Question forms part of
Other interview questions that are similar
- Can you describe an instance where you had a differing opinion with your supervisor? How did you handle it?
- How have you managed a situation where you and your manager had conflicting viewpoints?
- Can you share an example of when you challenged your boss’s decision? What was the outcome?
- Describe a time when you had to disagree with your superior professionally. How did you navigate the situation?
- Have you ever had to stand up for your beliefs or ideas against your boss’s perspective? What happened?
- What is your approach when you feel that your manager’s decision is not the best one? Can you give an example?
- Can you recall a time when you needed to communicate a dissenting opinion to your supervisor? How did you ensure a positive outcome?
- How do you handle situations where you believe your boss is making a mistake? Share an experience you’ve had.
- Have you ever disagreed with a directive from your manager? How did you express your concerns and resolve the issue?
- Describe a situation where you had to push back against your boss’s idea or plan. What was your approach, and what was the result?
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.
So when looking at the interview question “Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss”, we can relate it back to these points:
- Can you do the job? – This question aims to assess your problem-solving and communication skills, which are essential in any professional setting. By asking about a time when you disagreed with your boss, the interviewer wants to understand how you approach challenging situations, negotiate, and find solutions while maintaining a professional relationship.
- Will you do the job? – This question can also give insight into your drive and motivation. It allows the interviewer to gauge how you handle disagreements and whether you are willing to voice your opinions and stand up for your ideas, even when it means challenging authority. (People with low motivation or drive in their role will not bother voicing their disagreement)
- Will you fit in? – Your response to this question can reveal information about your personality and how you might fit into the workplace culture. The way you handle disagreements with a superior can demonstrate your ability to collaborate, show respect, and find common ground. Additionally, it shows how adaptable and flexible you are in situations where your ideas or opinions may not align with those of others, which is crucial for a healthy and productive work environment.
How Best To Answer ‘tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss’
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: Begin by stating your thoughts and feelings about the importance of open communication, expressing concerns, or providing alternative perspectives in a professional setting, even when it involves disagreeing with a supervisor.
S – Situation: Describe a specific scenario where you disagreed with your boss. Keep the description brief, easy to understand, and focus on the context rather than too many details. The aim is to set the stage for your actions and role in the situation.
T – Task: Explain your role in the situation, emphasizing your responsibilities and the goals you wanted to achieve. This could be related to the team’s success, the company’s interests, or maintaining a good working relationship with your supervisor.
A – Activity (or action): Describe the steps you took to address the disagreement. This may include gathering information, seeking alternative solutions, or communicating your concerns to your boss. Explain the reasons behind each action and how it contributed to resolving the disagreement.
R – Result: Conclude by sharing the outcome of the situation, focusing on the positive effects of your actions. Use specific figures or statistics if possible, like improved productivity, reduced costs, or increased team morale. Emphasize the lessons learned and how the experience contributed to your professional growth.
Keep in mind that the B-STAR technique is a guideline, not a strict rule. Feel free to adapt the structure to best showcase your experience and effectively communicate your point in response to the question.
What You Should NOT Do When Answering Questions
Do not avoid the question.
Do not describe a failure (unless specifically asked).
Do not downplay the situation.
Do not overhype the situation.
Do not say you have no experience with the subject matter.
Do not reject the premise of the question.
Do not have a passive role in the situation.
Do not give a one-sentence answer.
Do not overly describe the scenario and miss the action
Tell Me About A Time You Disagreed With Your Boss – Example answer
Project Coordinator Example
I strongly believe that open communication and sharing differing opinions with supervisors are crucial for making informed decisions and fostering a collaborative work environment. In my previous role as a project coordinator, our team was tasked with developing a marketing campaign. My boss suggested an approach that I felt wouldn’t resonate with our target audience and could negatively impact our results.
As the person responsible for overseeing the project, I had to ensure its success. My objective was to address my concerns with my boss and propose a more effective strategy without undermining their authority. I took the initiative to research alternative marketing approaches and gathered data to support my perspective. After preparing a concise presentation, I requested a one-on-one meeting with my boss and shared my findings. I emphasized that my goal was to improve the campaign’s effectiveness and achieve the best possible outcome for our team.
After discussing my concerns and the proposed alternative, my boss appreciated my proactive approach and agreed to implement the new strategy. The marketing campaign ultimately exceeded our initial targets, leading to a 30% increase in leads and a 20% boost in sales. This experience not only reinforced the importance of open communication but also allowed me to develop a stronger working relationship with my supervisor.
Generic Disagreement Answer
I believe that staying true to a company’s values and mission is crucial for long-term success, even if it means disagreeing with the owner. In my previous role, the owner proposed a new direction for the business that I felt would prioritize short-term gains over our company’s values and long-term impact.
In this situation, my task was to express my concerns and recommend an alternative strategy that would better align with our company’s values and mission. I took the initiative to gather data and evidence to support my perspective before approaching the owner. We engaged in an open and respectful dialogue, ultimately finding a resolution that blended elements of both our suggestions and better reflected the company’s values and goals.
The outcome of this experience reinforced the importance of standing up for what I believe in and the value of effective, respectful communication, even in the face of disagreements. It also highlighted the benefits of finding solutions that balance short-term and long-term objectives while maintaining the integrity of the company’s mission and values.
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