Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult employee?

Difficult people are an inevitable part of life – and as a manager, your ability to deal with them in the right way is extra important.

You’d be surprised at the amount of useful skills you can demonstrate in answering this question well – as long as you can clearly explain the problem and adequately describe the resolution (and its impact). If in doubt, always follow the STAR technique

And don’t worry if things didn’t run smoothly in the example you choose to provide. It wouldn’t be a difficult situation if they did. In fact, hiding away from any slip-ups will only make your example come across as clichéd. Instead, use examples of specific challenges to show how you’ve learnt to better cope in similar situations that may arise in the future.

It’s also a good idea to prepare your example in advance – that way you should be able to leave any emotional bias out of it.

Right answer: ‘ I think it’s important to remember that determination can sometimes cause problems – even if the person means well. For example, I once managed someone who constantly met their targets – but their approach to teamwork wasn’t aligned with the company’s culture. Although they appeared successful, it turned out they were taking leads from colleagues and passing them off as their own. So I sat down with them to make them aware of what was wrong with that behaviour and stressed the importance of our collective team targets, rather than trying to work against each other. Not only did they turn things around, they also regained the respect of the team.