Strategy Statement:

Just as 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 proactive in resolving workplace conflict. This is the opportunity to showcase your management or leadership experience and inspiration.

Knowing basics of conflict resolution would help to build a solid foundation to answer any question about conflict situations. Researcher Thomas and Kilmann in 1976 proposed five basic ways of addressing conflict:

Accommodation – one party must surrender to accommodate the other party. This is win-lose type of conflict resolution.

Avoidance – as the name suggests the strategy is to avoid conflict by ignoring it. Avoidance can be useful as a temporary measure but really dangerous long term solution and usually results in lose-lose conflict outcome.

Collaboration – Thomas and Kilmann viewed this as the only win-win solution to conflict. The approach suggests working together and finding a mutually beneficial solution.

Compromise – bring the conflict to third party arbitration. The aim of any conflict resolution is to reach an agreement and most often this will mean to compromise.

Competition – accept one party at the expense of another. This often can be done by involving management and letting them choose the winner.

The question clearly suggests Accommodation or Collaborations strategies to be used in the answer.

Sample Response:

I have found that any efforts toward conflict resolution without open collaboration are ineffective. Accepting responsibility, creating grounds for resolution, and following up--these are essential ingredients of conflict resolution.

Once I had conflict with my colleague regarding testing tools we been planning to use. He insisted on in-house solution while I felt strong on using existing third party test harness. While started as regular discussion around tools conflict quickly aggravated. I had to act fast and reached out to my colleague to have one on one meeting. During the meeting I made it clear that I do not question his technical expertise nor his ability to develop great in house solution.

However I iterated that his time is valuable and instead of building something we shell can buy it. At the same time he can concentrate on developing features which would advance our business. We spend two hours brainstorming new and innovative ideas he can work on and both were very happy with the outcome of this meeting. Moreover, during the review time my colleague remembered this situation and commented positively on my leadership skills.

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