Answering the Interview Question: How Have You Built Bridges with a Difficult Co-Worker?



In this Going Deeper: Good, Better, Best series, we are featuring a set of articles designed to help you dig a little deeper into your interview answers. In this article, we’ll explore a question that reveals your ability to work well with others and collaborate.


Tell me about a time when you had to build bridges with someone you didn’t get along with?


Companies want people who can work together despite their differences and passionate opinions. At the end of the day, the Company is the one who signs your paycheck, so getting along and having a good attitude is essential. Yes, you might have some people around that don’t see eye to eye, but you need to let bygones be bygones and check your ego at the door.


Do you have the ability to build bridges? Can you appreciate another person’s viewpoint? Can you listen before casting judgment when dealing with others?


Sometimes Veterans get used to not questioning authority due to the rank structure involved in military service. Sometimes, people within specific rank categories (i.e. Officers, Warrant Officers, NCOs, Enlisted) can respectfully disagree. We also sometimes ask for permission to speak candidly and express our thoughts without fear of retribution. We all know the importance of chain of command and how to navigate this structure.


In interviews, you’ll need to demonstrate your ability to work with people of different levels within an organization regardless of what position they hold and how you respectfully embrace diverse viewpoints. Potential employers want to see that you can speak candidly and effectively when handling a difficult situation.


How well you can communicate your ability to get along with others for a common goal is essential. You need to provide specific examples of that difficult person who didn’t wish to cooperate. How did you manage to get the job done? How did you choose your words and open your ears? How did you improve your listening habits, earn trust and support them so that you could fully understand their point of view?


If you think about things you’ve done in the past, you can probably find one or two examples that would make for an outstanding response to this important interview question.


Be ready to explain what made this particular situation so challenging. What “people skills” did you need to rely on in order to accomplish the goal? Where did you find “common ground” and a “Win-Win”?


When explaining how you built bridges with someone you didn’t get along with, keep it positive! Walk the person through the story and explain the details carefully. Show the most emotion when you get to the end result of mission accomplishment. This is not a question about throwing a person under the bus; it’s all about how you convinced them to work with you to prevent the bus you’re both riding in from crashing.


Please feel free to share any examples you have demonstrating Collaboration.



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