It is always easier to listen to the so called “authorities” and follow the crowds, without thinking. The recent pandemic is a prime example of such a behavior, on a mass scale, and it may take years until we will see the full impact this blind obedience will have on both individuals and economies. Applying for a job, however, or for a place in a study program, you likely do not have problems of the world on your mind. You simply want to make a good impression on the interviewers, and get in. And you may face this question on your way, just like you may face other scenario-based questions.
Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers first. I include on my list both answers for employees and students, for people with and without previous working experience, examples from workplace and personal life, and even an answer referring to the pandemic. Pick one that resonates with you, and do not forget to read also my notes below the answers, for additional hints and explanations.
7 sample answers to “Describe a situation where you were not in the majority” interview question
- I recall such a situation from my last job in marketing. We had a small team in place, five employees, you can call it a working group. And we were working on an advertising campaign for one of the smaller mobile carriers in the country. And we just couldn’t agree on the target audience for our campaign. Well, actually I was the one who did not agree. I felt that we should target young people, below 18, and should choose our marketing channels accordingly, such as Tik-Tok or Instagram. Because, based on my research, I came to a conclusion that it was the right group to target. But other members did not agree, and wanted to promote the campaign across the spectrum. I explained them my point of view, showed them my data, and tried to convince them. But I convinced just one, and so we lost the vote, because three members vouched for different target audience. And that’s fine with me, because though I do not mind expressing my opinion, I also respect other people in the team and their opinions.
- Actually I’ve never really been in the majority. I am indigenous, and though we have all the laws about respecting diversity and about non-discrimination in place, you can feel that people look at you differently. And I’ve been fighting with it at high school a lot. Because I was different not only in my color of skin, but also in my religious beliefs and other important matters. Nevertheless, I’ve always respected the opinion and religion of other people. I was not in majority in almost anything, but I honestly believe it doesn’t matter. As long as people respect each other, and do not start conflicts or wars just because of having a different opinion on an important issue, it is fine for me to go my way, and follow what I believe into, regardless of what others think or do.
- In my opinion, it is extremely important to think critically, instead of just blindly following the masses, or opinions of the authorities. For example, the pandemic. Remember when it started? Many people went to the malls and bought hundreds of rolls of toilet paper. Others wore masks everywhere, even when they were alone in the car, or when walking in the nature. And these are just two examples of irrational behavior during the pandemic, from many I noticed. Instead of just blindly doing the same thing everyone else was doing, I went my own way. I wore the mask only when in contact with other people, and tried to limit the exposure to any negativity and fear-mongering in the news, or in my circles. It allowed me to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, which cannot be said about the majority of people…
- I recall such a situation from my last teaching job. I was the only one opposing tablets in the classrooms. Without a doubt, it was an old-school way of thinking. But I really saw more harm than good in using tablets at the elementary school. Sure enough, they can help with certain things. But they also take the attention of children away. I wanted the kids to give attention to me, and to their peers, instead of some imaginary world on the screen. As you can imagine though, I wasn’t in the majority. Other teachers and administrators supported tablets. In fact some of them were also addicted to their phones and tablets. But that’s how it goes. I still tried my best in each lesson, though I did not agree with everything. But I eventually decided to look for a job somewhere else, and I found your school. I know that both mobile phones and tablets are forbidden in grades one to four, and it is definitely one of the main reasons why I’d love to work here.
- I wasn’t in the majority in the last presidential elections. But look, I respect the democracy–in the country, in the family, in the workplace. I have my reasons for voting for the candidate, and honestly believed they were a better choice. But I still avoided political discussions with friends and relatives, because I prefer to build bridges, not fences. My candidate didn’t win, people decided otherwise, and I accept it. I won’t spend the next four years swearing and complaining. It is how it is, and I will continue focusing on being the best possible husband, employee, and citizen, regardless of who rules the country.
- I recall such a situation from my last job in a retail store with consumer electronics. The manager suggested that each sales associate would get a bonus depending on the sales volume they generated each month. And most people were happy about it, because they thought the harder they’d try, the more they’d earn. But I was the only one who opposed the idea. Because I immediately realized the drawbacks. For example, the unhealthy competition of sales associate. Or a customer looking to buy an expensive goods getting all the attention, while someone who came to get something worth $10 getting no attention from sales associates–which is a bad practice. And then you have envy, and worse atmosphere in the workplace, because people do not like to see their colleague earning 20% more money, though having the same job and working the same hours each month. I did my best and prepared a simple presentation, explaining all these risks to both the manager and my colleagues. And, after thinking about it for a while, most of them agreed, including the manager, and we kept the former model in place, when the monthly sales volume was considered collectively, and every team member got the same bonus at the end of the month.
- I recall leading a team of warehouse clerks in my last job of Logistics Coordinator. I came with an idea of reorganizing the entire warehouse, and changing the system of work. Because, after I did some modeling work and calculations, I came to a conclusion it would be more effective, and we would save time and resources in the warehouse. But people do not like changes. The clerks were used to their routines and opposed my changes. They protested, some even claimed they’d consider leaving the job if we proceeded. But I decided to move forward with the changes regardless, because of two things. First of all, they did not show any logical arguments why the changes would not yield the desired results. And secondly, because I was the manager, I carried the responsibility for the results. And while it is important to listen to the feedback from your subordinates, it is also important to make the final decision on your own, doing the best thing for the company, regardless of what others think.
Employees should share feedback but obey, managers should be able to decide regardless of opposition
Think about the job you try to get in the interviews. If it is a managerial or leadership position, you should talk about a situation when you were in the minority, others did not support your ideas, but you still proceeded, and made the decision, because you knew it was the best thing for the company. Whether others liked it or not was of a secondary importance to you.
On the contrary, when you apply for some entry level job, or even for a place in a study program, you should show a different attitude. Sure enough, you didn’t agree with something, you weren’t in the majority, and you explained why. But at the same time you respected your role in the team, or in the collective, and if other members voted for something else, you accepted the decision.
Examples from personal life can often beat example from the workplace
Hiring managers, and interviewers in general, may sometimes find it hard to visualize some situation you describe from your workplace. It can be because you aren’t the best narrator, or simply because the setting is foreign to them, and they just cannot understand it and imagine the situation.
This won’t happen when you talk about a situation from your personal life, such as from your relationships, or even a situation from the pandemic–something we all had to face and cope with. Do not be afraid to talk about such situations. As long as you demonstrate critical thinking, and ensure them that you do not just blindly follow the orders and masses, but can bring your own ideas onboard, they will be satisfied with your answer…
Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- Describe a situation when your work was criticized and how you responded.
- What’s the most difficult feedback you have received?
- What makes you stand out from other applicants?