Tell Me About a Decision That Was Difficult to Make. Did You Consult With Anyone?

Managers are always making decisions, including really tough ones like firing employees who aren’t working out, redistributing work when someone falls ill, making budget cuts, reporting to upper management that a project has failed, or promoting one person over another, to name a few. Interviewers want to see that you’re up to the task.

It’s also useful for hiring managers to see that you include others in your decision-making, rather than trying to make all the decisions by yourself. Work cultures are trending away from an overly hierarchical, top-down, command-and-control style of leadership. And a leader who relies on the input and expertise of subordinates and others in decision-making, also known as a collaborative leader, is often more effective and inclusive than those who do not.

For this question, you’ll want to recap the difficult decision, share your thought process around how and why you came to the conclusion you did, and tell the interviewer what actions you took, including who you consulted with along the way. You can sum it up by sharing the results of your decision-making for the team or project. For example, if you fired someone, was it due to an immediate ethics breach or a long, slow haul of inefficiency that included many conversations with the employee but failed to result in better performance? Was consultation with any staff, board, HR personnel, or outside counsel about your decision useful to you in making it? And how did the team operate after the person was let go? Was it a struggle to fill the gap? What did you learn or take with you?