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Interview questions about decision-making skills

Here are a few examples of questions that you can ask during an interview to test decision-making skills. You can use these questions, and candidates’ answers, to determine their analytical and decision-related abilities.

Why you should ask candidates questions about their decision-making skills

Employees are called on to make decisions about their work. This applies both to their usual tasks and to unexpected situations in equal measure – day in, day out. For instance, designers may have to choose between two potential logos, developers might need to decide which feature to implement first, and recruiters are likely to have to pick between two or more highly qualified candidates.

Decisions – either good or bad – have an impact on the whole company. Good decision-makers are:

  • Prudent. They assess situations, consider alternatives, and weigh up advantages and disadvantages.
  • Objective. They apply critical thinking to achieve objective results.
  • Unflappable. Even being under pressure doesn’t affect their ability to make decisions.
  • Hands-on. They demonstrate an attitude that is focused on finding solutions and that doesn’t say “That’s not my job.”
  • Motivated. They help teams to overcome obstacles.

Interview questions about decision-making skills will help you to identify potential new members of staff that have sound judgment. Test your candidates’ ability to analyze data and gauge the consequences of each option before you make a decision. Also bear in mind that a creative, out-of-the-ordinary solution sometimes turns out to be innovative and may be more effective than a traditional approach.

Combine these interview questions with those on critical thinking and analytical skills to produce well-rounded candidate profiles and be able to make better recruitment decisions.

Sample interview questions about analytical skills

  • Two employees regularly clash with each other, disrupting the balance of the team. How would you tackle this situation?
  • Describe a time when you made an unpopular decision. How did you deal with feedback? How else could you have handled the situation?
  • Do you make better decisions on your own or in a group? Why is that? When do you ask for help?
  • You are working on a group project. In this situation, do you make most of the decisions, or do you prefer to let someone else take the lead and follow their instructions?
  • Describe a time when you had to make an immediate decision regarding a critical problem.
  • While you are working on a team project, you notice that one of your colleagues is falling behind. How would you help your team meet their deadline?
  • How would you handle a demanding external stakeholder who keeps changing the requirements for the project that you are working on?
  • You would like your manager to invest in a new piece of software that would help you in your work. You are trying to decide between two options. The first is more expensive but has better reviews, while the second comes with fewer features but is within budget. Which would you recommend, and how would you go about it?

How to assess candidates’ decision-making skills

  • Challenge applicants with hypothetical scenarios in which they are expected to make an important decision. Use realistic examples to test their decision-making skills in situations that they could also encounter in their job.
  • If the candidate asks follow-up questions, this indicates that they would like to have as much information as possible before reaching a conclusion.
  • Skilled employees who make a decision after a thorough analysis of the advantages and disadvantages should be able to present and explain their choice. Look for self-confident applicants who stick by their decisions.
  • We don’t have unlimited time to solve most of the problems we encounter at work. The best decision-makers strike a balance between a good decision and a quick one.
  • Ask applicants about examples and situations where they made effective decisions at work in order to find out how they tackled problems in their last job. Team players are more likely to take input and advice from other colleagues on board.

Warning signs

  • Applicants give “yes/no” answers. Applicants should be able to explain how they arrived at a decision. A candidate who relies merely on their gut instinct or picks an option without justifying their decision sends out a warning sign regarding their sense of judgment.
  • Applicants fail to consider the consequences. Decisions often entail risks, to a greater or lesser degree. Applicants who give superficial answers to hypothetical problems may not be ready to handle the consequences of their decisions.
  • Applicants feel uncomfortable or seem stressed. Senior-level employees may have to make difficult decisions such as allocating tasks, setting deadlines, or letting staff go. Pick applicants who demonstrate that they are reliable and are comfortable taking responsibility for their decisions.
  • Applicants ignore the facts. The decision-making process includes considering all the relevant facts and information. If applicants answer your questions without regard for the facts, they are likely to make the wrong decisions.
  • Applicants tell tales of poor decision-making. If applicants struggle to understand why they have gone wrong and keep on making the same mistakes, they will not learn from these mistakes and may not notice the consequences of a bad decision.

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