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When have you had to make a split second decision? How do you react under unexpected pressure?
Being able to make quick decisions and think fast on your feet sets top-notch professionals out from the crowd. We all make a lot of decisions every day, so start off by telling the interviewer that you make a lot of quick decisions each day. Next, be prepared for a more significant example that will be sure to impress.
Answer examples
"My current position requires me to make tough decisions on a regular basis. I work well under pressure like that. With split second decisions, I will always go with my initial instinct. Last week, I had two high-profile clients show up for a meeting at the same time. One client was late, and the other was early. I did not want anyone to feel bad for being late or too early so I had each party placed in a different conference room. My colleague started the meeting with our early meeting while I met with the client who was late. It worked out well because I am no stranger to multi-tasking and I have great support staff."
"In my current fast paced role, this happens often! We handle a lot of customer situations and put them first and foremost. Often times, we have guidelines we follow and there are also times when situations call for creative solutions to meet customer needs. I make split second decisions when resolving these matters in the best interest of the customer and the company."
"At XYZ, the plant manager was out one day and there was a bottleneck on the production line. I pulled the team together, reviewed the schedule and made a quick decision on which orders were unfortunately getting moved to the next shift and shipping later than anticipated. I reacted swiftly and calmly."
Sales answer example
"Probably the best example of my split-second decision making helped me close a huge deal. We were two online demos into a six-figure plus deal and had the following demonstration set up for the next day when all stakeholders would be in attendance. As soon as I hung up the phone, I grabbed my manager and told him that I was going to either drive or fly to their location because I believed an in person meeting would be the difference maker. I believe to this day that either the deal would not have closed, or it would have dragged out a considerable amount of time had I not done just that."
Retail answer example
"My manager literally quit on the spot while I was the assistant manager, therefore inherently the responsibility transferred to me during the middle of the shift, on the floor. It was understandably uncomfortable and with quite a lot of pressure, but I took it in stride. Took a quick second to take a breath, get my head in the game, and took charge of the floor, reassuring everyone of that things would go on as usual, and delegating tasks as needed."
Teacher answer example
"There are constant split-second decisions as a teacher regarding how to handle behavior from students, who to group together, and the like. I wouldn't describe this as anything really out of the usual, but I had a student with some significant behavior issues have a breakdown in class. I quickly had to assess how to best handle the situation to best protect his safety, and that of other students, without alarming anyone. I was able to quickly grab an aide and another classroom teacher to get help for this student, and call the nurse as well. By reacting swiftly, I was able to contain a potentially volatile and traumatic situation and make it mostly just a blip on the screen. My adrenaline was definitely flowing, but it felt good to make a great decision in a really high-stakes situation."

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User-Submitted Answers

When have you had to make a split second decision? How do you react under unexpected pressure?
A time I made a split second decision was when jane doe had quit without notice I volunteered to stay and work her shift until the replacement showed up.
When I saw a child run into the road and I quickly yelled and helped him back to safety.
I was going to have a difficult exams the morning after a class presentation and I told my team member that I might not show up so he had to that part alone but few seconds to the presentation I decided to come to class and do my part and it was our turn to present. My group appreciated it because I answered all the questions.
When I resigned from shipping company. My decision was taken after a long period of thinking.