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Interview questions about strategic thinking

Use these interview questions about strategic thinking to find candidates who can think up effective strategies tailored to your company.

Why you should ask questions about strategic thinking

Strategic thinking is important in the workplace in order to be able to make business decisions by addressing current and future scenarios in an analytical way. People who think strategically will translate the company’s vision into practicable tasks.

Companies employ strategically minded staff to achieve their long-term goals. Strategic thinkers are:

  • Alert. They spot and address potential risks.
  • Forward-looking. They set long-term objectives.
  • Economical. They use resources effectively.
  • Solution-oriented. They formulate plans of action when faced with obstacles.
  • Resilient. They handle competitive situations skillfully.

Here are a few sample interview questions that you can ask your interview candidates about their strategic thinking. Combine these questions with those on problem-solving and analytical skills to produce well-rounded candidate profiles and be able to make better placement decisions.

Interview questions about strategic thinking

  • How much time a week/month do you invest in strategic planning? What’s your approach?
  • Give me an example of when you spotted a problem at your company on your own initiative and then tackled it.
  • How do you communicate strategic decisions to your team and other departments at your company?
  • Tell me about an objective that you failed to achieve. What happened?
  • How do you set objectives for your team? How often do you review and discuss these objectives?
  • What main factors do you consider when preparing a plan of action?
  • How do you measure the effectiveness of a strategy?

Tips for assessing candidates’ strategic thinking

  • Before you agree on a business plan, employees need to understand how the company or the team works. During the interview, assess candidates’ analytical skills in terms of how they gather and process information.
  • Ask candidates to tell you how they put together a strategy for their team/company. Look for candidates with a methodical approach who consider all the alternatives and potential risks.
  • Tell your candidates about a strategy/campaign from the past that did not work out and ask them to evaluate it. This will show you whether candidates can spot mistakes and propose alternative solutions.
  • Give candidates hypothetical solutions that relate to processes at your company. This will show you whether candidates are identifying your needs and formulating strategies customized to suit these needs.

Warning signs

  • Applicants are reluctant to make decisions. If they are to select the best tactics, employees need to be able to compare and evaluate several alternatives. Candidates who lack self-assurance and seem nervous about making a decision might be less well suited to this task.
  • Applicants have no leadership skills. Strategic thinking also means setting tough goals and giving your team the motivation to achieve them. You should therefore look for candidates who are leadership material and are comfortable allocating tasks.
  • Applicants fail to consider the consequences. Candidates who answer very superficially and say the first thing that comes into their heads may well struggle to think strategically when problems arise.
  • Applicants are averse to change. Strategies have to be flexible. If candidates are unable to adapt, this could quickly result in a strategically inefficient approach.

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