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Behavioral Interview
Questions

| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 30

What was the most difficult decision you have had to make?

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Behavioral Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    What was the most difficult decision you have had to make?

      The interviewer is still looking for a reply that relates to your career or education. This question is not the time to tell them that leaving your wife was the hardest choice you've ever had to make! Leave that conversation over beers with friends.

      Behavioral-based interview questions like this one, where the interviewer is looking for a story example, are best answered using the STAR method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Organizing your response using this framework will ensure that you provide the interviewer with the right amount of information and detail to form a compelling answer.

      Use an example such as changing majors in university, quitting a job, leaving the family business, relocating to a new city for better opportunities, or even starting a venture. Be sure to highlight how things have worked out for you since making this challenging decision.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "(Situation) The most difficult decision that I have had to make was changing my major from Accounting to International Business. (Task) I was a second-year student and knew that the decision would set me back as far as graduation. (Action) However, after weighing the pros and cons, I knew that this added time was well worth the overall reward, (Result) I am so happy that I chose this path because I have built a very lucrative career."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Admin interview

      "(Situation) The biggest decision I have ever made was to quit my last job and move to Denver. (Task) I have a lot of friends in Denver, which made a choice a bit easier, but leaving my hometown to explore other opportunities was certainly a major decision in my life. (Action) I decided, despite my fears, to move forward and make the location change. I actively looked for a new job opportunity and leveraged my existing network to make valuable new connections. (Result) Today, I have zero regrets, as I love this city. It's my home for good!"

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Manager interview

      "(Situation) In 2016, I earned acceptance into my top two universities, which I did not expect. (Task) I was a strong student and was thrilled to have options; however, I underestimated how difficult the decision would be. (Action) I weighed my pros and cons, including location, reputation, my major, past alumni, and more. I also made an Excel spreadsheet and pie chart to help me make the decision based on data and analysis. (Result) Thankfully, I made the right choice in the end, and flourished at U of ABC!"

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Marketing interview

      "(Situation) Choosing my major was one of the toughest career decisions I have made. (Task) I was on the fence between B2B Marketing and Consumer Behavior. (Action) After some contemplation as well as interviewing alumni and existing students, I chose B2B Marketing as my major. (Result) Today, I am thankful that I made that choice. B2B strategies are changing fast, and I love to learn new ways to position my clients in this incredibly competitive marketplace."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Retail interview

      "(Situation) Last year I chose to stop working for my parents at their print shop. (Task) I wanted a more fashion-oriented job since clothing has always been my passion. (Action) I mustered up the courage to give my notice, and I helped them to find a replacement before leaving. It was a tough conversation because I wanted to tell them about my dreams without offending them at the same time. (Result) This decision has improved our relationship, and I am thrilled that I chose to put myself and career desires first."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Sales interview

      "(Situation) The most difficult decision I have had to make was to let go of the business I started and get back into the regular workforce. (Task) The business did well, but my partner and I had differing ideas about where to take the company. (Action) He offered to buy me out, and I accepted. (Result) I love being in software sales now and never look back on the choice I made. It was one of the most challenging choices of my career but well worth the initial hardship."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Teacher interview

      "(Situation) Initially, I started my education training with a focus on being a high school math teacher. One year in, I decided to switch to an Elementary focus. (Task) I knew there were more job opportunities for male teachers in elementary and my focus was to make myself highly employable. (Action) I made the change, moved around some classes, lost some credit, but also gained wisdom. (Result) I am still very pleased with the decision that I made as I have never had trouble finding work in the elementary realm."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Youth Worker interview

      "While working alone at a drop-in youth center, an adult stranger entered the center who was intoxicated and unaware as to where he was. This person was speaking loudly and behaving aggressively. To keep the youth safe, I asked them to gather into the supervisors' office and take turns singing karaoke on the computer. I let them know that I needed to take care of the issue, and I instructed them to stay in the supervisors' office until I returned. The doors to the office could lock, and the office was primarily windows so I could keep a close eye on the youth while I dealt with this intoxicated individual. As I got the kids organized, I called for help. I decided that I needed to distract the individual and keep him calm until help arrived. I made him a cup of tea and carried on a conversation until help arrived. After the incident, I had a debrief session with the youth, and we talked about safety, how they felt, and if we could have handled the situation any differently. The kids said they felt safe. After consulting with my supervisor, they agreed that under the circumstances, I handled the difficult situation with success."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Radiology interview

      "Yes, I do consider myself a strong decision maker. As a Radiologist, I face incredibly challenging choices every day. I am skilled in this aspect and able to think critically, rather than emotionally, when it comes to patient diagnosis and other difficult topics."

      Darby's Answer
       for a Medical Manager interview

      "When someone comes into my office requesting information regarding a patient, I always review the patient's chart first to verify whether or not the patient has given permission to release information. If the person requesting information is on the signed release of information, I go over what information they have permission to obtain and ask them to sign the appropriate forms to acknowledge receipt. If the requesting person is not on the patient's release of information, I advise them that, according to privacy regulations, I am unable to release information without the patient's expressed written consent."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Assistant Principal interview

      "The school I worked for was making budget cuts and I, along with the principal and board, had to decide which of two teachers to lay off. This choice was tough as they were professionally capable and I had good personal relationships with them. I made a pros and cons list, talked to their students and their students' parents, and discussed options with each of them extensively before making a decision. In the end, I wrote a stellar recommendation for the teacher we let go, and he got into an amazing school. I think it's essential to go the extra mile when making difficult decisions like this."

      Christine's Answer
       for a Line Cook interview

      "Just last month we had to make some difficult decisions regarding how to reorganize the team to make the most of the work stations in the kitchen. To do this, I gained insight to understand the strengths of each team member and any preferences they had over work stations. Within three days, we had reassembled the team to operate in a way to better serve the needs of each meal service. It was a big change for some people who have worked at their station for a long time. People can be resistant to change so gaining their buy in early in the process made this a seamless transition!"

      Christine's Answer
       for a Parole Officer interview

      "One of the most difficult decisions I have made in the past few months was to decide to pursue other work. I am deeply engrained in the processes of criminals in the system where I work and it is a tough decision to uproot that but one I made to continue to challenge myself and achieve my own personal career aspirations."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Welfare Eligibility Worker interview

      "I make sure I have enough information to make the best decision I can with what I have. If I am on the fence, I often request more documents or ask more questions of my clients. I strive to be fair and consistent with each person I meet with."

      Heather's Answer
       for a Alcohol and Drug Counselor interview

      "In my previous position, I was in charge of hiring administrative staff for our Substance Abuse Clinic. We had an employee that was consistently coming in to work late despite many chances, so I had to sit down with him and let him go. It is always challenging to fire those that you have worked with so closely; however, everyone should be responsible when it comes to their work efforts."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Physician Assistant interview

      "I think my confidence in making tough decisions has grown over the years. As a new physician assistant, I was a bit more hesitant to make these decisions and learned a great deal from the more tenured PA's on my team. Now, I make strategic and thoughtful decisions based on my knowledge and experience. I also am very comfortable asking for help in situations that may be new to me. I value the collaborative approach we have as a team."

      Heather's Answer
       for a Allergist interview

      "I think my confidence in making tough decisions has grown over the years. As a new Allergist, I was a bit more hesitant to make these decisions and learned a great deal from the more tenured medical provider on my team. Now, I make strategic and thoughtful decisions based on my knowledge and experience. I also am very comfortable asking for help in situations that may be new to me. I value the collaborative approach we have as a team."

      Anonymous Answer

      "The most difficult decision I had to make was choosing to leave this job as an intern. At that time, I felt very overwhelmed with my sister in the hospital, two jobs, and a year of rotations ahead of me. It was a tough decision because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my career and retail pharmacy is what I was more comfortable with. The last three years have given me time to emotionally heal from a personal loss, achieve my goals in retail pharmacy, and finally decide that I want to work in a hospital setting based on my experiences in rotations."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This is a great answer, I would leave out the details of your sister and simply say it was for family reasons.

      "The most difficult decision I had to make was choosing to leave my internship. At that time, I was working two jobs along with my rotations. I was very overwhelmed, and then experienced a family emergency which was the final strain on my schedule. Over the last three years, I have focused a great deal on my personal growth and have zeroed in on my career goals within retail pharmacy. These experiences are what have led me to my goal of working in a hospital setting."

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      Anonymous Answer

      "The most significant decision I have ever made was to follow my husband's will to move to the US. During the last few weeks, I came across different people in the service industry; I'm so impressed and grateful for their spirit of generosity and serving."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Good answer that has a personal, emotional touch while showing your drive and reason for working.

      "Moving to the USA is the most difficult decision I have had to make. My husband and I relocated here in January and have been actively seeking job opportunities. Through this time, I have come across many wonderful people. I am so impressed with the spirit and generosity here."

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (2) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "The most difficult decision that I have had to make was changing careers and considering a Master's in Project Management and Business Analysis. I had five years of experienced in my career, and I was aware of the pros and cons of quitting a well-paid job to go back to school. I knew that the investment of time was well worth the overall reward. I am so happy that I chose this path because I have built a very lucrative career and am here in the US interviewing for an outstanding company."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Nice! This framework is perfectly executed and shows that you had a tough choice to make but that you made the right one with a happy resolution in the end :)

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "I think the most difficult decision I had to make was leaving my job where I was a Social Media Student Assistant. I had been working there for two years, needed to do internships for school credit, found that I wasn't growing in a way that I wanted to, and I lacked certain tools that I would need access to if I were to successfully take on these kinds of roles in my career path. It was a risk to leave somewhere I had stability and had made so many friends, but in the end, I was able to complete two additional internships that led me to where I am today and experience the exposure to working in a fast-paced tech environment, which is something I love. I'm someone that craves growth, and I want to grow with my position. I'm happy to have taken that risk in my career and for myself."

      Rachelle's Answer

      You know yourself well, and you aren't afraid to take calculated risks to achieve your goals. This is a wonderful quality to have and shows character and mental fortitude. It's awesome that your decision to leave this job worked out for you in the end. This response is positive and full of action statements - well done.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "The most difficult decision I had to make was moving several states away for a job after just learning that a family member had a terminal illness. Although I had the love and support of my family, it never felt right to be so far away, no matter how satisfying my career was. I've since returned to my home state to be near my family, and the experience has taught me what's most important in my life."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Your answer is personal and heartfelt, which allows the interviewer to learn a bit about you, aside from what is on your resume. You still tie in a mention of your career, so this is a good approach.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "The most difficult decision I had to make was to turn down a job with the company that my father works at. I tested and interviewed extremely well. I was offered the job and knew that it would make my father extremely proud to work with him. It was a good job opportunity with great pay and benefits, but I didn't want to put my education on hold as I knew I wouldn't be able to do both. I chose to continue my education which put me on the path to a better career that has made me happier."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Terrific response! You take the interviewer through your unique journey in an engaging way. Glad to hear it all worked out for you in the end :)

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      Anonymous Answer

      "I worked for a national news agency for four years overseas and based on my efforts and experience, they decided to post me to New York City to be a field reporter. I worked there for nearly two years and loved every minute of it, but when the posting ended and I returned to my post overseas, I needed to make a choice. The management had given a huge boost to my career by sending me to the United States, but coming back, I quickly found that my progress was faltering. I was deeply invested in the agency, but when an exciting opportunity in the form of a new challenge presented itself, I took it. I pursued a different career path, and it paid off in the long run."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It sounds like this was a high-stakes decision for you. Career shifts are rarely easy decisions to make. Since this answer is behavioral-based, the interviewer will want to know your thought process and critical thinking skills as much as possible. For this reason, I recommend being more detailed when it comes to how you felt your progress was faltering, the new challenge presented to you, and what the benefits were/are of your decision.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "The most difficult decision I had to make was leaving the last company I worked at. I had a lot of customers that were dependent on me and they had become like family to me. I still keep in contact with a lot of the customers that I once helped with that company and I trained my replacement to help them the way I did. He always knew he could call me if he ran into an issue that he needed assistance with."

      Kristine's Answer

      Good answer! The interviewer will learn a lot about your commitment to customers through your response. However, your response may cause the interviewer to wonder, "Why did this person leave the company if it was so difficult?" "Was it a good decision?" and "What happened after this person made the decision?" You can address these potential questions in your answer, or be prepared to answer them as a follow up to your response. I assisted with wording in a few places for clarity.

      "The most difficult decision I had to make was leaving the last company I worked at. I had a lot of customers that were dependent on me, and they had become like family to me. I still keep in contact with a lot of the customers that I once helped with that company, and I trained my replacement to help them the way I did. I made sure he knew he could call me any time if he ran into an issue and needed assistance."

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      Anonymous Answer

      "The hardest decision I've had to made was deciding whether or not to do a double degree and study analytics along with finance or finance alone. By taking up analytics, I would get real-world experience working with data, something very important for finance professionals in the real world. However, by doing a double degree, I would be spending an extra year at university, and it would be a lot more costly. I weighed up the pros and cons of each and really asked myself what I wanted to get out of university. I realised I was going there to make myself more employable, and the extra cost was worth it as undertaking analytics would give me real-world experience that I wouldn't get with just finance. Overall, I think deciding to do analytics has been a great decision as to its really given me a leg up on my peers."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Making critical educational decisions is a challenge, indeed. Your decision-making approach seems to be highly analytical, and it's great that you made the decision that gave you the most competitive advantage!

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      Anonymous Answer

      "The most difficult decision that I have had to make was to let a coworker go. He was a good friend who supported me in the field but was continuously coming in late and was a bad example to others by being on his cell phone. I counseled him a few times on his actions. He would change for about a week, and then he was back to getting on his cell phone or coming in late occasionally. He had been written up so many times, so when management came to me to see what I thought, I did the responsible thing and said we had to release him. He was affecting productivity in the shop — what a hard thing to do, to release a friend."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Your answer shows integrity and professionalism, but also a tender and genuine side of you. Very well said. I was a bit confused if you had the authority to terminate in this role, or if this was a recommendation to the management team who had the authority to terminate. You may want to be clearer on that. Otherwise; good response!

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