Job Interview Question and Answer: “Tell Me About a Time When You Had to Make a Quick Decision at Work.”
What Are Interviewers Looking For?
Unpredictable situations can happen in any line of work. Employers want to hire those who can think critically and react quickly when these unexpected moments occur. Your answer to the question “Have you ever had to make a quick decision while at work?” can demonstrate your ability to think on your feet, address sudden workplace problems, and bring situations to a positive outcome.
How to Answer “Describe a Situation Where You Had to Make a Quick Decision.”
Hopefuls should use the STAR method to give a thorough and organized response to this question.
- S= Situation: Set the scene for your story by describing where you worked or the scenario taking place.
- T= Task: Describe the problem that required you to make a quick decision.
- A= Action: Tell the interviewer about the decision that you made and discuss how you handled the situation.
- R= Results: Finish your story by talking about the positive results of the choice that you made.
Some answers to avoid when hiring managers say “Tell me about a quick decision you made at a previous job,” include:
- “I’ve never had to make a fast decision at work:” Interviewers may think you lack the necessary skills for the job if you dodge the question like this.
- “I make quick decisions all the time:” Giving a vague response without the necessary details shows a lack of concern or forethought about the question.
- “I made a random choice and, luckily, it turned out okay:” Employers may doubt your abilities if you mention situations where you got lucky rather than relying on your critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Sample Responses to “What Fast Decisions Have You Made at Work?
Interview questions about coming to a fast decision can sometimes catch job seekers off-guard. Look over the following examples to help you create an answer that speaks to your experiences and abilities.
Sample Job 1- Pharmacy Cashier
“I made a snap decision at my last cashier job when someone tried to rob the store. During a transaction, a customer put his hand in his pocket, said he had a weapon, and told me to give him all the money in the register. We learn in training that we should just hand the money over in these situations, but as I was doing that, a lady was approaching the counter with her young child.”
“I didn’t want to risk the other customers getting hurt, so I decided to alert the mother to what was happening by putting my hands in the air and loudly saying, “Take the money, but don’t hurt anyone!” The lady realized what was happening, grabbed her child, and got out of harm’s way. When the situation was over, my manager was happy that I had followed procedure and had also made a choice that helped keep other shoppers safe.”
Sample Job 2- Restaurant Manager
“Once, we had a server walkout during a particularly busy dinner rush. I was running the front counter with the hostess and a trainee, and the other assistant manager was running the kitchen, so I had to decide what to do. I knew that the hostess would get overwhelmed with carryout orders if I left the counter, so I sent the trainee to fill in for the absent server instead of doing it myself.”
“Though she had only been with the restaurant for a short time, I had seen the trainee work during shadow shifts and had faith that she would do well. She was able to pick up where the walk-out server had left off and keep the guests happy. I was glad that the choice I made resulted in customer satisfaction and gave the trainee a chance to prove herself.”
Sample Job 3- Clothing Store Sales Associate
“At the previous store where I worked, I had to make a decision when interacting with an angry customer. He wanted to return an item but didn’t have a receipt or the clothing tags on the garment. I told him that I couldn’t accept returns without a receipt, and he started yelling at me demanding that I give him a refund.”
“I didn’t want this customer to get angrier, so I had to think quickly about what to do. I decided to first de-escalate things by asking the customer about when they had bought the item and how much it had cost. He relaxed a bit and answered my questions, and eventually calmed down when I said I would go get my manager so they could discuss the situation.”
“I think diffusing the situation first was the right choice. I was able to prevent the customer from making a scene that would have upset other shoppers. My manager was also happy that I asked for their help rather than just giving money to an angry customer to pacify him.”
Things to Keep in Mind
When it comes to answering questions about making fast decisions at work, it is crucial to highlight your thought process. Present the situation and describe how you quickly weighed the pros and cons of each option before making a choice. Spotlighting your use of critical thinking techniques is a great way to impress hiring managers and give a successful interview.