What do you do when you disagree with your line manager?

  | James Innes


What do you do when you disagree with your line manager?

Alternative and related questions:

What would you do if you disagreed with a decision taken by your line manager?
Would you make your opinion known if you disagreed with a decision taken by a superior?

The meaning behind the question:

Ostensibly, you might think the interviewer is testing to see how subordinate you are. This isn’t really the case though. It’s not to an organisation’s advantage to be filled with people who never question authority – or who never voice their opinion. What the interviewer is really looking for is to identify the manner in which you would express your disagreement.

Your answer:

A lot depends, of course, on precisely what it is that you disagree with. Is it a minor issue which boils down to a matter of your judgment against theirs – or is it a more serious situation which could potentially call for your having to go ‘over their head’ and discuss the matter with their superior.

You want to avoid talking about the second possibility. Build your answer around the scenario of a minor disagreement and place the emphasis on how you would use your communication and interpersonal skills.


Inevitably there will be times when I disagree with my manager’s point of view – or with a decision she has taken or intends to take. In my current role, my manager welcomes input from her team and, while I appreciate that it isn’t appropriate to openly disagree with her, I will query issues in private with her as necessary. There may be factors leading to her decision of which I am unaware. Alternatively, once we’ve both discussed our thoughts, we may simply agree to disagree. I have to respect that, at the end of the day, it remains her prerogative to make a decision whether I agree with it or not – and to support her in that course of action to the best of my ability.

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