I’ve never been a good job interviewee. Quite frankly, I find most job interview questions constricting which in the past has made me nervous. I enjoy telling stories about my experiences, but they’re often ironic and hilarious which makes them difficult to share in a professional setting. Likewise they generally aren’t very applicable to the questions asked in an interview. But, I digress.
This past week I had the opportunity to interview for a sales position with a prestigious building technologies company on the East Coast. Prior to the interview I postulated possible questions and thought up answers for each of them. Having had numerous interviews before, I had some idea as to what to expect. I knew I would probably be asked a question about a time I led a group or a time I had an ethical dilemma. Unfortunately somewhere between the initial greeting and the first question, I had abandoned my mental profile I had prepared to share.
I went through several questions stumbling over words and probably not sounding very definitive. It’s not that I wasn’t confident, I was just uncomfortable. I think the question that did me in was a simple one: Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with another employee. I racked my brain for a few seconds and then delivered an answer based on an experience I had all the way back in high school. It probably wasn’t that great of an answer either.
After the interview concluded, I began walking home and contemplated some of my answers. I realized that I should have answered that very question much differently. If I had a do over, here’s what I would have said:
Honestly I couldn’t tell you. I mean I’ve had little conflicts with my siblings like everyone else does, but I don’t really have them in the work place. It’s not that I’m not-confrontational, it’s just that I don’t seek out conflict, I don’t try to start it, and I don’t try to get myself involved with it. I’d hazard a guess to say that the vast majority of people enjoy working with me and I think that is partly due to the fact that I make them feel confident. I’d like to think that I try to make the people I work with feel like their approaches to the work at hand matter.
I don’t know what kind of response an HR representative would have to that sort of answer. I’m not an HR rep and I don’t think like one either. If you are an HR rep, particularly at a large company, please let me know what your response would be. At this point, I would love any tips I could get.