Tell me about a time when you had to deal with office politics
- 1 Tell me about a time when you had to deal with office politics
- 2 Other interview questions that are similar
- 3 What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
- 4 How best to structure your answer to this question
- 5 What you should NOT do when answering questions
- 6 Tell me about a time when you had to deal with office politics – Example answers
- 7 Other Interview Question and Answers
Other interview questions that are similar
- Can you describe an instance where navigating workplace dynamics was crucial to your success?
- How have you handled a situation involving conflict among team members at work?
- Share an example of how you managed to maintain professionalism amidst a politically charged work environment.
- What strategies have you employed to overcome challenges presented by office politics in achieving project goals?
- Describe a time when you had to use your diplomatic skills to resolve a power struggle within your team.
- Can you provide an example of how you successfully mediated a dispute between coworkers to maintain team harmony?
- How have you navigated a situation where office politics affected your job responsibilities or career progression?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
There are probably an infinite number of questions that the interviewer could ask you on the day. Some questions are incredibly common appearing in almost every interview you will have, while other questions you might hear once and never again regardless of how many jobs you apply for.
Fundamentally though all interview questions are really trying to find out one of 3 things:
1 – Can you do the job? (Do you have the skills/experience needed?)
2 – Will you do the job? (Do you have the drive/motivation to get the job done?)
3 – Will you fit in? (Does your personality match the workplace culture? Are you likeable?)
That’s it. Those are the 3 things that the interviewer is trying to ascertain. Every question that is asked of you will fundamentally be trying to resolve one (or more) of these 3 things.
When you’re faced with a question about dealing with office politics, it’s essentially touching on the third point: Will you fit in? This type of question gives you a golden opportunity to demonstrate your interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and how you navigate complex social environments within the workplace. Your response can showcase your ability to maintain professionalism in challenging situations, resolve conflicts diplomatically, and foster a positive work environment, all of which are critical to a harmonious office culture.
How best to structure your answer to this question
Unless the question you are asked is a straight ‘up or down / yes or no’ style question then you are going to need to learn to describe, expand and elaborate on your answers. The best way of doing this is to follow the B-STAR technique for answering interview questions.
Answers using this method follow the below structure:
B – Belief – What are your thoughts and feelings with regard to the subject matter? Your beliefs provide insight into how you perceive and react to office politics, showcasing your values and conflict-resolution style to the interviewer.
S – Situation – What was going on? Briefly explain the scenario that was taking place. – Try not to spend too much time describing the situation. The bulk of your answer needs to be about you and what you did so keep the situation simple to understand and even simpler to describe. This helps interviewers understand the context of your actions and how you navigate complex social dynamics at work.
T – Task – What was your role in the action? Most of the time it is best that you are taking an active rather than passive role in the encounter. Illustrating your role in the situation demonstrates your initiative and leadership in dealing with office politics, which are qualities employers value.
A – Activity (or action) – What did you do? Detail the steps you took and why you took them. – This should take up the bulk of your time answering the question. Your actions reveal your problem-solving skills and ability to maintain professionalism in politically charged situations, indicating how you’ll handle similar challenges in the future.
R – Result – How did everything end up? Try to use figures if possible (e.g. we cut costs by $3m, customer satisfaction scores increased 25%, failures reduced to zero, ice cream parties increased ten-fold etc.). Sharing measurable outcomes from your actions not only quantifies your success but also shows potential employers the tangible benefits you can bring to their team, even in the face of office politics.
Remember though that the B-STAR technique is descriptive not prescriptive. You do not need to follow this flow strictly, go with what is best for your answers and that will allow you to put your point across and show your experience the best.
What you should NOT do when answering questions
Do not avoid the question. Addressing it directly shows you can handle difficult conversations about office politics.
Do not downplay the situation. Acknowledging its complexity demonstrates your understanding of workplace dynamics.
Do not overhype the situation. Keeping a balanced view shows your ability to stay objective under pressure.
Do not give a one-sentence answer. Expanding on your experience provides insight into your problem-solving skills.
Do not overly describe the scenario and miss the action. Focus on your actions to highlight your proactive approach in navigating office politics.
Do not have a passive role in the situation. Illustrating your active involvement showcases your leadership and initiative.
Do not forget to mention what you learned. Sharing your learnings shows growth and the ability to adapt from experiences with office politics.
Tell me about a time when you had to deal with office politics – Example answers
Example Answer 1 (Detailed)
In my previous role as a project manager, I strongly believed that clear communication and empathy were key to navigating office politics effectively. I found myself in a situation where there was a significant misunderstanding between two team members over project responsibilities, which was causing tension and impacting the team’s morale and productivity.
I was responsible for leading the project and ensuring that the team worked cohesively towards our goals. Recognizing the potential for the misunderstanding to escalate into a larger conflict, I knew I had to act quickly and decisively.
I initiated a series of one-on-one conversations with each team member involved to understand their perspectives and feelings on the matter. I listened actively, acknowledging their concerns without taking sides. Then, I organized a team meeting where everyone could openly discuss their viewpoints in a controlled and respectful environment. My aim was to facilitate a constructive dialogue and find a common ground. To prepare, I outlined key discussion points and established ground rules to ensure a productive conversation.
Through this process, we were able to identify the root of the misunderstanding, which was largely due to unclear communication about project roles and expectations. Together, we agreed on a more structured way to assign and communicate tasks, including regular check-ins to prevent similar issues in the future.
As a result of these actions, not only was the immediate conflict resolved, but the team’s overall communication improved significantly. This led to a 20% increase in project efficiency and a notable improvement in team morale. More importantly, the team members involved in the conflict reported feeling more supported and valued, which strengthened their collaboration on the project and beyond.
This experience taught me the importance of addressing office politics proactively and the value of fostering an open and empathetic team culture. It reinforced my belief that many workplace conflicts can be resolved through effective communication and a willingness to understand each other’s perspectives.
Example Answer 2 (Shorter)
More Sample Answers…
The examples provided above can serve as a foundation for creating your unique answers. For additional inspiration, our new guide includes five sample responses to this question and over 250 answers to all of the most common interview queries.
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