Tough Interview Question - Tell me about the hardest decision you have ever had to make

Tell me about the hardest decision you have ever had to make.

Similar interview questions:
What do you do when you need to make a difficult decision?
Give me an example of your decision making process.
What is your thought process in working through a tough decision?
When is it most difficult for you to make decisions?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
The interviewer wants to find out both what you consider to be your hardest decision and how/why you made the decision. Although the question is only asking about the decision itself, the interviewer will typically drill down into the details around what led up to the need to make the decision, the process you went through for the decision and the eventual outcome and/or fallout as a result of the decision.

The best approach to answering this question:
While you may be tempted to talk about a personal decision in your life, this is not the right venue for doing so. Stick with a professional decision in your work or, for college students with little or no work experience, you can talk about a decision related to your academic work. You should be prepared to talk about what led up to the decision, how you made the decision and what outcome was achieved.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"Probably the hardest decision I’ve had to make was when I moved from my prior team to my current team at work. I had spent two years working with my prior team and we had accomplished a great deal during that time. The manager of the other department approached me to ask if I would be interested in the new role and, at first, I declined. However, she talked to me further about how it would be an opportunity to provide even higher level deliverables due to the positioning of the new team and it would give me an opportunity for accelerated professional growth…"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"My hardest decision was changing majors to my current major in my Sophomore year. I had taken my original major due to influence from others, but during my Freshman year, I took a series of career tests and came to the realization that my competencies, personality and interests were much better aligned to the ______ field. Changing majors meant I would have to take a heavier class load, which could have an impact on my grades. But I have been able to maintain my high grade point throughout and was even recently given an award for the top student in my major…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"I’ve had a lot of bad influences in my life and probably the hardest decision I made was leaving my gang and getting off the streets. The other gang members were not happy, since I was one of the biggest money makers on the street for them. They beat me up pretty bad and I can’t go back to the hood anymore…"

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

Further review: know the answers to these Common Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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