Working Decisions

When it comes to work making decisions is crucial.

What was the last big decision you had to make?

The Real Question: How do you think through problems? Is your approach appropriate for this role?

Top-line Tactic: Give the interviewer a window into your decision-making process, stressing the particular type of reasoning that is most important for the job at hand.

Everyone makes tough decisions at work, but not everyone makes them the same way. This question is designed to get inside your head and figure out how you reason and weigh alternatives.

Answering should be fairly straightforward: be honest, pick a recent choice you made and talk the interviewer through the decision and your thought process in a clear, succinct manner.

Much depends on the sort of role you’re applying for. Is this a management position that requires an iron nerve to balance business objectives and human concerns? Choose an example of a time you had to weigh those trade-offs.

I had to decide whether to end a relationship with one of our suppliers. We’d worked together for years but the quality of the components they supplied had been declining for quite a while. We’d warned them several times, but there had been no improvement. I had a good working relationship with my contact and I knew that terminating the contract would be a blow to the firm, but my first priority had to be our customers, so after researching the alternatives I changed suppliers. It was a hard decision to make because I knew I was affecting other people’s livelihoods, but I still think it was the right way to go.

Are they looking for a math whiz to crunch numbers? In that case your best bet is to choose a situation where you made a data-driven decision. Pick a decision that allows you to highlight your quantitative skills as well as your ability to apply them in a complex human content.

The idea here is to select a decision you made in a domain that emphasizes the key type of decision making for the role you’re applying for. That may entail stressing your empathy and strong sense of people’s quirks, your analytical chops, your stomach for tough calls, your ability to think about the bigger picture, your coolness under time pressure, or your intuitive grasp of questions of design, branding or aesthetics. As always, if you find yourself struggling to fill out a hypothetical answer, the job description will show you the way forward.

Are they looking for a math whiz to crunch numbers? In that case your best bet is to choose a situation where you made a data-driven decision. Pick a decision that allows you to highlight your quantitative skills as well as your ability to apply them in a complex human content.

The idea here is to select a decision you made in a domain that emphasizes the key type of decision making for the role you’re applying for. That may entail stressing your empathy and strong sense of people’s quirks, your analytical chops, your stomach for tough calls, your ability to think about the bigger picture, your coolness under time pressure, or your intuitive grasp of questions of design, branding or aesthetics. As always, if you find yourself struggling to fill out a hypothetical answer, the job spec will show you the way forward.

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