How to Gracefully Handle Difficult People During a PwC Interview

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences, and dealing with difficult people during the process can add an extra layer of stress. However, if you’re interviewing at a prestigious firm like PwC, you may encounter challenging scenarios designed to assess your ability to handle complex situations. One common question asks you to describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult person. This article will provide you with insights and strategies to tackle this question effectively.

Understanding the Purpose of the Question

When an interviewer asks you about dealing with a difficult person, they’re not necessarily looking for you to badmouth or complain about the individual. Instead, they want to gauge your interpersonal skills, conflict resolution abilities, and emotional intelligence. PwC values professionals who can maintain composure, remain diplomatic, and find constructive solutions, even in challenging circumstances.

Selecting the Right Example

To answer this question effectively, choose a relevant example from your professional or academic experience. Avoid personal or family-related situations, as they may come across as unprofessional or inappropriate. Instead, focus on instances where you encountered a difficult colleague, client, or team member in a work or school setting.

Here are some potential scenarios you could use:

  • Working with an uncooperative team member on a group project
  • Dealing with an unreasonable client or customer
  • Collaborating with a colleague who had a conflicting work style or personality
  • Handling a situation where someone was resistant to change or new ideas

When describing the situation, be sure to provide context and background information to help the interviewer understand the dynamics and challenges involved.

Emphasizing Your Approach and Actions

Once you’ve set the scene, the most crucial part of your answer should highlight how you approached and handled the difficult situation. Here are some key points to include:

  • Active listening: Explain how you made an effort to understand the other person’s perspective and concerns, even if you disagreed with them.
  • Diplomacy and professionalism: Demonstrate that you maintained a calm, respectful demeanor throughout the interaction, avoiding confrontation or unprofessional behavior.
  • Problem-solving mindset: Describe the steps you took to find a mutually agreeable solution or compromise, focusing on common ground or shared goals.
  • Emotional intelligence: Highlight your ability to manage your own emotions and respond rationally, rather than reacting impulsively or defensively.

Use specific examples and anecdotes to illustrate your actions, rather than generalizations or hypothetical scenarios.

Highlighting the Outcome and Lessons Learned

Finally, conclude your answer by discussing the outcome of the situation and any lessons you learned from the experience. This demonstrates your growth mindset and ability to reflect on challenges constructively.

  • Positive outcome: If the situation was resolved successfully, explain how your approach contributed to a favorable outcome for all parties involved.
  • Lessons learned: Even if the outcome was less than ideal, highlight what you learned about effective communication, conflict resolution, or working with different personalities.
  • Personal growth: Discuss how the experience helped you develop valuable skills, such as patience, empathy, or the ability to see different perspectives.

Remember, the key is to focus on your actions, reactions, and the competencies you demonstrated, rather than dwelling on the difficult person’s behavior or blaming them for the situation.

Examples of Strong Responses

Here are a few examples of how you could effectively answer this question:

Example 1:

“During my internship at a marketing agency, I worked closely with a client who had very specific and sometimes unreasonable demands. Despite their abrasive communication style, I made an effort to actively listen to their concerns and understand their goals for the project. I remained professional and diplomatic, acknowledging their feedback while also providing rationale for our recommended approach. By finding common ground and focusing on our shared objectives, we were able to reach a compromise that satisfied both parties. This experience taught me the importance of emotional intelligence and effective conflict resolution skills in the workplace.”

Example 2:

“In one of my group projects at university, I had a team member who was consistently unresponsive and failed to contribute their fair share of work. Rather than confronting them directly, I scheduled a team meeting to discuss our progress and address any concerns or obstacles we were facing. During the meeting, I listened to their perspective and learned that they were struggling with personal issues that were impacting their ability to fully participate. With empathy and understanding, we redistributed the workload and set clear expectations for communication and accountability moving forward. This experience taught me the value of open communication, flexibility, and finding solutions that work for everyone involved.”

Example 3:

“As the project lead for a software development team, I had to navigate a situation where two team members had conflicting work styles and personalities. One preferred a more structured, deadline-driven approach, while the other favored a more flexible and creative process. Rather than taking sides, I facilitated a discussion where they could express their concerns and perspectives. Together, we established a hybrid approach that incorporated elements of both styles, with clear milestones and checkpoints while still allowing room for creativity and iteration. By finding a middle ground and fostering an environment of mutual respect and understanding, we were able to leverage each team member’s strengths and deliver a successful project.”

Key Takeaways

When answering this question during a PwC interview, remember to:

  • Choose a relevant example from a professional or academic setting
  • Emphasize your approach, actions, and problem-solving mindset
  • Highlight your interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and conflict resolution abilities
  • Discuss the outcome and lessons learned from the experience
  • Remain professional and avoid complaining or badmouthing the difficult person

By demonstrating your ability to handle challenging situations with grace, diplomacy, and a solutions-oriented approach, you’ll showcase the competencies that PwC values in its employees.

Tell Me About A Time You Dealt With A Difficult Customer! (Behavioural Interview Question & Answer!)


Can you give me an example of a difficult situation and how you handled it?

Some examples of situations you can discuss include: A time when you dealt with a lot of customer complaints and how you rectified the issue. A time when you had to work long hours to meet a deadline. A time when you had to deal with a difficult colleague when working on a project.

How did you handle the situation when you find it difficult to work with someone?

I talk with them and let them know what impact it has on business and other employees if they don’t want to do the job. After some training with them and show them how to doing, they understand and tried to be more happy and working.” I highlighted your communication and leadership skills in your response.

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