Are you able to make difficult decisions and tough choices?

  | James Innes


Are you able to make difficult decisions and tough choices?

Alternative and related questions:

Have you ever had to make a really difficult decision at work?
What kind of decisions do you find difficult?
Have you ever had to make a tough and unpopular choice at work?

The meaning behind the question:

You might think that there’s no hidden meaning to this question – that it’s a very direct question as to your decision-making abilities. However, it all hinges on precisely how you define a difficult decision – and your answer will almost inevitably reveal this. The interviewer wants to assess what your conception of a difficult decision is – and how you feel about making such decisions.

Your answer:

The secret is to establish your definition of a difficult decision. Some decisions are inevitably more difficult to make than others – but you don’t want to lead the interviewer into believing you would have problems making a difficult decision if it was necessary. Rather than betraying indecisiveness (which will always be a negative point) you need to demonstrate you accept that it is a necessary evil to have to make certain difficult decisions.

This question is most likely to be asked of those in reasonably senior positions – as the saying goes, it’s tough at the top. It’s therefore a good idea to focus on decisions which have a direct impact on the lives of your staff – undoubtedly the most difficult decisions any manager has to make. Most managers will, at one stage or another, have had to fire someone or make someone redundant – or at the very least take the decision to discipline a member of staff.


For me, the most difficult decisions are those with the highest human cost, for example the decision to make redundancies. However, I don’t shy away from my responsibilities and I recognise that certain business circumstances can force such decisions – and that it would be potentially fatal not to firmly and efficiently make such decisions. In the last recession I had to make a number of redundancies as a result of the adverse economic climate. I certainly wouldn’t claim it was easy – but it was necessary to protect the business and the livelihoods of everyone else working for the organisation

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