say, "When I'm on a tight deadline and working to finish a project, I get frustrated if I run into roadblocks, like if my Internet won't load or my partner is slacking off."

While you want to be careful about blaming others, you can mention certain office behavior that doesn't sit right with you, like if a coworker complains too much or misuses company resources. The key here is to discuss things that either negatively affects the company – for example, those misused company resources – or that give you the opportunity to show how you deal with tough situations gracefully. 

The most important aspect of your response to this question will be the way you describe how you handle your anger. Answers that emphasize a measured, controlled response are the most effective. Try to respond in a way that implies that you recognize your anger, but do not express it emotionally or dramatically.

If you're discussing a coworker's unethical or irresponsible behavior, explain how you may have calmly confronted him or her, and then provided constructive feedback. Maybe you offered a suggestion and then walked away before things got heated. Whichever anecdote you can provide, make a point of illustrating how you are a level-headed, rational employee who doesn't let his or her emotions cloud the workplace.

Best Responses for Management Jobs

Prospective managers might be asked this question to determine if they are tough enough to deal with problem employees. In those situations, you might describe how you dealt effectively with frustrating underperformers.

Be as specific as possible when discussing this problem – for example, instead of just saying that Bob tended to be unreliable, say that Bob missed several deadlines that required other coworkers to make up his work to meet client expectations. Then, talk about the steps you took to remedy the problem.

Don’t dwell on your frustrations. Talk about what was required to solve the problem and make the team more successful. Focus on behavior, not intrinsic qualities – it’s not that Bob was irresponsible or didn’t care about his teammates, it’s that he was late with his work.

It is especially tricky if you have strong personal feelings about the behavior in general – for example, if you’re an obsessively punctual person who feels that anything after 15 minutes early is late, it might be hard to discuss a report or coworker who was always the last person into every meeting.

For this reason, it’s also a good idea to choose your anecdotes carefully. Come to the interview prepared with some examples of things that made you angry in the past but don’t discuss anything that still makes you furious whenever you think about it. The last thing you want to do is to give the hiring manager the impression that you’re someone who can’t let things go, especially when it comes to dealing with problem employees. They may decide that the problem is you and opt for another, cooler-headed candidate.

Typically, you should state how you communicated directly with subordinates about problem behaviors or performance issues, and then set up a plan for improving performance. The plan should include consequences for continued poor performance, and how you may have partnered with Human Resources to devise the plan.