Whether you're the hiring manager or the person interviewing, you'll need to a put a lot of weight into interview questions. If you don't ask the right questions -- or give solid answers -- the interview will be a total waste of everyone's time.
There are plenty of "gotcha" questions that intend to catch candidates off guard and see how you perform under stress. Others aim to shed light on personality traits, like Barbara Corcoran's favorite question to weed out complainers.
Interviewing for emotional intelligence
But really, the most valuable interview questions are those that can shed light on a candidate's emotional intelligence. Can they handle their emotions? Can they deal with different types of personalities? Even in the face of conflict and competing opinions, can they navigate interpersonal relationships to get things done?
In a survey of 800 people who have been responsible for conducting interviews, NetQuote explored which interview questions they valued most. Out of 14 possible questions, 69 percent of the hiring managers surveyed said one question was the most important: Tell me about a time you managed a conflict.
You'll notice this isn't even really a question. But it does provide enlightening answers into how a candidate works with different types of people.
Because no work environment is perfect. No matter how well-qualified you are for a job or how wonderful the workplace culture, conflict will inevitably arise. Knowing how to work with teammates in challenging situations is key to successful outcomes.
No matter what your level, you need an answer
It doesn't matter if you're not in a management position and it's not your "job" to resolve problems between other people. The conflict you share doesn't need to be a huge one that affected the entire team or workplace.
Talking about a time you butt heads with a colleague works perfectly. Of course, you should also share how you were ultimately able to find a way to work together despite your disagreement. Could you see where the other person was coming from, even if you didn't agree with their position? Were you able to articulate your own perspective with a cool head?
Learning how to read other people's emotions (and particularly your own) is a valuable skill -- inside and outside the workplace.