When hiring managers ask this question, they may be prompting you to talk about a number of personal and professional traits. Your answer can reveal your approach to solving problems, your priorities, or your ability to resolve conflicts. It allows you to showcase many important aspects of who you are and what you have to offer.
All jobs involve potential adversities. The interviewer wants information about your approach to facing them and finding productive solutions.
Points to Emphasize
Choose a decision that is in some way relevant to the job and the ways in which you feel you’re an ideal fit.
- Be genuine. This will make it easier for you to discuss the situation candidly and with convincing detail.
- Describe what made the choice difficult. It may have involved competing priorities, conflicts among co-workers, or potential risks for you or others.
- Emphasize how your skills and ability to weigh multiple factors impacted your problem-solving strategy.
- Explain how your resolution created beneficial outcomes for you and anyone else involved.
You might discuss a work or non-work decision, but it should demonstrate your ability to make the kinds of tough choices you might face in the job at hand.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
This is a common interview question, and while you want to acknowledge the perplexing nature of the situation, be careful not to come across negatively.
- Answer in a manner that doesn’t paint you as a victim in the situation you describe.
- Discuss the decision you faced without disparaging others.
- While your answer could address a personal dilemma, don’t get too personal.
- Avoid topics that could make the interviewer uncomfortable or hint at undesirable traits.
This question should help you to portray yourself as having sound judgment, good character, and solid priorities.
Here’s what a great answer to this question might sound like:
Last year I was offered the opportunity to move up within my company. The promotion would have included a pay raise and a more prestigious title in another department. However, I was at a critical juncture with several projects and was concerned that moving at that time might jeopardize their progress and create negative consequences for employees I supervised. I thanked my superiors for the opportunity and discussed my concerns, and we came to an agreement that it was best for the company that I remain in my current role for the time being, with the possibility of accepting the promotion at a later date.
The interviewer’s role is to elicit responses that show how you will perform if offered the job. This question is an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to handle complex challenges.