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When have you had to make a split second decision? How do you react under unexpected pressure?

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

Written on June 29th, 2018 | 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 pressure when an unexpected stressor arises. 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 choices 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.

Professional Answer Examples
General
Answer example

"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."

Admin
Answer example

"In my current administrative role, this happens often! We handle a lot of customer situations and put them first and foremost. Often, 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, always keeping the best interest of the company in mind."

Manager
Answer example

"In my previous role at Company ABC, the senior plant manager was out one day, and there was a bottleneck on the production line. As the assistant plant manager, it was up to me to pull the team together. I reviewed the schedule and made a quick decision to double up on our hours for the following day. We were able to catch up, and no customers were affected."

Marketing
Answer example

"I had a client approve website copy that did not agree with me. Something sounded off, but I couldn't fully put my finger on it. The day we were supposed to launch, I pulled the plug and sent recommended changes to the client. It was a risk, but it worked out better in the end. The client gained further trust in my work, and I learned that it's always best to follow your intuition."

Retail
Answer example

"Last month, my manager quit on the spot while I was the assistant manager, therefore all responsibility transferred to me during the middle of the shift, on the floor. It was understandably uncomfortable, but I took it in stride. I 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."

Sales
Answer example

"The best example of my split-second decision making is when it also helped me close a huge deal. We were two online demos into a six-figure deal and had the third demonstration set up for the next day, where 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 the deal would not have closed, or it would have dragged out a considerable amount of time had I not arrived to do the demo in person. Going above expectations will never fail you, in sales."

Teacher
Answer example

"There are constant split-second decisions as a teacher, often surrounding how to handle behavior from students, who to group, and the like. I wouldn't describe this as anything out of the ordinary, but I had a student with some significant behavior issues have a breakdown in class. I quickly had to assess how to handle the situation best to protect best his safety, and that of other students, without alarming anyone. I was able to quickly grab an aide and another classroom and get help for this student. We called the nurse as well. By reacting swiftly, I was able to contain a potentially volatile and traumatic situation. My adrenaline was flowing, but it felt good to make a great decision in a high-stakes situation."

Kitchen Manager
Answer example

"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 to make a last minute substitute on one of our most popular entrees because we were shorted a major ingredient by our supplier. I made the changes, informed all kitchen staff and servers, and the crisis was averted!"

Dispatcher
Answer example

"My current position requires me to make tough decisions on a regular basis. I work well under pressure like that. Last week, I had two drivers who were given the incorrect cargo. I was able to dispatch them back to the warehouse, had our hand bombers ready to swap the loads, while ensuring that our clients were kept in the loop the entire time. It worked out well because I am no stranger to multi-tasking and I have great support staff."

Payroll Specialist
Answer example

"Few months back, my manager decided to put me on some more important tasks and thus delegated the task for making the timesheet entries to the payroll system to one of the new joiners. By the end of the month we received an intimation from the accounts department that they had not received the calculations from our side till that date. This was already delayed by four days. Then we realized the new joiner was not even present and had apparently left the job without any notice. Without any further delay I jumped in and worked over time, throughout the night, to ensure that the information was passed on in time. This helped in timely calculations of the salaries for the employees and thus no delay was caused. I completely understand that our job is extremely important as many employees rely upon us for timely disbursement of their salaries."

Heavy Equipment Operator
Answer example

"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."

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.
Published: 06/29/2018
*Specific career answer examples vary on published date

More Interview Questions

View user-submitted Answers

When have you had to make a split second decision? How do you react under unexpected pressure?
1.
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.
2.
When I resigned from shipping company. My decision was taken after a long period of thinking.
3.
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.
4.
When I saw a child run into the road and I quickly yelled and helped him back to safety.
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