Interview Question: Discuss a Time You Made a Quick Workplace Decision

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: December 05, 2022

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The reason why behavioral interview questions are becoming more common than other types is that hiring managers want to learn about real-world examples of job applicants demonstrating a desired skill. When it comes to a behavioral question such as ‘Give an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision,’ the interviewer wants to know that you possess the ability to weigh options quickly and reach decisions in a timely manner. Although planning something out is always preferable, sometimes you are not given that luxury, and the interviewer wants to know if you will be equipped to deal with those instances.

Some other ways this question might be phrased include, ‘Describe a time when you had to make a snap decision’ or ‘Are you capable of making decisions quickly even if you do not have all the information you would ordinarily like?’ These behavioral questions can be tricky to answer if you have not prepared thoroughly. You would not want to spend a lot of time during the interview trying to come up with a response. Therefore it is in your best interest to prepare thoroughly before the interview and learn about the useful STAR method.

How to Answer the Question: Give an Example of a Time in Which You had to Make a Quick Decision

1. Mention That You Would Prefer Having More Time to Reach a Decision:

At the beginning of your response, it can be good to mention that you would obviously prefer weighing all your options and getting as much information as you can before making a judgment. This shows that you are ordinarily someone who makes decisions wisely. However, it is important to be cognizant of the fact that you will not always have time to gather information. Sometimes you need to make a decision and stick with whatever the outcome may be. By mentioning that aspect at the beginning of your response, you are showing the hiring manager you are well equipped to handle either scenario.

2. Describe a Situation With a Positive Ending:

Making a snap judgment is not always the most desirable thing in the world. You will not have all the resources you need to make the best-informed decision. However, when you are choosing a story to answer this question, you want to pick a time when your quick thinking led to a positive outcome. You would not want to describe a scenario when you had to make a rapid decision, it did not work out and the story end with something along the lines of “If only Id had more time, then it would have worked out.” Remain positive in any story you tell.

3. Talk About What Information You Had:

You may not have had everything you needed to make a knowledgeable decision, but you should mention what you did know. You should be familiar with the short and long-term goals of the company. You should know what certain people’s strengths are. Bringing up this information shows that you actually learn about a company you work with and put in the necessary effort.

4. Answer Using the STAR Method:

All behavioral interview questions can be answered with the STAR method. This job interview technique was developed to assist interviewees in preparing good responses to more difficult interview questions. In case you are wondering, STAR stands for these elements:

  • Situation and Task
  • Action
  • Result

Your story should begin with an overview of the situation and the task you were trying to carry out. Next, explain the series of actions that were taken. Finally, end with what you achieved. As mentioned previously, this should be something positive. These steps should cover everything a hiring manager would want to see when asking, Give an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.

Tell Me About A Time You Had To Make A Quick Decision Answer Example

Ordinarily I would prefer having enough time to weigh multiple options and think through a problem before deciding on a course of action. However, I also understand that may not always be possible. At a past job while working as a manager for a cafe, a fuse was blown and all the electrical systems went down. The issue had to be resolved quickly or else we would have had to shut down for the day. During that time, we really could not risk going without that revenue. Therefore I called a friend who lived nearby and worked as an electrician to come by and see if he could resolve the issue. He fixed it, and we continued operations that day. We paid my friend what we would have paid a regular electrician.

You should spend some time before going in for an interview to prepare answers to behavioral interview questions. This will make you ready for anything that could come your way. Remember to write an interview follow-up email to thank the interviewer for their time and consideration.

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