As this is a common question amongst the upper tier tech companies, I thought I'd seek some advice. The question typically goes in one of two forms: "Tell me a time when you had a conflict with a coworker" and the same respectively for a Manager. The wording may vary, but it boils down to this.
Background story: I used to work on one of the hottest tech companies and decided to join a smaller company for increased pay and better work-life-balance. I was interviewed by an ex-engineer of the said hottest company, who didn't seem impressed with me, but in the end the rest of the team vouched my hiring.
He was generally nice, but had some deep cultural traits, in which he was very raw with his feedback and his jokes are borderline rude. Over time, as we got to know each other better, he quickly became used to bringing up my weight as a form of mockery and emphasizing that I was lazy and did not try to lose weight. To add perspective, he was a very senior engineer with 15+ years experience in research/development positions and super skinny / active in competitive sports.
He was also a pretty good engineer, but not particularly someone whose ideas I would agree to. As time went on, his feedback went from 'suggestions' to 'demands and threats' and pretty much emphasizing negative aspects, lack of knowledge in certain domains (e.g testing/tdd). I tend to ignore these situations for as long as possible, because I understand how the league of the markets we are in is fairly small and one day he may be a decision maker in a company/team I want to join, so I try to keep things cool (win friends and influence people sort of thing) by not acting to offended by his jokes and/or asking for advice on how to fix my lack of knowledge in areas. However, this went a bit too far and I decided to reach my manager and speak my mind about it. My manager said he was a very experienced engineer and he was only treating everyone like robots but didn't mean to treat me badly. He said I should ignore his demands and focus on my work and that this other engineer was not my manager.
So, I did. I started ignoring his feedback and I noticed he tried to approach me in a more friendly tone, however, that didn't last very long. 2 weeks later, he informs everyone he is leaving the company to the next hottest company (I had already began interview with them as well.) At this point, I was still cool with him, even if I didn't think of him as someone I would want to be friends with, but was OK having him as a contact.
A few days before the engineer would be leaving the company, I asked by our manager to survey our customers for the solution that this other engineer was a lead on. The feedback (as was already known to us all) was mostly negative, because the solution did not solve the problem the customer was having. So after distilling the feedback to the team, over our internal and private chat room, I receive an email the day after from this senior engineer attacking me and my competence. I decided not to reply, but cut ties completely with this engineer, including stopping answering his questions and skipping his goodbye drinks. The situation is weird because my manager did not reply or openly say anything with regards to this email in my defense. I fear he held this other engineer in a pedestal and may take his accusations seriously.
A common interview question is:
Tell me a time you had a problem with a coworker and how you dealt with it.
How can I use this experience to answer that in an interview, and how can I spin this so I come across in the best way?
(preempting some comments tha may suggest to say I never had such a conflict, it would raise flags because I have 15+ years of experience).