I am going to an interview and one question is given to me I don't know how to answer it. What is a strong but positive answer to this question.

"What if this coworker is not your friend?"

  • 9
    "Then we probably won't socialize at work or outside of work. What does that have to do with performing work?"
    – paparazzo
    Jun 9 '15 at 17:54
  • 7
    What if what coworker is not your friend? Jun 9 '15 at 17:57
  • 11
    This question sounds more like a followup from another question. What is the context of this question? When you first start a job, I wouldn't expect you consider yourself "friends" with any coworker unless you happen to know them already. Certainly in the course of the job you will develop positive relationships with many coworkers. Some you may even consider friends after several months working together.
    – Brandin
    Jun 9 '15 at 19:29
  • 1
    "It would have no bearing on how I would treat them professionally or personally within the work environment. Every individual deserves to be treatee with respect. It is irrelevant if they are a friend or not."
    – Jane S
    Jun 10 '15 at 2:49
  • That's not a real question... And therefore this isn't really yet either... VtC as unclear.
    – mxyzplk
    Jun 10 '15 at 22:55

A professional should be able to work with anyone, whether they consider the other individual a friend or not.

Note that they didn't ask about enemy. That would imply either a dysfunctional workspace or a dysfunctional employee, more often the latter,and since I plan to never be the problem, and to try to follow the rule I gave above, anything I can't work past will probably involve management correcting the other party.

  • I was once asked in an interview to describe the worst possible co-worker I could imagine, and then the next question was how I would work together with that person nevertheless. In the end I got the job.
    – Philipp
    Jun 10 '15 at 12:02

I am assumming this a a follow up question because you must have said something that made them think you only worked well with friends. Or they may have had a bad hire who could only work with people he liked. It is not a common question however. But if I were looking to answer it based on what I said in the Previous questions, it would go aomething like:

I am well able to work with anyone whether they are personal friends or not. I treat everyone the same in the workplace and thus in the situation we just discussed, I would do exactly the same thing if the person were a friend or if they were not.

From there you might go on to discuss a particular time when you had to work with someone who was not a friend or who was even someone you personally disliked.


I don't need people to be my friends to work well with them. In fact, I have worked well with people whose guts I hate. Assuming that they don't lie to me about work-related matters and I have their cooperation when I need it, that is.

Given the choice of working with an incompetent friend and a competent colleague from hell, I'll pick the competent colleague from hell every single time. If I work with an incompetent friend, our friendship may be a casualty of the project and I don't want to take the risk of losing that friendship. If I work with the competent colleague from hell, I have good confidence that the project will be successfully completed. At which point, he just outlived - metaphorically speaking, of course - his usefulness and I will send him flying (without wings) back to where he came from.

I don't have to like them. I don't have to love them. What I have to do is work with them until it gets done and it gets done successfully. After which, all bets are off. I'll note that on occasion, I have changed my mind about people I had negative feelings about after seeing them in action. And vice versa.


"I prefer to keep my work and personal life separate. I find that it allows us to be the most productive as possible as well as alleviate any issues that might arise from different political/personal beliefs."

To impress them further:

"Having said that, knowing someone outside of work sometimes allows you to manage them a bit better. Having emotional intelligence is an important part of work because people have to like you if you want to lead. I intend on taking on a managerial role at this company and would rather lead on trust and respect rather than by fear and intimidation. If someone wants to be my friend and open up to me, I wouldn't reject that as long as it was within appropriate boundaries."

  • I think that saying that you could manage someone better if you know them implies you have preferential treatment for those you socialise with. It would not impress me on an interview panel, in fact the exact opposite.
    – Jane S
    Jun 10 '15 at 2:47
  • people have to like you if you want to lead you really think that?
    – njzk2
    Jan 7 '16 at 16:10
  • trust and respect != like
    – njzk2
    Jan 7 '16 at 16:11

"What if this coworker is not your friend?"

How about this:

I've work with many people some of them are not my friend, but I never have any problem that prevent me to work with them.

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