Strategy Statement:

Just like no interviewee is perfect, no person is blameless. The employer needs to get a sense that you are not above blame and are prepared to be pro-active in resolving workplace conflict.

Sample Response:

I have found that any efforts toward conflict resolution that do not involve the person most-responsible and/or accountable for the conflict are short-lived and perceived as a sell-out by others who are involved. I was once teaching a community college course where a racial term was introduced by one student and reacted-to by another. The atmosphere in the classroom became immediately tense.

The classroom was my responsibility, and I took accountability for this having happened. I immediately addressed the class saying that I had “something that needed straightening out” and that we were going to have a 5-minute break. I was quickly able to determine that the epitaph was accidental, but in quick-counseling witht the offending student, I was also able to emphasize how (whether accidental or not) the statement was still hurtful.

I suggested that during the break this student (a 45 year-old) seek-out the student who had felt targeted and apologize. At the end of class, I approached the targeted student casually made sure that things had been “made right”. A few weeks later I was able to find out whether the targeted student had felt that things were handled appropriately, and he affirmed that everything had worked out. Accepting accountability, directing a direction for resolution, and following-up... these are essential ingredients to conflict resolution.

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