Back to headlines

Q: How would you deal with professional conflict?

This interview question is fairly broad and is often angled towards senior sales professionals. It can relate to client relationships, management relationships and coworking relationships across the board. Although the question is open, it’s not a trick. Your prospective employer is simply trying to find out exactly how you would manage potentially tough situations.

Before your interview, you should think about any difficult working relationships you may have had in the past. Conflicting views in the workplace are not uncommon, and your potential employer wants to know how you’d deal with that kind of situation in theory, the behaviours you’d choose to remain collected to deal with situations in the best way possible – in a professional manner.

Based on the interview feedback we’ve received from the clients we work with, here are a few pointers that act as guides to help you answer the question: how would you deal with a difficult professional relationship?

Top tip: relate the question to your personal life

What seems to work is thinking beyond the context of working life when it comes to this question. Think about how you resolve conflict in your personal relationships, as the same sorts of elements will apply. This way – your answer will be perceived as truthful because it will be.

Potential answer responses:

“I will listen to an opposing point of view” Showing the employer that you can empathise and understand a situation before reacting presents you as a good team player. By actively listening, you can resolve the issue more efficiently by recognising the problem and figuring out the best solution.


“I will take frustrations seriously but not personally.” This response shows that you understand how to detach yourself from the personal aspect, and will deal with the matter professionally and not let it throw you off guard. You can always take yourself away from the situation and ask if there might be a better time to talk to a prospective (or a coworker) if you can sense a change in tone or frustrations arising.


“I will have a process in place.” If it comes to dealing with a somewhat challenging client, explain that you would like to understand the stages to go through if you may encounter an issue. By getting to know the company and the processes they already have in place, you are turning the question around and finding out more about them, which they will always appreciate.


“I once had a situation in my previous position…” If you can articulately explain how you have dealt with prior difficulties and overcome them, this will show the employer that you have prepared yourself well. Be careful to not slander anybody or speak negatively as this could potentially be misconstrued.

When candidates seek our advice, we always advise them to deliver themselves honestly and truthfully. Here, some guidelines that could help you articulate yourself better – but they should always relate to you personally.

If you fancy a chat with team enable about your thoughts on “how to approach difficult working relationships” or to chat about our latest roles, get in touch.