Hiring managers are trying to grasp a better feel for who you really are in an interview. They only have a few minutes to determine if you will be a good fit for the team and the role. They may ask a question like “what was the toughest decision you ever had to make” to gain a better understanding of what kinds of things you find tough, how quickly you can make a decision and your rationale behind the decision.
Points to Emphasize
In your response, try to limit how much you discuss personal and especially private details. This may make a hiring manager uncomfortable. Instead, try to focus your response on work or school-related decision you have made. Keep the overall tone in your response positive.
- Keep your response concise and mention the tough decision in brief detail.
- Focus the majority of your response on how you made the difficult decision.
- Mention any important skills you have that helped in making the decision.
- Provide information on how the decision was ultimately the right one and why.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
It’s easy to let this question get too personal or too lengthy. Keep it brief, but be optimistic. It’s important to only mention one specific decision that had a positive result. Also avoid:
- Speaking negatively about anyone else. Provide details, but don’t be degrading.
- Elaborating the details. Don’t lie to the hiring manager.
- Being boastful or prideful. It’s important to be confident, but don’t come across as cocky or conceited.
- An incomplete response. Don’t leave the hiring manager hanging. Provide a conclusion to your decision that showcases how it became a positive result.
You might consider answering the question like this:
A few years ago I was asked to lead a team of employees on a new project that dealt with extremely private information on customers and employees. One of the members of my team was a good friend of mine in my personal life, and we worked well together professionally also. It was brought to my attention several months into the project that he had accessed personal information on his family members through our secure database.
While this fellow employee was a good friend of mine, I had to make the very difficult decision to cut him from the team and tell senior management what he had done. It wasn’t easy for me, but he had violated my trust and the trust of our company. His poor decisions ultimately lead to his being let go. I was saddened this was the result, but knew it was for the best. My actions resulted in increased trust and greater opportunity from senior management and ultimately helped me to realize the importance of following company guidelines on privacy and security.