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What is the riskiest decision you have ever made in the workplace?

1 of 30 Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on May 4th, 2019 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
How to Answer

The interviewer wants to know how you handle making risky decisions. As a successful professional, you know to calculate risk in your industry. Tell the interviewer about a work-related risk you have taken and what the outcome was.

Start with an overview of the decision you needed to make, and explain why it was risky. Describe who the situation affected, as well as the possible outcomes. Complete your answer by sharing how the decision paid off, or by mentioning any recognition you received for your success.

Professional Answer Examples
Answer example

"The riskiest decision I ever made was to leave the recruitment industry to move into workforce planning, as a consultant. The risk meant that if I were unsuccessful, I would be looking for a new job in a plodding economy. The pay off would be that I would finally be in a sector in which I was truly interested. I made a great career for myself for the next eight years, which has brought me here today - with an exceptional opportunity in front of me."

Answer example

"The riskiest career choice I have made was asking for a reduction in hours, from full time to part time employment, to pursue my degree in Business Administration. My boss could have let me go, but he didn't. In fact, he openly supported my pursuit of higher education."

Answer example

"My riskiest decision was to ship a customer order late because I was not satisfied with the quality audit. The numbers were within the threshold, but not to par. In the end, while the customer was unhappy to receive a late order, she was happy that we cared enough to investigate any potential problems."

Answer example

"One of the riskiest decisions I made was to leave corporate America and join a startup with an innovative idea. The company was seeking to provide a product/service that would pioneer a new industry. We worked harder and smarter to launch and create a new space in the nutraceutical marketplace. We failed a lot along the way, but we learned to fail fast, and it made us all better professionals."

Answer example

"I think the riskiest decision I've made is taking steps to pursue this position. I am seeking out an opportunity, which would result in leaving a 5-year tenure at a successful store, where I've risen through the ranks and made a name for myself, to start fresh and challenge myself professionally."

Answer example

"Easily the riskiest career decision I've made was to leave an established organization where I was being groomed for a general manager role, to try my hand at a technology startup. Most of my family thought I was nuts when I did it, but I felt it my gut it was what I needed to do. I was right. Not only did I get to experience a different, more innovative culture, team, and product, but also I was able to be a real difference maker in the organization, rather than continue to chug away at a 10,000+ person corporate entity. That leap brought me to more opportunities I never thought possible."

Answer example

"When I came back to work after having my kids -- and leaving was seen as potentially risky, might I add -- I had two options on the table. I could have worked as a high school Spanish teacher or an elementary Spanish teacher. I chose Elementary. This example may not sound risky, but a few years prior, the district had floated the idea that elementary Spanish should be cut to save money, so I came into a position that was potentially on the cutting block."

Critical Care Nurse
Answer example

"I would love to mentor students! At my previous employment, clinical students were assigned only to those nurses in supervisory positions. I understand the reason for scheduling students with supervisors but always hoped to have an opportunity to precept students."

Written by:

Heather Douglass
Heather Douglass has over 20 years of experience recruiting and hiring candidates. She has a knack for resume writing. You can find her on twitter at @heatherinidaho.
Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career. Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise. Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
Ryan Brown
Ryan Brown, is the creator of MockQuestions. He has over ten years experience creating interview questions. His website has helped over 10 million job seekers in their interview preparation.
First written on: 12/04/2010
Last modified on: 05/04/2019

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View user-submitted Answers

What is the riskiest decision you have ever made in the workplace?
Build a bigger boat MGM - tents.
Sending my resume to as many companies as I could. This gave me the ability to put myself out there.
To leave my employer of 10 years to open my own business. My business took off from day one... Very successful during its time of operation.
Working as a Substitute teacher and making new ways to teach new methods for kids to learn.
To move from New Mexico after my divorce.
To tell the owner why there are people that are unhappy with his company. Not really sure how it ended up.
I was working in a group for a project and I told my team that some of the topics they were talking about should be ignored and continue improving on what we had left. Because I didn't push had for them to stop it cost me my grades.
Continuing CPR on a patron while waiting for the medical team.
The riskiest decision I have made was to go to a college hours away from my hometown. I knew that moving there would mean being on my own, away from family and everything familiar. I think in the end, it was just the challenge I needed and I think that I am better for it.
Majoring in history.
The riskest decision that I made was having to work in a group other members not contributing to the work after several attempts to get them to do their work thought it was time to tell the leadership team.
Once there was a client who was asking for a discount as per company policy it was 2% but I decrease to 1.5% as it will benefit the co. I close the deal with that the customer was happy, manager was also satisfied.
When I worked in distribution I made the commodity stocks, providers are trying to change the good putting others unwanted. So when I had this situation I gave them the goods back, asking to send commands required. Providers want to make money of cheating, our company don`t accept something what we don`t need, because we have it allready.
The riskiest decision i've ever made was to nearshore the develipment of the womens network instead of going with the much safer, but much more expensive (both financially and timewise) internal solutions offered. The situation was that interally I was told it would take 1 year and 5.1 M to develope the network. I decided to do dev in AR and was able to complete it in less than 1/2 the time and for 750k.
That I promised the customer that he will get the product on time knowing very well that is not on my hands but I had to push the sales and stores people for the product to be there when the client reach the shop. I had to use my own personal line to make sure that the customer is happy.
Riskiest decision ever made was to confront shoplifter while counting her out of FR. She took an item out of her purse. Then persisted on telling me I counted her in wrong.
I decided to move to nova scotia to find a job, I had never been there before... I found a job within 11 days of landing.
The riskiest decision I made was giving five different cardiac prescribed meds at once to a CHF patient with a normal blood pressure. I found out from MD that by giving these cardiac meds together helped stabilize the pt blood pressure and with out then she would have been at risk for multiple complications.
1 study -- financial problem and there is no possinilities to study there is no colleges near by my villlage.
I decided to take a necessary course during the summer knowing that I would just enough funds to pay for the class and off campus housing. I didn't have a means of transportation or a surplus of funds for food. I walked to school and bought low cost options to survive on for weeks. I was able to get through the 4 weeks and passed the class.
Accepted to worh day night for a project continuous 36 hrs.
I decided to live my previous job at esatern cape and come to jhb because of my mother was very sick her and have one one to look after her but I came in jhb and hunt for anather job.
The computers went down, the owner was out of town. I emailed him but no answer. Followed through by getting buying new parts and installing, saving reciepts so if my decision was wrong I could return them. It worked out fine.
To leave my banking job. I decided to take six months off and found that it was hard to find a good paying job.
Describe a time when you were able to effectively communicate a difficult or unpleasant idea to a superior.
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