This type of question is competency based and involves using the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Manna from heaven for any Six Sigma practitioners or business change managers. For everyone else it is a very difficult question indeed as the majority of professionals do not spend their working lives dealing with conflict in the workplace. A particularly difficult question for anyone working as a professional, such as an accountant or lawyer. Fairly easy if you are a planning consultant or architect…
If you are in a junior role this type of question will invariably involve you needing to use a situation from a sporting activity or similar in order to get your point across. Do not forget to employ the structured response technique as this is a competency based interview question.
Examples of Answers
“Whilst working as project manager at Rolls Royce our team identified changes to the industrial processes used to manufacture the specialised engine parts in certain submarine classes. The result of these changes would be redundancies and an alteration to the working conditions of about 12% of the workforce, including some senior management. The head of the plant in question was not in favour of making the changes and vehemently opposed them. Through careful negotiation with senior management and the plant manager we managed to agree a package that got us just about everything we had set out to achieve although a couple of concessions were made. These concessions did not impact at all on the alterations and improvements we had discovered, but did ensure good working relations with both the workforce and management involved. My part of this was the negotiation with management and the workforce.”
“Whilst at university and secretary of the horse riding club, we identified a dramatic saving that could be made if we moved our stabling from a farm to a specialist horse riding school on the other side of Lincoln. The cost savings were going to be about 40%. The president of the club opposed the move because of the strong ties between the farmer and the university which went back a long way. Through careful negotiation with the president of the club and a clear demonstration of the costs savings and benefits to recruiting more members who would then be able to afford the cost of stabling we managed to complete the project and we successfully moved to our new premises within two to three months. Our membership went up by 30% and we anticipated further increases in the years to follow.”