Answering the question, “What are the hardest choices to make?”
When you’re interviewing for a job, you usually have to talk about how you make decisions and solve problems. Employers may ask you about the hardest decisions you’ve had to make at work and how you made those decisions. Knowing why employers ask about hard decisions and having a plan for how to answer them can help you prepare for upcoming interviews. This article talks about how to answer questions about the hardest decisions you’ve had to make at work and gives you some examples to help you think of your own answer.
Why do employers ask, “What were the hardest decisions you had to make?”
Hiring managers often ask about hard decisions you had to make at work to learn about your professional priorities and how you think about work. A hiring manager can learn about your values by asking you to name some of the hardest decisions you’ve had to make at work. They can also tell what kinds of tasks you think about more when you have to make a choice. This question can help hiring managers figure out if you are serious about the most important parts of the job and if you have the same long-term goals.
Interviewers may also ask about the hardest decisions you’ve had to make so they can see how you’ve handled problems in the past. How well you handle tough situations at work can be shown by the kinds of decisions you talk about. By giving examples of hard decisions you’ve made in the past, you show hiring managers that you’ll be able to make confident decisions on important issues as part of their team.
How to answer, “What are some tough decisions you have to make at work?”
Here are some ways to answer questions about what kinds of work decisions you find hard:
1. Decide what you want to talk about.
As you write your answer, think about the kind of choice you want to talk about. Talking about common workplace situations that apply to many jobs can help the interviewer see you as a team player. With the STAR interview method, you can talk about a specific time when you had to make a decision and how your actions led to a good outcome.
2. Choose an example
Consider using an example from your work history. Think about a few times when you had to make a hard decision and what made it hard for you. Try to show the interviewer how you decide what to do and how you think about things with your answer. This can help them understand how you might handle tough decisions at work, especially if they are similar to the one you just talked about.
3. Explain what took place.
Talk about the decision you made and what happened as a result. You can talk about what you learned from making that choice and how you can use that knowledge to make better decisions in the future. Focus on how making a tough choice helped your team or a previous employer to show the interviewer that your ability to do so is a plus.
How to answer “What are the hardest decisions you have to make at work?”
Look at these examples to get ideas for how to answer questions about having to make tough decisions at work:
“One of the hardest decisions I have to make at work is whether or not to let someone go from the team. I like what everyone brings to the table when we work together, and before I decide to fire someone, I always look for other ways to help them improve their performance. I also know it’s important to be fair to other people on the team who meet their performance goals, and I want to be able to use my time in a productive, fair way for the whole group.
When I’ve had to think about firing an employee in the past, I’ve always told them how they could improve and what would happen if they didn’t. This made it easier for me to make a decision because I knew I could take responsibility for the situation while giving them the tools they needed to stay on the team. It also showed the other people on the team how much I value them and how seriously I take all decisions about firing people.”
“I find it hard to make decisions about the company’s finances because I know they can affect the business in both the short and long term. I always try to make good use of my budget so that my team has everything they need to reach their goals. When I have to make a decision about money, I like to give myself extra time to think and weigh all my options before making a final choice.
In my last job, for instance, I was in charge of making the education department’s monthly budget. This meant that each team had to figure out how much money they would get for their project and how much money they could spend on supplies. I talked to the leaders of each team and thought about which projects were the most important based on deadlines and what the community said was the most important programming. I also told the team why I made the budget choices I did and kept track of my expenses so I could make reasonable changes each month and get the most out of every dollar.”
“Because I work with customers, the hardest decisions I have to make at work are usually about how to solve customer problems while still following company rules. I always try to give customers a good experience, but it’s also my job to support the company’s business model and follow its rules. When clients and customers want compensation because something didn’t go as planned, it’s often hard to figure out how to make things better and keep everyone happy.
Recently, I had a customer who insisted on getting a refund, even though they were the ones who caused the problem. I had to decide if I wanted to give the customer a refund so I could help other people or if I wanted to calm the customer down and explain what had happened. Even though the first option might have saved time, I used what I had learned and asked my coworkers to help with other customers while I calmed down the situation. She figured out how to use it in the end, so she kept it.”