Regardless of whether you apply for a job of a manager, programmer, waitress, delivery driver, or assembly worker, you will always have interactions with other people at work. Some exceptions prove the rule, the so called jobs for lonely wolfs, such as a lighthouse keeper or archivist. Unless you apply for one of those, however, you will have to bear with your colleagues, and work as a part of a formal or informal team. Hiring managers are aware of that, and they will typically ask you at least one question about your ability to get along with your colleagues.
Before we look at 7 sample answers to the question, you should remember a few points. First and foremost, avoid short and extreme answers. Saying that you “love and respect everyone and never have conflicts with people” won’t help you get the job. Because it doesn’t work that way in a reality of the workplace. People face pressure and deadlines, and conflicts simply do happen.
Secondly, if you can, illustrate your attitude with an example. You do not have to talk for ten minutes about a conflict you had with someone and how you solved it. But you can briefly narrate a tricky relationship with a colleague, and how you managed to successfully cooperate with the person, regardless of the differences between you two. Or any other example that demonstrates you can get alone with others regardless of circumstances.
Lets’ have a look at 7 sample answers now. I tried to include a variety of responses in my selection, including two answers for people who actually find it hard to get along with others. I hope you will find at least one fitting answer in my selection, and it will help you to succeed in your job interview.
7 sample answers to “How well do you get along with others?” interview question
- Generally I get along well with others, but just like everyone else, I find it easier to cooperate with certain types of people. Having said that, I try to respect everyone, and can cooperate with people who do not share my values or worldviews. At the end of the day, we all try to achieve the same goal, the prosperity of the business, and in order to do so we have to work as a team. What I try to say here is that though I won’t become friends with everyone in the workplace, I am ready to cooperate with everyone, in order to achieve the goals of our team.
- Based on my experience from last job, I’d say I can get alone well with all sorts of people. We had a diverse team in the sales department, including people of different races, religions, age groups, and so on. But I actually enjoyed this diversity, and the challenges it sometimes presented in our cooperation. I believe it is important to stay humble and try to learn from other people, instead of thinking that we know more than they do. And I would like to have the same approach in my new job.
- Speaking honestly, I did not get along well with my colleagues, and it the main reason why I quit my job, and am sitting with you here today. In my opinion, it is important to share the workplace with people who share your motivation and enthusiasm for the job, people who try their best at work, and inspire you to do the same. It was the opposite in my last job. I was the only person who worked really hard, regardless of whether the manager was present in the office. Other people worked only when they had to, when someone observed them. I did not like such attitude, and we had some conflicts. I eventually decided to quit and look for a different working environment. And that’s exactly why I am here.
- This is my first job application, and it is hard for me to predict how I will get along with my new colleagues. You can be sure I will try my best. I will try to be attentive to their needs and wishes, and hopefully we can find things we have in common, things to talk about over lunch for example. But I also understand we will face pressure and deadlines, and the atmosphere can become tense in certain moments. I hope to be able to stay calm in such moments, but how my colleagues will react, and whether they won’t look for someone to blame for bad results, I cannot tell. To sum it up, I will try to build good relationships with my colleagues, but since I lack experience and do not have everything under my control, I cannot tell how it will eventually work out.
- Generally speaking, I can get along with everyone. I try to build bridges, not fences. What I try to say is that I always look for things we have in common with another person, instead of looking for things that separate us. And I focus on such things in discussions, and avoid sensitive topics, such as religion, politics, etc. What I like about corporate world is that we can all follow the same goal, for example to achieve certain sales volume or level of customer satisfaction. Such a goal unites people and makes it easier to accept the differences we may have in our opinions…
- I get along well with others, but I do not restrain from taking part in a constructive conflict, or even from initiating such a conflict. In my opinion, constructive criticism is extremely important in this work, and we should not restrain from it, just because it can temporarily hurt our relationship with someone in the workplace. Of course, we should choose our words cautiously when criticizing someone. Such a talk shouldn’t turn into a competition between two big egos… But at the same time I fell the responsibility to give feedback to my team members, and to question their work. It is part of my job, though some people may not like it, and it may have impact on our relationship at work.
- Speaking honestly, I still find it hard to get along with others. Without a doubt it is one of my weaknesses. Maybe it is because of my childhood, maybe because of some other reasons, but I still tend to focus on the bad things in others, and compete with them, instead of cooperating. As yo can see though, I am aware of my weakness, and the new job is my opportunity to try to do it differently, and finally find my place in some team. I also started to work with a psychologist, trying to overcome my mental blocks and change my attitude to other people.
Do not be afraid to admit your weakness
Hiring managers are not naive. They also work in a team, and have experienced their share of problems and conflicts with their colleagues. They aren’t looking for someone who can get along extremely well with everyone, for an employee who will never have a problem with another colleague. Because such employees do not exist…
If you have a problem with certain types of people, or struggle in certain situations, or for example have a tendency to start conflicts when an important deadline looms and you feel pressure, admit it in your interview. Acknowledging the problem is the first step of solving it. Tell the hiring managers about your struggle, and ensure them that you will do what you can to improve on it in your new job.
We cannot be friends with everyone, but we can respect them
An ethical vegan will hardly become a great friend with a notorious meat eater, just as a strict catholic won’t share Sunday meals with someone who mocks Jesus and the Bible. But such people can still cooperate in the workplace, and achieve great results as a team. As long as they respect each other, and focus on things they have in common, instead of things that separate them.
And this is exactly what you should focus on in your answer. It makes no sense trying to convince the interviewers that you are a crowd favorite, or can make friends with everyone. But you respect the values and beliefs of your colleagues, regardless of how far they are from your own beliefs, and want to build bridges instead of building fences…
Ready to answer this question? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- How do you handle success?
- Give an example of a time when you handles a major crisis.
- Tell me about a time when you wished you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague?