Conflict Management: A Stand-Out Skill to Highlight During the Hiring Process

May 29 2024 Posted by Zing Professional in Blog

Conflict management is a skill of increasing importance in the workplace and one that hiring managers are actively seeking from prospective employees. Managers, especially, must be able to show how they developed and utilized conflict management skills in past workplace situations. According to a study by Gartner, 57% of managers say they are fully responsible for resolving the conflicts of their direct reports. Hiring managers, therefore, are keen to find a manager who can perform this function efficiently and successfully.

A strong background in conflict management can make you a stand-out candidate with a unique and practical skill set. If you do not have the experience and examples yet to highlight this skill, we will explore ways to develop your conflict management skills over time. If you do have existing skills, we will examine how best to present these skills on your resume and in interviews to impress prospective employers. Overall, conflict management can help supercharge your career growth or help you land your dream job elsewhere.

What is Conflict Management? 

Conflict management is the process of resolving disputes between two or more parties. To be effective at conflict management, you must create a sense of understanding between the parties and address any underlying issues and concerns. It is about making all parties involved feel heard and accept the final resolution and next steps.

In the workplace, conflict can come in different forms. Conflict can happen between individuals or groups and can be work-related or personal. Even if the matter is more personal, the resulting conflict is still affecting the workplace and a great manager must step in and resolve it.

Workplace conflict can arise from a variety of sources, including competition over resources, communication issues, conflicting interests, cultural differences, and divergent working styles or personalities, among others. Managers need to be equipped to handle all conflicts with the right set of skills and practices.

How to Build Conflict Management Skills

Conflict management is a set of learned skills developed through practice and experience. First, make sure you understand the skills involved and have a firm understanding of how you need to behave when moderating and resolving disputes. Then, you can put them into practice.

Be an Active Listener

 To effectively resolve a dispute, all parties must feel like they have been heard. That is where active listening comes in. Active listening means genuinely hearing each party and ensuring that you understand their unique point of view. Mirror their vocabulary and word choice when explaining back what you have heard. Reiterating their word choice clearly shows that you were listening and communicates a deeper sense of understanding and empathy.

When listening, let the speaker talk without interruption. Keep eye contact and use your body language to convey that you are following along. When appropriate, ask questions to help them open up and expand on their feelings, rather than challenge them about specific issues. Building a sense of trust and connection is the goal of active listening.

Model Patience

 When listening to all the parties involved, the mediator models the correct behavior. Showing patience and remaining calm even if things get heated is important for conveying your sense of impartiality and adherence to fairness. For example, if one party is rambling for too long, let them talk and demonstrate active listening even if you really want to interrupt. As the moderator, you need to build trust with all the parties involved.

You can also model patience by not rushing to a judgment. Even if you have dealt with a similar, or even the exact same, conflict before, do not assume you know the answer right away. Instead, still go through the fact-finding process and listen to all parties involved before proposing a solution.

Be Impartial

If the issue is between your direct reports, your personal biases and preconceptions will surely impact your opinion. It is critical, however, to be as impartial as possible when serving as a conflict mediator. During the listening part, make sure you fully investigate the points of view of all parties involved. Listen to them and ask similar, open-ended questions to encourage more information-sharing.

When you are ready to propose a solution, do not place blame on one party. Instead, present a solution to the underlying issues without calling out a specific individual or group. You can still coach and work with the offending party, but it is important to present your solution as impartial advice and recommendations rather than a critical condemnation.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Before you are ready to practice serving as a conflict mediator, begin to incorporate these techniques, such as active listening and modeling patience, into other aspects of your life. Use low-pressure situations to hone your skills and develop good habits.

You can also read up on additional conflict management tactics or even take an in-person or online course to further your understanding. All this practice will help you develop a strong technique for when you are ready to put your practice to the test in a real-life situation.

How to Highlight Your Conflict Management Skills to Potential Employers

 Now that you have been practicing your conflict management skills in the workplace and have some strong examples to highlight your competency, it’s time to highlight your strengths to potential employers. If you have a skill section on your resume, adding conflict management is a wonderful way to alert interviewers and hiring managers. You can also include any specific courses you attended on your resume, if applicable.

When you are in an interview, the interviewer might ask specific conflict management questions, but you can also weave your experience into other answers. For example, bring up a positive mediation example when discussing your leadership style, your unique strengths, or a time when you were challenged. If you don’t have a chance to tell a conflict management story in your interview answers, you can ask about the importance of conflict management skills for the specific role when you go through your list of questions to the interviewer.

Prep your stories in advance so that you highlight the relevant conflict management skills you have developed and honed. Use a specific example from your past but discuss the solution you found rather than dwelling on the particulars of the problem. Never use real names or places in your story and keep the focus on how you, with your unique skill set, resolved the conflict.

You can begin to key the interviewer into your advanced tactics by using specific conflict management terminology, like active listening or modeling patience. Use the story to highlight the specific skills you have acquired. As always, when you tell a story in an interview, use the STAR method to keep yourself on track and your answer succinct. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Results. Quickly explain the conflict and discuss what your role was as the mediator. Dive into the specific skills you used in the process and what actions you took. Then explain the solution you developed and how the conflicting parties rallied around it to positive results.

By walking your interviewer through practical, real-life examples of conflict management successes, you can effectively show them that you have a much-needed skill set for their workplace.

Work with Zing to Find Your Next Job

 Conflict management is a skill set that employers are seeking from prospective employees. Now is the time to begin developing your skills and putting them into practice. Once you have a strong background in conflict management, you can highlight these skills to tell an effective and clear story of the added value you would bring to your future employer.

If you are ready to begin your next job search, talk to our experienced recruiters at Zing. Zing Recruiting and our parent company Peoplelink Group have over 35 years of experience connecting businesses with talented professionals in highly regulated industries such as specialty chemical, pharmaceutical, medical device, and financial services. Contact us today to get started on finding your next career.