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How to Answer Interview Questions

The real secret how to answer interview questions about your relationship with difficult co-workers is answered here. Imagine an employer asking:

Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with or you didn't like.

These kinds of behavioral interview questions are more difficult to answer because you are being asked to pass judgment on someone.

What your interviewer really wants to know is:

  • How well do you get along with others?
  • How do you defuse tension?
  • How do you handle difficult people who you have little or no control over?
  • What are things you dislike about people?
  • How do you define a difficult person?

Let's face it.

In every work environment there are 1-2 people who say and do annoying things. And in some cases, someone's behavior is so out of line, you wonder why they haven't been fired by now.

Often times when malcontents get into the workplace, they are hard to get rid of, so they are tolerated.

Why are they tolerated?

Mainly because they do good work or they've been working there a long time. So, they feel emboldened to cross boundaries and push people's buttons.

But you still have a choice.

You can either allow these people to drive you nuts, or you can take appropriate action to defuse tensions.

So, how to answer interview questions like this without coming across like a whiner takes some forethought.

True Story: Judy was the accounting manager at a large warehouse of 300 people.

She did things strictly by the book, and was very controlling, inflexible, and condescending.

To put it bluntly, Judy was a giant pain in the...

The day she left the company there was dancing in the streets.

Across the hall from Judy was Colleen, the distribution manager.

Colleen was just the opposite...warm, friendly, and helpful.

Colleen had the difficult job of trying to keep her 150 retail outlets happy. This required an immense amount of patience and flexibility.

On occasion, Colleen's largest retailer missed the application deadline for sizable monthly rebates. This meant this retailer would have to wait another 30 days for payment.

And...this big box retailer didn't want to hear that they missed the accounting deadline by 2-3 days.

Most of the time, it was futile to go up the mountain to Judy's fiefdom to ask for an exception to her rigid payables policy.

But to everyone's amazement, Colleen was able to get exceptions with unprecedented regularity.

What was her secret?

Colleen took a personal interest in Judy and made an effort to befriend her. Most people did just the opposite...went out of their way to avoid Judy. Colleen discovered that Judy owned horses and spent the majority of her time outside of work riding and competing.

Colleen's sincere interest in Judy and her hobby softened Judy's attitude, and she willingly relaxed her payables rules for Colleen from time to time.

Did it work all the time?

No, of course not. Nothing works all the time. But, Colleen's efforts made the atmosphere in the office more tolerable and pleasant.

Remember this story as you ponder how to answer interview questions designed to get you to criticize others. It's easy to find faults in others. What companies want are solutions and harmony.

Show them how you do this...and the job is yours.

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