We asked Jasmine Konsorada, CA, manager of the audit and assurance group at PwC, for tips on how to answer the question,
Tell me about a time when you faced a conflict and how you overcame it.
I always find this a tough question to answer because you have to discuss a time in your life when you were struggling. However, if answered carefully and thoughtfully, you can also highlight your strengths and leadership qualities. As a student, you should draw upon all of your life experiences, including examples from your volunteer opportunities and extra curricular involvements. If I was posed this question, I would respond in a way that would highlight my skills and not my weaknesses. It is also helpful to highlight a conflict that was caused by externalities (such as weather) rather than an issue that could have been avoided.
In school, I was the president of the Business Students Association (BSA), an umbrella organization to all of the associations and conferences within the School of Business, my team and I were the representatives to all of the business students on campus. The BSA holds an annual year end beer-gardens fundraiser and one year we had an unfortunate spring snowfall two days before the event and the university threatened to cancel the event due to the weather.
As president and leader of the BSA, I knew I had to step up and take the lead to address this conflict and solve it. I had the committee chair call meetings with the university and I worked with them to think outside of the box and come up with reasons as to why the event should proceed. I also met with the university facility management and brought up our concerns and opinions on how we could approach the issue. After several hours of negotiations and detailed discussions, they agreed to a solution and the team was on damage control.
Throughout this challenge, the entire BSA worked as a team to keep the event going. As a leader, I acted fast, I prepared, and I worked with others to ensure the event ran smoothly. I managed this conflict successfully because it was a record year for the BSA in profit, the university was happy with the event, and thousands of students enjoyed themselves on the last two days of university. In order to make this happen, it was critical to assess everything clearly and develop plans. The chair of the beer-gardens committee trusted me as his leader to ask for help, and together, we executed an extremely successful event.