Question 21 – Describe a situation when you had to communicate a message to someone knowing that you were right and they were wrong and reluctant to accept your point of view.
This type of competency based interview question is more difficult because you need to think of a situation when there has been conflict of some sort and of course this is much harder to do and to portray in the right way to reflect positively both on you and the interview. There are a lot of different scenarios that could be used including academic, sporting and at work and as always the best examples to give are work based ones provided that you are viewed in a positive way during your description and that there are not too many negative issues. Examples of scenarios would be difficult customers, management team decision making, decisions to be made with suppliers, questioning clients, persuading a professor that your answer was in fact correct, making a decision as an umpire or referee in a game, or leading a sports team and needing to persuade the team of the reasoning behind a decision you have made.
Examples of Answers
“Whilst working at Jones’ Medical Practice I identified quite early on as practice manager that there were two procedures the receptionists were using to process patients that could be speeded up and improved. The first of these was the telephone booking system which was not tied into the system used for repeat appointments for patients, and secondly the appointment system used for externally based medical practitioners such as health visitors and nurses.
At one of the first management meetings I went to I identified these to the doctors and I could immediately see that they were extremely reluctant to accept that these points made the working practices of the receptionist inefficient and time consuming.
I managed to persuade the doctors to accept my recommendations for improvement, which included using an IT based solution, after providing them with evidence of how much time and money could be saved by ensuring that the processes were improved. The outcome was that the doctors took on board my recommendations and the practise was soon seeing the benefit of cost and time savings.”
“When I was umpiring a cricket match between two local teams it became apparent that the weather was likely to affect play. The cloud was very low and although it was not raining there was a lot of dampness in the air and the ground was getting very slippy. After a fast bowler slipped whilst making his run up to bowl I consulted my fellow umpire and suggested that it was now dangerous to continue. My fellow umpire did not agree with me and the rules of our league dictate that both umpires have to agree in order for play to be suspended. I felt quite strongly about this and was concerned for the welfare and safety of both the players and ourselves as umpires and through gentle persuasion of my colleague I was able to persuade him of the need to suspend play. I demonstrated to him how slippy the pitch was and gave him a couple of examples of when other matches in similar occasions had resulted in injuries to a couple of bowlers as well as one batsman.
Play was suspended and in fact the match finished early because the weather got worse rather than better.”