Interview Coaching

Competency 3. Decision Making

Lesson 5

Decision-making is important in every role but ​the quality of the decisions you make will inform the panel about your ability.

You don't need to answer all of these questions, but if decision making is a component in the job you are ​applying for, you will want to prepare answers to these interview questions to showcase your experience and effectiveness in decision making. 

Decision-Making Interview Questions

Think about a time when you had a number of different choices or directions you could choose for a project, to solve a problem, or to hold an event. Walk us through the process you followed to make your decision about the appropriate direction to choose that had the best chance of a positive outcome.

Describe the process you typically follow to make a decision. (This is a classic opportunity to reveal you thinking in certain circumstances and how you weigh up you options and align priorities).

Think about an occasion when you needed to choose between two or three equally viable paths to accomplish a goal. How did you make your decision about the path to follow?

Think about a time when you had several options from which to choose, but none of them were sufficient to meet your goal. How did you decide which option to follow?

Faced with a choice between qualified candidates for a promotion, a lateral move, a project leader, or a new hire, describe how you made your choice.

Describe the process you followed to pick the college you attended.

How will you decide whether to accept a job offer should an employer offer you a job that you think is a good match for your skills and preferred workplace?

When you are working with a coworker or reporting staff member, how do you decide upon and communicate the points at which you need feedback and progress reports?

Do you have a process or a methodology that you use when you are making decisions?

Decision-Making Job Interview Question Answers

Use these tips about how to assess your candidate’s answers to interview questions that assess decision-making skill to select the best, most qualified employees for your organisation. This is how to assess your candidate’s answers to interview questions about decision making.

You want to hire an employee who demonstrates that he or she can logically make decisions. During the interview, listen for evidence of a systematic approach to weighing options. Look for evidence of effective decision making in the past. Ask the candidate how each of his or her decisions described in the answers to the above questions, worked out in the end.

Ask your candidate also about what he or she would do differently if faced with the above decisions again. You are looking for evidence that your candidate is willing to continue to learn and grow. Whether you agree with the decision the candidate made is less important than noting the decision-making process followed. If the decisions really seem illogical, like unsupported leaps of faith, or to come from out of left field, though, be wary.

My one caveat with these guidelines is that you want to hire people who are creative, innovative, and willing to step outside of the box. At least, I do. So, take care when you assess a creative, innovative approach to decision making.

You need right brain employees just as you need left brain dominant employees. Their roles might be different within your organisation, but you do need both. And, a candidate who is able to demonstrate creativity, while seeming to make logical decisions, is potentially a great hire.

Assuming the role for which you are hiring an employee involves decision making, listen for past actions that demonstrate that the applicant can make logical, realistic decisions. Past successes speak more loudly in the interview setting than the applicant's projections about what he or she "thinks" that he or she would do when making a decision in the future.

You want an employee who has demonstrated the skills needed in the past or an employee who is interested and capable of learning how to make well-thought out decisions.

The Decision-Making Process

1. Defining the problem, challenge, or opportunity
2. Generating an array of possible solutions or responses
3. Evaluating the costs and benefits, or pros and cons, associated with each option
4. Selecting a solution or response
5. Implementing the option chosen
6. Assessing the impact of the decision and modifying the course of action as needed

You will not always find yourself going through all six steps in an obvious way.

You might be responsible for one aspect of the process but not the others, or several steps might be merged together. But someone should still go through each step in some way or other. Skipping steps usually leads to poor outcomes. 

Remember to develop strategies to ensure that you have not overlooked important information or misunderstood the situation, and be sure to uncover and correct for any biases you may have.

Examples of Decision Making in the Workplace

Even if you do not yet have management experience, you probably have made decisions in a professional setting. But because decision-making is not always a cut-and-dried process, you might not recognize what you were doing.

Review the following list of examples to help get a sense of what activities from your own work history you can share with potential employers to demonstrate your own decision-making skills. Be sure to keep your sharing as relevant to the job requirements for the position as possible.

• Identifying a faulty machine as the source of disruptions in the production process.
• Facilitating a brainstorming session to generate possible names for a new product.
• Polling staff to gauge the impact of extending retail hours.
• Evaluating the impact of several possible cost-cutting measures.
• Brainstorming possible themes for a fundraising campaign.

If you, or the teams you are a part of, consistently achieving good results, then you are making decisions well.

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