Being able to effectively handle challenging conversations is an essential leadership skill. But is there a way to assess someone’s conflict competence – or any other leadership competency, for that matter – BEFORE you hire them?
Here, as example, are some conversation-starters you can easily add to your upcoming interviews:
- “People don’t always agree. And those disagreements can sometimes become uncomfortable. Please share an example of a conflict you experienced at work…and how you worked through it.”
- (Part A) “Different things ‘trigger’ different people. Please share an example of a time that YOU were triggered by someone…and how you dealt with it.”
- (Part B) “What helps you NOT get triggered?”
- (Part C) “How do you help others who you’ve inadvertently triggered regain their composure?”
- “Please share an example of a time when you avoided addressing a work issue because of the conflict you felt it would’ve caused…and walk me through your decision process.”
- “Please share an example of a workplace conflict you unintentionally may have caused – or was blamed for causing…and how you dealt with it.”
- “Please share an example of how you worked through an issue with someone you disagreed with that resulting in something excellent happening.”
- (Part A) “On a scale of 1 to 10 (1=low; 10=high) how would you rate your conflict management skills? Why?”
- (Part B) “On a scale of 1 to 10 (1=low; 10=high) how would OTHERS rate your conflict management skills? Why?”
The key is in your thinking about whatever competency you want to focus on, where (what scenarios) that competency would be needed, and asking the interviewee to share an experience of theirs that illuminates how they thought, felt, and/or acted in such a scenario of their choosing – and then asking whatever clarification or followup questions you need to fully understand their example.
By doing so, you can then pretty easily determine if the answer they provided sufficiently demonstrates the competency you’re looking for – in a sufficiently relevant context – or not.
Give it a try and let me know what you learn.