Interview Questions to Assess a Candidate's Decision Making Skills

You Can Obtain Sound Information by Asking the Right Questions

Smiling HR managers with a female applicant at a job interview where they will ask questions to assess her decision making skills.
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Want to assess your candidate's skill in decision-making? You can ask these interview questions about decision making to determine his or her experience and competency in making decisions at work. Decision-making is a critical skill that your better employees demonstrate in their daily work.

Employers will want to ask interview questions to assess a candidate’s decision-making expertise for almost every job, but especially in jobs that involve leading and managing people. You need to focus your questions on the candidate's behavior and how they have performed in the past in situations similar to what they will encounter in your workplace. You don't want to ask them to look into a crystal ball and predict how they would respond in hypothetical situations.

You don't need to ask all of these questions, but if decision making is a responsible component in the job you are filling, you will want to ask several interview questions about your candidate's experience and effectiveness in decision making. Especially in a workplace where the use of the management philosophy of employee empowerment prevails in the organizational climate, these questions are critical.

Decision Making Questions

The following are ten sample decision-making questions that will help you determine the qualifications of your candidate in the area of decision-making.

  • Think about a time when you had a number of different choices or directions you could choose for a project, to solve a problem, or to hold an event. Walk us through the process you followed to make your decision about the appropriate direction to choose that had the best chance of a positive outcome.
  • Describe the process you typically follow to make a decision about a plan of action.
  • Think about an occasion when you needed to choose between two or three seemingly equally viable paths to accomplish a goal. How did you make your decision about which path to follow?
  • Think about a time when you had several options from which to choose, but none of them were sufficient to meet your goal. How did you decide which option to follow?
  • Faced with a choice between qualified candidates for a promotion, a lateral move, a project leader, or a new hire, describe how you made your choice.
  • Describe the process you followed to pick the college you attended.
  • How will you decide whether to accept a job offer should an employer offer you a job that you think is a good match for your skills, salary requirements, and preferred workplace?
  • When you are working with a coworker or reporting staff member, how do you decide upon and communicate the points at which you need feedback and progress reports?
  • Do you have a process or a methodology that you typically use when you are making decisions?
  • If you had the opportunity to select a new employee, what criteria would you use to determine who to hire? What's important to you in making this decision?

Candidate's Decision Making Question Answers Interpreted

Use these tips about how to assess your candidate’s answers to interview questions that assess decision-making skills to select the best, most qualified employees for your organization. This is how to assess your candidate’s answers to the interview questions you asked about decision making.

You want to hire an employee who demonstrates that he or she can logically make decisions. During the interview, listen for evidence of a systematic approach to weighing options. Look for evidence of effective decision making in the past. Ask the candidate how each of his or her decisions described in the answers to the above questions, worked out in the end.

Ask your candidate also about what he or she would do differently if faced with the above decisions again. You are looking for evidence that your candidate is willing to continue to learn and grow. Whether you agree with the decision the candidate made is less important than noting the decision-making process followed. If the decisions really seem illogical, like unsupported leaps of faith, or to come from out of the left-field, though, be wary of the candidate.

One caveat with these guidelines, however, is that you want to hire people who are creative, innovative, and willing to step outside of the box. At best, you should want to hire achievers. So, take care when you assess a creative, innovative approach to decision making. You need to rise above your own assumptions to understand your candidate.

You need right-brain employees just as you need left-brain dominant employees. Their roles might be different within your organization, but you do need both. And, a candidate who can demonstrate creativity, while seeming to make logical decisions, is potentially a great hire.

Assuming the role for which you are hiring an employee involves decision making, listen for past actions that demonstrate that the applicant can make logical, realistic decisions. Past successes speak more loudly in the interview setting than the applicant's projections about what he or she "thinks" that he or she would do when making a decision in the future.

You want an employee who has demonstrated the skills needed in the past or an employee who is interested and capable of learning how to make well-thought-out decisions.

Looking for more sample interview questions? Here are sample job interview questions for ​interviewing potential employees.