The interviewer asked, “Tell me about a time when you didn’t agree with a boss.”
Employers want to know how you worked with your managers in the past, especially if you had to have difficult conversations with them. People often think that you and your boss have had different ideas sometimes. If you know what to say about disagreements with past bosses, it can help you get ready for interview questions about them. This article talks about how to answer the interview question, “Tell me about a time when you didn’t agree with a boss,” and gives you some sample answers to look over as you prepare for your own interview.
Why employers want to know if you’ve ever disagreed with a boss
“Tell me about a time when you didn’t agree with your boss,” an employer might ask to find out how well you can talk to people. People at work often have different ideas, so this question is more about how you evaluate situations and talk about ideas that might go against what others are saying. Especially when you disagree with a supervisor, they want to know how you can show a lot of respect for management while still getting your own ideas across. Employers may want to know how you handle disagreements because they often lead to fights.
How to respond, “Tell me about a boss with whom you had a disagreement.”
Here’s what you need to do to answer this question:
1. Tell what’s happening.
You might want to tell your boss what’s really going on. You could talk about the goal of a project, your job, or what your boss suggested. Try to keep the details of the situation focused on your job duties and how you worked with your boss in this situation. Keep a positive tone when you explain what’s going on to show that you respect the leaders and what they decide.
2. Share why you disagreed
After giving an overview, you could say what you thought about your manager’s idea. Tell me about your critical thinking and how you disagreed. This can show hiring managers that you can look at different options and choose the one you like best.
3. Describe what you said to your boss.
Think about telling your boss what you did to talk about the different points of view. You may have set up a formal meeting to talk about your process and why you think your ideas might be better for the team or goals. Hiring managers can tell how much you respect your manager by how you thanked them and told them what you thought.
4. Discuss what happened.
Talk about how things turned out when you didn’t agree. Your boss may have listened to you, but then decided to do something else. In some situations, you might have changed your boss’s mind. This is a good way to show how well you can think critically. After talking about your different points of view, you could talk about what you did to show that you can do what you say you will do.
4. Share what you have learned.
Sharing what you’ve learned can show hiring managers that you can think about what happened and how it changed you. They might like that different situations can help you learn more about yourself and get better at what you do. You may have learned how to talk about different points of view better or why it’s important to do so in order to talk about all the options. Talking about a good solution shows how you can turn a fight into a chance to learn.
How to respond
Here are some answers you can use as models as you prepare for your interview:
Example 1: Having different ideas about how to do a job
“My old boss once told me to try a new way to market one of our best-selling items. We hadn’t tried this strategy yet, so I wondered if it would be better to try it on one of our less successful products. I set up a half-hour meeting with her to talk about how, since we depend on sales of our best-selling product, testing it on something else might help us develop the process and improve our strategy before we use it on our best sellers. So, we did it because she thought it might be a good idea. Then we realized that we had to change the copy templates before we could use them on the better product. Even though I was nervous, giving my opinion made me feel like I could do the same in other situations.”
Having a grudge against someone
“I was in charge of sales at my last job. My boss told me to give one of my salespeople a new account. He thought it might be a good idea, as a new salesperson, to help them improve their account management skills. I thought that someone else on my team who had worked with a similar client before might be better for the new account. I set up a time to talk with them about it and told them that since it was a new account, a knowledgeable representative could help us get along better. I suggested that we give the other worker more targeted training to help them improve their skills before they take accounts like this one.
My boss insisted that this person needed to learn by doing, so I gave the account to the person they suggested and met with them every week to answer any questions. Even though the employee had to do more work at first, they got better over time, and the client was happy. My boss thanked me for my ideas and the fact that I could work with what they chose.”
Example 3: Having different opinions about how well someone did
“During our annual performance reviews, my boss gave me a lower score than I expected for how well I worked with other people. Even though I usually work alone, I thought I worked well with others on projects and always talked to the different people who had a stake in each project. After the meeting, I thought about how many meetings I had planned and how many team projects I had worked on during the year.
I set up another meeting to talk about this before I signed my review. I told them what I had learned from my research and why I thought we should get a better grade for working together. He liked that, and then he told me that when I was working on my own, I should ask for help more often instead of trying to figure everything out on my own. He gave me a higher score, and we talked about how I could improve my work. Talking about it gave me the courage to speak up, improved my relationship with my manager, and helped me improve my skills in the long run.”