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BLUF: What does the question from the interviewer/hiring manager tell about the working environment?

I had made it to a third interview with the VP and hiring manager and we did a few questions, which were routine enough though situational ("tell me about a time when") and then she asked: "Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a manager who didn't respect your expertise or knowledge."  I was honestly gobsmacked. Not only had I never been asked anything like that before, I sincerely don't know that I've ever experienced such unprofessionalism from a manager (the one in the question, not the interviewer.)  Was the question really telling me that, if selected, I would have to deal with unprofessional managers/peers who blatantly disrespect each other?

Smacquarrie's picture

Think of this question in different terms:
"Tel me about a time where your manager/supervisor didn't agree with your recommendation or course of action and how did you deal with that?"

If you take out the connotation you have with the phrase "didn't respect" and you should be able to put this into a frame of reference.
We have all, I am sure, had someone disagree with our chosen course of action and not all of them have been done in a disrespectful way but rather from a point of supposed understanding and authority.
I have had many of these, some where I was right and others where I was wrong.
How you deal with someone countering your decision says a lot about you as an operator and may provide some insight into how you will address the issue with the roles reversed.
I hope this helps.
Mac

ashdenver's picture

I do appreciate the insight and the change in verbiage really helped.  It's a shame that the question was phrased so poorly - I honestly could not think of a time when a peer "didn't respect my knowledge" but I can definitely come up with a half-dozen times when they didn't agree with my recommendation.  My lesson learned here is: ask for more context when presented with what seems like a baffling question.

gehrhorn's picture

Smacquarrie's answer is great. I'd have said something like, "I've been lucky enough where I've never worked in a job where there wasn't mutual respect. It's always been a non-negotiable value statement in the organizations I've been in. I think I can address a similar situation, where my manager didn't agree with my recommendation and how I dealt with it...."

ashdenver's picture

Gehrhorn, the tricky part was that I was speaking with a VP from a company I had previously worked. While it was in a geographically different location, I don't think I could've gotten away with saying that it was a non-negotiable value statement of the company for which she currently worked and for which I'd previously worked - when she's basically suggesting that it was a standard way of life for the organization in her view. The bottom line is that I probably should've asked her to give an example of what she meant.  When she said "didn't respect my expertise" I had visions of someone laughing in my face and calling me an idiot in a meeting - as a form of disrespect - rather than a simple "I disagree with what you're saying." I know I can be too literal in situations sometimes - words have meaning and "didn't respect" equated to "insult" for me. I did say something along the lines of "Gosh, I really can't think of a time when anyone was blatantly disrespectful toward me. Maybe I've been really lucky to work with good people my entire career but I honestly can't think of a time when someone was openly disrespectful."