Tell Me About a Hard Choice Youve Made in the Recent Past


To get to the heart of whether a certain individual would make an ideal employee or not- it is necessary to get to the nitty-gritty questions that are tough for anyone to answer. These queries are usually known as behavioral interview questions and concern deep issues of character- motivation and personality that shed light on how a person is likely to act on the job. One common behavioral question is ‘Tell me about a hard choice youve made in the recent past.’ A topic as open-ended and potentially difficult to talk about such as this can be a challenge to think up a good answer for on the spot- so it is important to make sure you prepare your answers to questions such as this beforehand.

When an interviewer asks you this question- what he or she is really trying to say is ‘How do you handle difficult decisions?’ The interviewer may phrase this in any number of ways- such as ‘What is one challenging decision that you have faced?’ or ‘Have you been forced to make any tough calls- and if so- what?’ No matter how tricky these questions might seem- they are an invaluable aspect of the interview and can be easily handled if you do some prior preparation. The STAR method discussed below is one recommended way to approach questions such as these.

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How to Answer the ‘Tell Me About a Hard Choice Youve Made in the Recent Past’ Behavioral Interview Question

Get Into the Details. Don’t speak in terms of generalities when answering any behavioral interview questions. With this one in particular- it is very important that you discuss in detail the decision that you had to make- why it was difficult for you- how you ended up making it and what kind of impact that had on the situation. Because your interviewer is trying to get to know you on a deeper level by having you illustrate your decision making process- it is critical that you illustrate interesting or important points about yourself as you tell the story. Don’t be afraid to get detailed about what went into your decision making and why the situation was important to you.

Explain What It Meant to You. Your interviewer will no doubt learn a lot about you just by knowing what kind of decision was a tough call for you personally. It may have been your choice as a manager to have to lay someone off whom you didn’t particularly want to let go of- or your hard choice may have been choosing to take some days off work to spend time with a family member who was ill. Regardless of what choice you decide to talk about- make sure that it illustrates some important aspect of your personality. Explain to your interviewer what the decision meant to you- why it was hard and what you would do differently- if anything- in the future.

Remember the STAR Method. STAR- or situation/task- action and result- is a very useful acronym that can successfully structure your answer to this behavioral interview question. Frame your response in three sections starting with talking about the scenario which led to having to make the tough choice. Next- discuss the choice that you ended up making- what factors went into your decision and why. Finally- make sure to review the results of the decision you made- whether they are positive or negative. You may want to talk about what you would do if you were faced with a similar choice in the future. Remember that your interviewer is trying to derive from your answers how you would react if asked to make a tough choice on the job- and answer accordingly.

Sample ‘Tell Me About a Hard Choice Youve Made in the Recent Past’ STAR Interview Answer

I have been faced with many difficult decisions throughout my personal and professional life- but one that stands out in particular is a recent situation in which I was required by a client to give the notice of leave to a fellow employee who had been very loyal to them. I knew that this particular employee was struggling financially- had a family to support and had no awareness that they were about to lose their job- and my personal friendship with this individual made the issue of telling them even harder. In order to break the news to them in the best way I knew how- I decided to wait until what seemed like the most appropriate time to tell them. I also made the decision to stand in solidarity with my co-worker- even when that meant that I lost out on a job from the particular client who had chosen to lay this person off.

Of course- there is no one right strategy when it comes to answering complex behavioral interview questions. The STAR method- however- is one of the best ways to remember to stay focused- remain results-oriented and answer all the aspects of the question.