What Are the Most Difficult Decisions to Make?

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There are no right or wrong answers to questions like “What are the most difficult decisions you have to make?” or “Have you ever had to make a really tough decision at work?" Employers simply want to see that, when you face a difficult decision or situation, you are able to handle it. They also want to see what kind of decisions you consider difficult.

These are behavioral interview questions designed to discover how you handled certain situations.

The logic behind these types of questions is that how you behaved in the past is a predictor of what you will do in the future.

The Best Ways to Respond to Tough Questions

When answering these questions, give one or two concrete examples of difficult situations you have actually faced at work. Then discuss what decisions you had to make to remedy the situations.

You want to come across as confident and capable of making big decisions. Avoid examples that make you seem indecisive or uncertain.

Also keep your answers positive ("Even though it was a difficult decision to lay off that particular employee, I did so in an extremely professional manner, and this decision ultimately led to improvements in efficiency and productivity throughout our department”). Whatever answer you give, be specific. Itemize what you did and how you did it.

The best way to prepare for questions where you will need to recall events and actions is to refresh your memory.

Skim through your resume and reflect on some special situations you have dealt with or projects you have worked on. You can use them to help frame responses. Prepare stories that illustrate times when you have successfully solved a difficult situation.

Examples of the Best Answers

  • Decisions I have to make within a team are difficult, only because these decisions take more time and require deliberate communication between team members. For example, I was working on a team project, and my colleagues and I had to make a number of choices about how to use our limited budget. Because these decisions involved group conversations, our team learned how to communicate effectively with one another, and I believe we ultimately made the best decisions for the team.
  • As a manager, the most difficult decisions I make involve layoffs. Before making those tough decisions, I always think carefully about what is best for the business and my employees. While I do not relish making those kinds of choices, I do not shy away from this part of my job. A few years ago, I had to let some employees go due to the economic climate. This was a hard decision that was ultimately necessary for the good of the company and everyone working for the organization.

More Job Interview Questions and Answers

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