In a perfect world, employees would always see eye-to-eye, but interviewers know it doesn’t work that way. Personality clashes and differences in opinion happen every day at every office, so hiring managers want to know how you handle these situations.
If you try to pretend you’ve never dealt with a difficult co-worker, they’ll see right through you, so be honest … to a point.
Keep It Positive
Saying unkind things about a former colleague or manager won’t get you anywhere but shown the door. No one wants to hire an angry candidate who holds grudges, so keep your response upbeat — no matter how you really feel about the person in question.
Provide an Example
Simply telling the interviewer your difficult co-worker was lazy doesn’t really explain the situation. Provide a specific reason — one that doesn’t make you look bad — working with the person was a challenge. For example, you could say they never pulled their weight on projects, so you were constantly forced to work overtime to pick up the slack.
Explain How You Solved the Problem
An ability to peacefully co-exist with a frustrating colleague is an admirable trait, but finding a way to resolve the problem is even better. Impress the interviewer by explaining the steps you took to get the situation under control.
Perhaps you took the person aside at the end of a particularly taxing project and explained their slacking caused you to endure a lot of stress to meet deadlines. During the conversation, you found out they left you with a lot of the work because they didn’t know how to do it. Consequently, you provided training during the next project, which got them up to speed and put an end to their negligence.
Share What You Learned
Working with a trying co-worker can be maddening, but it also helps you learn and grow. Share a takeaway from the situation, to show it made you wiser. For example, after finding out your presumably lazy colleague just didn’t know how perform certain tasks associated with the project, you learned to speak up when someone isn’t doing their fair share of work.
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