Decision-Making Interview Questions: Guide on How To Answer With Examples
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated September 12, 2022 | Published August 17, 2021
Updated September 12, 2022
Published August 17, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
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It's useful to prepare to answer questions about your decision-making skills for a job interview in any role or industry. Many employers may be interested in understanding how competent and comfortable you are with making decisions. These skills are especially crucial for those in managerial or leadership roles, as these positions may require you to make complex or high-level decisions. In this article, we discuss why employers may ask about decision-making skills, provide a step-by-step guide for answering and share potential interview questions with sample answers.
Why do employers ask decision-making interview questions?
Many positions, especially managerial roles, require excellent decision-making abilities. An employer may ask decision-making interview questions to assess how well you can solve conflict and take action. Employers may ask these questions in a job interview to understand your methods and strategies for making challenging decisions. Your answers to these questions can demonstrate whether you can handle decision-making in the workplace and if you've had success with it in the past.
Decision-making skills to discuss during an interview
The ability to make good decisions relies on several skills that employers use to find the best candidate. Consider highlighting these decision-making skills during your interview:
Critical thinking helps you analyze facts and observations about a situation. This is useful for making well-informed decisions. People with excellent critical thinking abilities can also use reason to choose between several options to pick the best choice for themselves, their team or the company. You can mention critical thinking skills in your interview to show that you have experience with evidence-based decisions.
Analytical skills help you categorize information and interpret observations to draw conclusions. It's useful to share your analytical abilities because this reveals you carefully consider options when making decisions. Mentioning your analytical skills may help interviewers assess how you might benefit their company.
Read more: Analytical Skills: Essential for Every Job
Observation is data you collect through your five senses. When making decisions, it's important to gather information, which you can do by observing your surroundings. During the interview, emphasize the importance of noticing details in order to perform your job well. Highlight an example of when you've made an important observation.
Problem-solving skills are useful for making important decisions regarding project management or business operations. This ability involves assessing options and considering all variables to reach the best solution. Strong problem-solving skills enable you to decide quickly and thoughtfully. Discuss your ability to resolve issues because this is a valuable skill in the workplace, regardless of your role or industry.
Leadership is the ability to guide and organize a group of people. Leaders are comfortable and confident in making decisions and show consideration for how their decision may affect others. Employers seek leaders not only to be decision-makers but also to help guide employees toward achieving company goals.
Creative skills help you develop unique solutions. Viewing a choice or issue from different perspectives provides valuable insight into decision-making. Show these creative skills during an interview by giving examples of unique resolutions you've implemented.
Examples of decision-making interview questions and sample answers
Use the following examples to help you prepare for your interview:
1. Can you describe a time when you made a difficult decision?
This question aims to assess your problem-solving skills and ability to evaluate a situation to make the best possible choice. In your answer, try to provide a specific example and highlight your process for making an informed decision.
Example: "When I was in college, I worked on a team project with a small group. For our last meeting, one team member didn't show up. We still had to put the finishing touches on our project, and we were unable to contact the missing individual.
The team and I discussed our options. We decided that waiting might only waste what little time we had left. We focused on our assigned work, and once we finished, I suggested we split up the missing individual's assignment among ourselves. We finished the project together and turned it in the next day."
2. What decision-making process do you use when working with a team?
Employers may ask this question to determine your ability to collaborate. For many professions, it's crucial to make decisions as a team. Show your ability to assess options and show consideration for those who the decision affects.
Example: "I feel that to make a group decision, it's most effective to organize members in a meeting, identify the problem, brainstorm solutions and discuss the benefits and risks of each option. At my previous school, we experienced weeks of regular school closures due to snow days. This made it challenging to prepare students for testing. The principal organized a staff meeting to discuss how we could address this issue. I suggested we extend school hours by an hour each day to provide additional time for our lesson plans.
After discussing the advantages and disadvantages, the staff agreed on this idea, and we wrote up a letter to propose this to parents. They agreed with my idea and determined this to be the best option to prepare students with everything they needed to know by the end of the school year."
3. When did you make a decision to take initiative?
The aim of this question is to assess your willingness to accept additional responsibility and perform necessary tasks unprompted. Taking the initiative is a good sign of leadership, and it's useful to show employers that you possess this ability. When answering this question, provide an example and highlight your leadership abilities.
Example: "In a previous position, I had just started working at a small office. The owner was an older gentleman who preferred to keep physical copies of everything, leading to crowded filing cabinets and disorganized messes. I advocated for digitizing our records, but he insisted against it. The day I realized we lost important client information, I knew I had to make a decision for the sake of the company. If the situation stayed the same, we would continue losing private client information.
In my spare time, I scanned our documents and created alphabetized folders for them. Doing this upset my manager, but I guided him through my document setup. I showed him how easy it was to use. He eventually thanked me for my work and appreciated my commitment to improving internal business functions."
Related: How To Prepare for a Job Interview
Tips for answering decision-making interview questions
Here are tips you can follow to answer questions about decision-making:
Describe your process
When answering a question about your decisiveness, start by explaining any techniques you use. Consider the steps you take when making decisions. For example, you may gather information, identify the issue, brainstorm solutions, and test the best option. If you use tools to help with this decision-making process, such as a SWOT analysis diagram, mention this in your answer. This tool enables you to assess a situation's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to make an informed decision. It's a great way to show you're organized and logical when making decisions.
Provide an example
It's useful to provide an example whenever answering a question during an interview. This offers proof to a potential employer that you're capable of effective decision-making. Recall experiences where you arrived at a beneficial decision in a professional setting. For example, you may have taken over team management in a manager's absence or developed a strategy for a project.
When answering the question and providing an example, briefly explain the situation and the tasks you completed. You can then talk about the action you took and its outcome. Ensure you provide an example of a decision you made that had a positive result.
Discuss the results of your decision
To demonstrate your abilities to think critically and make informed decisions, provide details about the results of these choices. Talk about how your decisions benefitted current or previous coworkers, clients or companies. This can help potential employers visualize how you may help their company be more successful and achieve their organizational goals.
Deliver your answer confidently
For decision-making interview questions, it's important to use body language to express your confidence. Being confident leaves a great impression on the interviewer and makes you more memorable to employers, which may increase your chances of gaining employment.
You can show confidence by using good posture and making eye contact with the interviewer, both when they ask questions and as you provide answers. Take the time to think through your answer so you can form concise, detailed and relevant responses. This is a sign of an excellent communicator and may impress the interviewer. It's helpful to practice responses to interview questions ahead of your interview to deliver answers quickly and confidently.
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