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Question
Posted by: cc | 2011-02-01

Interview questions

How do you approach a question to deal with a situation when you had a conflict at work and how you resolved it?

How do you deal with a situation when you had to do at least 4 or more urgent tasks at work?

Please assist, I always battle with these kind of questions in an interview.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

There is no right answer to such a question, and many potential wrong answers. The questions you quote would want to get an idea of how do you deal with conflict ( seek appropriate help, try to negotiate / or use nuclear weapons ? ) or How do you work out priorities when there are several potential priorities on your desk ?
As Purple wisely points out, they'd like to hear something based on an actual example you have encountered. If you have never met such a situation, say so, and ask whether they'd like you to try a more theoretical answer, or vary the question.
I remember when interviewing applicants to medical school in Canada, I asked one guy who said he had been working, in the previous 3 years, in a cement factory testing whether the concrete / cement mixtures they qwere producing, met minimum safety standards, what he would have done in a sitation where the tests showed the product to be unsafe, but his bosses urged him to fudge the results and declare the stuff to be safe for use in buildings. He looked a bit puzzled. He said, "But that's exactly what happened." What troubled me was not how he had chosen to handle the problem situation ( there could have ben a number of suitable ways ) but that he didn't even see that there was potentially any problem whatever - now THAT was indeed a wrong answer. If he couldn't even see a problem in a situation which could have lead to the death of innocent people, he was in no way suitable for us.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Hestia | 2011-02-02

On your second question it is my experience that they normally like you to prioritise according to who sent you the task. Eg the task you receive from a CEO is much more important than something you need to assist a collegue with. If you have a call at the same time you can take a message and return it when you have more time and as agreed upon. Hope this helps. I once read a book called " 5 minute manager"  it actually covers a lot of these questions

Reply to Hestia
Posted by: Purple | 2011-02-01

The point is to give an example of when you were in that situation. IF you don''t have an example, rather say so, they will have spare questions. IF you make it up, they will just keep on pressing for specific details until you have to admit you haven''t been in such a situation before an that does not go down well.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: Smith | 2011-02-01

1) Try and keep an objective mind when dealing with the conflict of interest. Should you not be able to, seek advice from a more senior and preferably 3rd party person as to how to deal with the situation - this shows that you are not afraid to ask for help when you need it.

2) Prioritise the list of urgent tasks from most urgent to least urgent. Advise all parties involved when you intend to get their specific tasks completed. Stick to the indicated deadline and if you are not going to meet the deadline, advise the parties accordingly.

Hope it helps.

Reply to Smith
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011-02-01

There is no right answer to such a question, and many potential wrong answers. The questions you quote would want to get an idea of how do you deal with conflict ( seek appropriate help, try to negotiate / or use nuclear weapons ? ) or How do you work out priorities when there are several potential priorities on your desk ?
As Purple wisely points out, they'd like to hear something based on an actual example you have encountered. If you have never met such a situation, say so, and ask whether they'd like you to try a more theoretical answer, or vary the question.
I remember when interviewing applicants to medical school in Canada, I asked one guy who said he had been working, in the previous 3 years, in a cement factory testing whether the concrete / cement mixtures they qwere producing, met minimum safety standards, what he would have done in a sitation where the tests showed the product to be unsafe, but his bosses urged him to fudge the results and declare the stuff to be safe for use in buildings. He looked a bit puzzled. He said, "But that's exactly what happened." What troubled me was not how he had chosen to handle the problem situation ( there could have ben a number of suitable ways ) but that he didn't even see that there was potentially any problem whatever - now THAT was indeed a wrong answer. If he couldn't even see a problem in a situation which could have lead to the death of innocent people, he was in no way suitable for us.

Reply to cybershrink

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