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Here’s the Secret to Answering “Tell Me About a Time You Had a Conflict With Your Boss” in an Interview

By | Jenna Jonaitis |

Being asked, “Tell me about a time you had a conflict with your boss,” in a job interview can feel like a trick. Is the interviewer just fishing for reasons to disqualify you? Are they trying to hint that your potential new boss is unusually conflict-prone? How are you supposed to answer, anyway?

Don’t panic! This prompt is actually just a straightforward example of a behavioral interview question. Behavioral questions are designed to get you talking about a past experience in order to give the interviewer a real-life look at how you approached a challenging situation—in this case, a conflict with your boss.

By describing how you handled a conflict in the past, you give the interviewer insight into how you’d handle one in the future—demonstrating your maturity level, your communication skills, and your willingness to speak up against authority figures. As we often said around my recruiting office, “Past performance is the best indicator of future performance.”

What Kind of Conflict Should You Talk About?

“Everyone occasionally disagrees with their boss,” says Chaya Milchtein, a career coach for women and LGBTQ people in the automotive industry. Depending on your years of experience, you might have several scenarios to choose from. Should you talk about when you disagreed with your manager about a business decision? Or the time your boss called you out in front of coworkers?

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