Job Interview Question: Have You Ever Had Difficulty Working With a Manager?

During a job interview, the interviewer will ask you a lot of different types of questions. One of these questions regards if you ever had difficulty working with a manager. This question is considered tricky because it asks you to talk about situations in which you encountered issues with a supervisor. Also, the interviewer is looking for specific examples of situations. In this blog, we will walk you through the question and why the interviewer is asking you this. Also, example answers are discussed.

Make sure you are prepared for other frequently asked job interview questions as well. Also, common job interview questions should always be prepared before your job interview to make sure you make the best impression possible. Check our job interview checklist here.

Other ways the interviewer can ask you questions to find out more about how you handle conflicts at work:

  • How do you deal with conflicts?
  • Tell me about a time you had an issue with a colleague
  • Describe a time when you disagreed with a decision from your boss
  • How do you deal with different opinions within a team?

Why is the interviewer asking about if you ever had difficulty working with a manager

The interviewer is looking for specific example situations in your career in which you encountered difficult situations. The goal of the question is to find out and assess if you’re a reliable and agreeable employee. By asking how you handled the situation, he or she is able to determine if you can approach such situations as a professional and leave emotions out.

It’s common for most employees to encounter some sort of conflict at work during their careers. The interviewer knows this as well, and that’s also the reason that this question is often brought up. The way you handled situations in the past is a good indicator of the behavior that you will show in a professional setting in the future. Also, the way you answer the question will indicate to the interviewer how you speak on past employers. If you come across as someone who might be a difficult employee to work with, the chance of getting hired will not be great. The interviewer wants to find out if you are able to resolve differences in the workplace in a professional way. Therefore, make sure to prepare your answers thoroughly and show that you’re a professional that can handle situations in a professional way.

How to answer job interview questions regarding difficulties working with a manager

Just like any other common job interview question, there are points that you can emphasize and points to avoid answering this question. Below you will find what you should focus on and what to avoid.

Points to focus on

Exclude emotions in your answer. Your goal is to stay professional throughout your answer. Also, realize that an emotional answer could backfire and leave a negative impression of yourself. If you can look at work situations from the past in an objective way and discuss what needed to be solved and what the outcome was, you will make a better impression.

Provide specific examples. Provide the interviewer with a short and concise answer without adding unnecessary details. Also, use a positive tone of voice and always avoid negative undertones. In addition, describe to the interviewer what strategy you applied to address the difficulty of working with a manager.

Include positive results. Use an example situation where you took positive actions to reach positive results. Also, include words such as respect, listen, compromise, resolve, solution, etcetera. Also, mention how you were able to work past the conflict or difficulty.

Share what you learned. It’s always good to share something that you learned from handling a dispute or any other issue you might have had with a manager or supervisor.

Mistakes to avoid

Negative examples. Do not use example situations that led to you and your manager or supervisor stop working together. This is not a great solution to a conflict that you should share.

Don’t criticize, keep it objective. The interviewer cannot verify any of your statements and negative comments about past employers. Therefore, this is not the way to go. Only discuss the facts when talking about an example situation and keep it professional.

Avoid putting yourself in a negative light. Don’t use examples that show unresponsible or questionable behavior on your part. In other words, avoid talking yourself out of your chances of getting the job.

Don’t emphasize frequent conflicts. Avoid at all costs that the interviewer might get the idea that you face issues on the regular in work situations. You do not want to leave the interviewer under the impression that you’re someone who’s difficult to get along with.

Sample answers to job interview questions about if you ever had difficulty working with a manager

Below you can find sample answers that you can use as inspiration to structure your own answers.

Sample Answer 1:

‘In my previous job, I worked with a team manager, where I initially had difficulties getting along with. With regard to my job performance, I got less feedback than I got from other managers in my career, which made it difficult to meet expectations at times. This made it hard for me to evaluate my performance, as well. In the beginning, we had some disagreements, but these were based on misunderstandings.

I requested a meeting with him and asked if he could provide me with more direct and specific feedback on work that needed to be done. He understood what I asked him, and from that day on, we were on the same page in terms of expectations. We had a successful working relationship for over three years after that meeting and worked together on multiple projects. Eventually, he got promoted, and I got a new manager to run the team. What I learned from my previous experience is that I should take time to discuss management styles with new managers and make sure that expectations from both sides are clear.’

Sample Answer 2:

‘At the start of my career, I had a manager that I had a difficult start with. This was caused by differences we had in the approach and expectations of daily workflows. We had a one-on-one conversation about it, and both gave our points of view. At the end of the conversation, we realized that we basically had the same goals and that we were actually very compatible. We were able to work successfully together for several years after, and she even promoted me to project manager of her team.’

Job Interview Topics – Common Job Interview Questions & Answers

Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Adaptability
  3. Admission
  4. Behavioral
  5. Career Change
  6. Career Goals
  7. Communication
  8. Competency
  9. Conflict Resolution
  10. Creative Thinking
  11. Cultural Fit
  12. Customer Service
  13. Direct
  14. Experience
  15. Government
  16. Graduate
  17. Growth Potential
  18. Honesty & Integrity
  19. Illegal
  20. Inappropriate
  21. Job Satisfaction
  22. Leadership
  23. Management
  24. Entry-Level & No experience
  25. Performance-Based
  26. Personal
  27. Prioritization & Time Management
  28. Problem-solving
  29. Salary
  30. Situational & Scenario-based
  31. Stress Management
  32. Teamwork
  33. Telephone Interview
  34. Tough
  35. Uncomfortable
  36. Work Ethic