There are no right or wrong answers to interview questions like, “What are the most difficult decisions you have to make in your position?” or, “Have you ever had to make a really tough decision at work?"
Employers ask these questions in job and promotion interviews just to check if you can handle a difficult decision or scenario when faced with one. They’re also curious about the types of decisions you find tough.
These are behavioural interview questions that are meant to find out how you handled various circumstances in the past. The rationale behind these questions is that how you acted in the past predicts how you would act in the future.
How to answer this question
In essence, the interviewer is evaluating your decision-making abilities. Give one or two real instances of challenging circumstances you have experienced at work while answering these questions. Then talk about the decisions you had to make to get things back on track. The following are some of the most difficult judgments that people in mid-management and senior management must make:
- Deciding who to terminate if layoffs become economically necessary
- Terminating well-meaning, but incompetent, team members
- Deciding who to promote when you have several great candidates
- Deciding whether you have to cut benefits that employees are used to receiving (like holiday bonuses) to help stabilize company finances
You want to come out as self-assured and capable of making important judgments in a calm and reasonable manner. Avoid using instances that make you appear unsure or indecisive.
Be as precise as possible with your response. List what you did, how you did it, and how your difficult decision benefited your team and your company in the end.
Also, keep your responses upbeat. “Even though laying off that particular individual was a painful choice, I did it in an incredibly professional way, and this decision eventually led to gains in efficiency and production throughout our department,” for example.
Refreshing your memory is the greatest method to prepare for questions that need you to recollect events and activities. Look over your CV and think of some unique circumstances you’ve encountered or projects you’ve worked on. You can utilize them to aid in the framing of answers. Prepare tales of instances when you effectively dealt with a challenging circumstance.