As part of Interview Intervention: Communication That Gets You Hired, I included what I consider the 14 most effective job interview questions an employer can ask a job candidate. While there are loads of great interviewing techniques and questions, I feel it’s important to balance time and effectiveness when determining whether a candidate and employer relationship will be strong long-term.
To aid in that effort, I identified the 14 I consider the most comprehensive—to gain the best understanding of the candidate’s overall fit in the least amount of time. I am gradually releasing these through the blog and today’s is Number Seven. You can see a complete list immediately by downloading a complimentary ebook from the milewalk website!
Effective Job Interview Question #7: “Describe a situation when you and a coworker (superior, peer, or subordinate) disagreed. Take me through the disagreement and how you discussed your viewpoint.“
This question is effective because it helps the employer determine a number of things such as whether the candidate has strong interpersonal flexibility skills, will get along with team members, is influential, is accommodating, and can compromise when appropriate.
The employer can also disguise the question using other variations such as “Tell me about a time when you needed to influence a coworker” and “Describe a situation where you needed to plead your case to a coworker.” Any variations along these lines will also yield the type of information the employer seeks.
I have a news flash for you. The best influencers in the world are not salespeople, slick-talking politicians, public speakers, or anyone else of that ilk. The best accommodators are not the spineless types or the best team players. People that can get along with others and have strong leadership and influencing skills all have two things in common—they are the greatest listeners and they are inquisitive.
Here’s why. The fastest way to influence someone or come to a compromise is to accommodate their need in a manner they think is best for them. The only way you’re able to do this is if you understand what their need is or where their viewpoint comes from. Impressing your viewpoints upon them will accomplish nothing if they are not receptive to other options or do not see the benefit for themselves.
I always tell people during discussions like this, “It matters more to me why you think what you think than what you think. Whether you are correct or not isn’t as relevant to me when I’m trying to help you. I need to understand why that’s important to you or why you think that or where you got your information.”
For anyone in the workforce, you will become a lot more influential if you learn the following lesson quickly. In business, it makes no difference what is correct. It matters far more what is practical and has the greater return on investment. Whenever you are evaluating, discussing, brainstorming, or whatever exercise you’re in the midst of, remember there exist political, social, economical, government regulatory, competitive (product features, price matching, etc.), and a host of other factors that ultimately influence the best solution. This holds true whether you work in a restaurant or a skyscraper.
When responding to these types of questions during an interview, you would be best served to explain to the interviewer that you have a particular philosophy whenever you disagree with someone. That philosophy should be to seek first to understand the other party’s viewpoint and why she thinks that, including many of the internal or external influences. (If this is not your normal inclination, I suggest you think back to situations when you were more apt to do this and cite that example in your response.) Once you are able to do that, you can focus on compromising or providing additional viewpoints, knowing much more information regarding why it is important to them.