Interview Tips

How to Answer: How Do You Handle Working with People Who Annoy You?

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By: Josie Steffey
Sep 8, 2020 • 7 min read

How to Answer: How Do You Handle Working with People Who Annoy You?

This question can feel like it is a trap when initially mentioned – either way you answer it, there is the potential to be painted in a bad light. If you are honest, you end up bringing up a negative scenario, thus putting you in a position to be perceived as not a team player. However, if you answer too positively, it can be taken as fake and ingenuine. The truth is, everyone has pet peeves, and coworkers can only bring that out more as time goes on. There are always going to be people like the coworker who continually complains about their paycheck, the boss that takes credit for your work, or the manager that is a little too happy all the time. All in all, working with people who annoy you can be tough. How do you communicate your personal stance while still maintaining a professional yet authentic image? Keep reading to find out!

people who annoy you

What is the Interviewer Really Asking?  

The interviewer wants to know a few things when they ask this:

  • How do you deal with and manage frustration in the workplace?
  • Are you an employee that can problem-solve when it comes to interpersonal conflict?
  • Will you be a good fit for the team/company?
  • Will you be easy to get along with at work? 

Overall, employees that do not manage anger or stress well are harder to oversee and work with. The interviewer wants to be assured that you will add to a healthy and positive workplace dynamic.  Negative attitudes and workplace drama are a surefire way to bring down morale and motivation in the workplace. So, the last thing they want to do is hire someone who adds fuel to the fire. 

Give a Specific Example When Answering

  • Replying with a vague answer (for example, “I don’t let it get to me”) doesn’t tell the employer anything except that you are avoiding the question. Provide an example that happened at a previous job or a hypothetical scenario that may push your buttons. The interviewer will be able to see more clearly what it is that you find challenging to work with and how you respond to it. It will better answer the implicit questions associated with the original query. Specificity makes your answer more believable, relatable, and authentic. This will help you go far in the interview process. 
  • Make sure to mention annoyances that connect back to the workplace. An answer like, “I don’t like when people chew loudly” could very well be true, but has little relevance when it comes to workplace dynamics and relationships. Use this time to bring up a pet peeve or concern of yours that will reflect your professionalism and experience.

people who annoy you

Showcase Your Patience and Conflict-Resolution Skills

  • This question has the potential to demonstrate the positive effects that may have come from a not-so-positive circumstance. Don’t end by answering what annoys you, but instead continue to briefly explain how you went/would go about addressing your frustration. This could include mention of conflict-resolution skills, such as confronting a coworker about an issue in a respectful manner. Patience may be another route to consider displaying. It is a virtue that is highly sought after, but even more, it shows that you are not easily irritated by the small things. It provides a glance of a positive characteristic (which you may naturally possess or have had to learn over time) that would contribute to a more peaceful work environment. 
  • However, you choose to answer this, make sure to highlight healthy ways of dealing with relational conflict. Listening to understand, remaining calm and respectful, asking questions when needed, and addressing an issue with an unbiased third-party present are a few good examples to consider including in your response.

Be Honest and Positive

  • Be honest, meaning actually consider things that people who annoy you do in a workplace situation. Do not just blow off the question by stating that nothing bothers you. Nothing could be further from the truth! Everyone has something that makes them a little more hot-headed than usual, and denying this aspect of humanity will paint you to be a phony and dishonest candidate. Authenticity is valuable; do not underestimate its power!
  • Be positive, meaning don’t end on a negative note or keep venting about a coworker’s less-than-ideal qualities. This is not an outlet to release some of that pent-up frustration. Use this opportunity to show your growth despite the difficulty that workplace annoy may have brought on. 

people who annoy you

Sample Answers

“I have found that I am annoyed when people complain about their job. It really brings my mood down and makes me not want to be there. In the past, when this happened at my previous job, I told this person in a respectful manner that I cannot be around that kind of dynamic. When they did not stop complaining, I changed where I ate lunch so that I would not be around them during my lunch break. When I did have to work with them, I ignored their negative comments and changed the subject instead. Then we were able to communicate in a more positive and uplifting manner.”

“Because I know I get irritated when others are late to work, I clearly communicate my expectations and inform team members of the consequences of tardiness. I ask and assess what I can do better to encourage punctuality, and then I listen to understand how to help them, so the problem doesn’t happen again.”

“It bothers me when team members do not contribute equally to the same project. I find it is unfair to others and myself when someone doesn’t carry their own weight. To help my teamwork more efficiently, I would designate a certain task to each member. I communicate a due date and expectations to ensure that we are all on the same page. If they still do not complete their part in the project, I would talk to them and inform my supervisor of the issue”. 

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