Behavioural Interview Question – Tell me about a time you made a difficult decision


Hello there! In this post, we’ll answer the situational interview question: “Tell me about a time you had to make a difficult decision.” “Tell me about a time you had to make a difficult decision.”


In this post, we’re going to cover:


  • Why is this question asked?


  • What to say when you’re answering, how to answer it


  • And how to wrap it up gracefully.

So, stay tuned!


Behavioural interview questions around decision making come up a lot. So, why is this question asked? The question is around how you had to make a difficult decision, and you didn’t have all the information that you needed, so a time when your decision was unclear, and there was no one around to ask, your manager wasn’t available. So, what did you do? Basically, there is no way for you to be sure you were doing the right thing here. You had to make the call on your own and use your own judgment. How did you handle it? And how did you decide what the right call was?


What’s the point of this question?


It’s to see how resourceful you can be and to get an insight on your thought process. In most situations, people, when they have to make a hard decision, and there’s nowhere to turn, they panic, and that’s a normal response.


So, how could you answer this question better?


We’re going to answer it, again, by telling the story and using the S.A.R.I. formula. If you’re not familiar with the S.A.R.I formula by now, it is Situation, Action, Result, and Interesting features. The S.A.R.I. formula comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s called S.A.R. Sometimes it’s called S.T.A.R., which stands for Situation or Task, Action, Result. It’s all the same.


So, you want to tell a memorable and interesting story that includes just enough detail to give the interviewer a good idea of the situation you were in. So, let’s get into it.



Step 1: The Situation – setting the stage


So, set up the situation, starting with what was difficult about the decision and how you stayed calm and were able to think your way through it. What was the outcome that you were focused on getting, and how did you go about getting it?


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Step 2: The Action You Took


What were the actions that you took to get to the specific outcome that you were going for? You can talk about one to three actions here. This is the meat of your answer. You want to focus most of your time here. You want to focus specifically on what YOU did to get to the result you wanted.


Step 3: Results


What happened in the end? How did the situation turn out? A good story has to have a happy ending, so what you want to do is make sure that you wrap it up neatly with what happened and how you got there. Don’t leave them wondering.


Step 4: Interesting Features


So, this is a bonus step, but it really is the icing on the cake—interesting features. So, interesting features could be highlighting your learning, whatever it was that you learned, how are you different today from this experience, what would you do differently next time…


There we have it. What’s your go-to response when you’re faced with a difficult decision? How do you deal when there is nowhere to go, there’s nobody to ask, and there are no visible resources to call upon? How did you proceed? What logic or rationale did you use to come up with the result that you did? How did it turn out?


Thank you so much for reading. If you’d like help with more of these questions, I’ve put together a guide, and it’s very comprehensive. It’s got 10+ examples of the most common questions. You can download the guide and get instant access right now. What you’ll get when you download this guide is you will get immediate access to an in-depth look at the S.A.R.I. formula and the psychology behind it (we’ll break it down step by step), a series of concrete examples for the top-ten most commonly asked situational questions, and fill-in-the-blank templates already done for you so that you can get going on your own answers. And if you’re still getting stuck because preparing these stories is a challenge, I’ve also included 25 questions that you can ask yourself to come up with your own stories much quicker and more effectively. You’ll get all of this in a beautifully designed workbook designed specifically for you to prepare for your next interview. By the end of working through this guide, you’ll be totally ready for any situational interview question that gets thrown your way. Click below to get it now.


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Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on the other side and next week.


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