Behavioural Interview Question – Tell Me About A Time You Had To Communicate With Someone Who Was Difficult

Tell Me About A Time You Had To Communicate With Someone Who Was Difficult

Behavioural Interview Question – Tell Me About A Time You Had To Communicate With Someone Who Was Difficult


In this post We will answer the Behavioural Interview Question – Tell Me About A Time You Had To Communicate With Someone Who Was Difficult.


We’ll cover:


  • A sneak peek into the mind of the interviewer and WHY they ask this

  • What to say when you’re answering

  • And a concrete example to get you thinking!



Conflict with people is inevitable in the workplace, with people having different communication styles and personalities it’s not something you will get around if you’re working with other people. So the interviewer really wants to know HOW you navigate it when someone isn’t peachy all the time or they might be difficult to communicate with or unwilling to cooperate. This is an obstacle that gets in the way of productivity and they want to hear about how you’ve dealt with it in the past.

How can you turn someone’s Frown Upside Down? (Cheesy I know).


So here’s how you answer:


You answer it by telling your story using:


  • The SARI Formula which we’ll go through here. SARI stands for (Situation, Action Result and interesting Features)

  • The SARI Formula stands for (Situation/Task, Action, Result & Interesting Features)

  • You want to tell a powerful story that paints a good picture of the situation, how you rose to the challenge and the end result.


DON’T LOVE READING? Watch video here:



If you do love reading, let’s get back to it…


Step 1: The Situation (setting the stage) So For Example:


I was working with the development team on the company website. I needed to guide them with what we wanted and they needed to do it. The head developer who needed to make the changes was a bit difficult to communicate with, and since there was a lot of communication needed between the two of us to get the job done successfully I knew we needed to do something about it.

Step 2: Action:


What were the actions that you took and what outcome did they lead to?

So for example: Action:


  1. I asked him how he prefered me to communicate with him? I.E. via email or in person, on the phone etc.?

  3. I asked him how much time he would ideally like for requests, since I wanted to consider his needs when working with him.

  5. I asked him if there was anything else I could do to make working together easier for him.


Step 3: Result 1


So the Result was: He didn’t respond well. He wanted to communicate via email but he was really non – responsive. He wanted a ton of notice for anything which was not always possible, he said there was nothing I could to make working together easier. He was really just grumpy and unhappy in general.

He was a great developer though and I knew I couldn’t give up because we would just be starting again from square one. We had a job to do together here.

So 2nd action I took was, asking him what was going on. I just got really real with him, just went and sat with him and brought him a coffee and said: “What’s going on with you? Is everything ok?” I feel like our working relationship could be better and I’d like to make sure that you’re ok because you don’t seem like yourself?

Result 2:


He broke down and told me that he was overwhelmed. He was having issues at home with his wife snoring and he couldn’t sleep properly, he said he hadn’t slept in weeks, he had big backlogs of work and high expectations on him to do a lot in short amounts of time, he apologized for giving me the cold shoulder and being so difficult to work with. He appreciated my concern and wanted to make a better effort to let me know where he was at with things.

Step 4: Bonus interesting features


Highlight anything interesting about the story – So for me the learning here was, that this person was actually not a difficult person to communicate with under normal circumstances. But the thing that was causing him the problem was 2 fold, both his lack of sleep and a lot of work was making him cranky and snappy. His communication skills were fine the problem went deeper than what was on the surface.

In conclusion


And there we have it: The answer to Behavioural Interview Question – Tell Me About A Time You Had To Communicate With Someone Who Was Difficult.


Can you think of a time you had an opportunity break down the communication barriers with someone?

How did you feel afterwards?

How did it turn out?

Nailing the interview questions is great! But There is a lot more to interviewing than just answering the questions.

In fact if all you do is answer the questions alone, you’ve already lost the interview.

There is a whole interview strategy at play and if you’d like to learn more you can get started with me by clicking the link below to grab my free guide:

Click here to subscribe

What you’ll get inside the guide:


  • Top-ten examples of stories that have proven to be impressive interview answers


  • The S.A.R.I. formula breakdown of how to answer these questions


  • The step-by-step of why it works


  • Fill-in-the-blank templates for each question so, you’ll be able to fill in the blanks and get going!


  • Now you’ll need to come up with your own stories! (You can steal the ones in the guide if they apply to you though too, I don’t mind)


If you are still getting stuck because you can’t think of your own stories…


I’ve included 25 questions that you can ask yourself to come up with your stories much quicker!


You’ll get all this in a beautifully designed workbook prepared specifically for you to prepare for your interviews.


By the end of working through this guide, you’ll be feeling confident and ready for any situational interview that comes your way!


Here is some feedback I’ve gotten from this guide, and I get new emails like this every day, and they NEVER get old!




By the end of working through the guide you’ll be totally ready for any situational interview question that gets thrown your way!

Click below and grab it now.

Click here to subscribe

Do you know one person who could benefit from the information in this post? If so, do your friend a favour and share this info with him/her.


And remember, the current system isn’t perfect, but you can outsmart it. I’m here to prove to you that you do have what it takes.


Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week back here in my digital corner.

In Work & Life
I’ve got your back!

-Natalie Fisher

9 comments on “Behavioural Interview Question – Tell Me About A Time You Had To Communicate With Someone Who Was Difficult

  1. After watching this, I HAD to leave a comment! I thought I had a great view on how to do this, but then after reading, I realized that when it comes to me I wasn’t handling with compassion. I focus so much on getting the job done. Thank you for your amazing content!!

  2. I have had a problem communicating with people for so long, and it’s been so difficult for me when people don’t like me or get along with me, this was very helpful thank you


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