What Is The Most Difficult Decision You've Made In The Last Two Years

What Is The Most Difficult Decision You’ve Made In The Last Two Years?

How to Answer Interview Question: What Is The Most Difficult Decision You’ve Made In The Last Two Years?

Do you remember the most difficult decision you’ve made in the last two years? You should, because it could be your next interview question.

As humans, we make decisions every day. From going to work to choosing what to wear, these are decisions we make every time albeit easy. Yet, there are those decisions that you cannot make without properly analyzing them because they have consequences.

We are about to discuss how to answer this question, and also reveal some relatable examples you can mention in this guide.


Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

Interviewers hardly ask candidates questions randomly without wanting to assess some aspects of their character. Here are some reasons interviewers ask this thought-provoking question:

To assess your decision-making capacity.

Questions about decision-making are never random questions. The first information interviewers are willing to find out from candidates, in this case, is their capacity to make good long-term and short-term decisions.

Decision-making is a skill that every employer hopes to find in their ideal candidate. If they can ascertain that a candidate has this trait, their job becomes easier. Thus, when an interviewer asks about past decisions with huge significance, the answer you give is key to landing the job.

To know how you define “difficult”.

People see the world differently and they interpret events uniquely as well. Interviewers ask you about past decisions to know what task or decision is difficult for you. Employers know how difficult or otherwise the role they are offering is.

If your decision doesn’t seem difficult by their high standards, they would know straight away. This would help them determine if the role would be overwhelming for you or whether you can handle it perfectly.

To see if you can meet the demands of the new job.

Every role an employer is offering to candidates has its demands whether great or small. In the case where an interviewer asks about what decisions you found difficult, it is to see how you measure up to the new role’s demands.

Some positions are defined by the decisions the employer or professional in charge makes. Also, the decisions made by those in such positions affect not just them but the organization as a whole. Some decisions are not always favorable, while others are necessary but may seem cruel.

If it is your job, you would have to face the consequences and do it anyway. When the interviewer discovers that perhaps a candidate struggles to live with tough decisions, it would be a turn-off.

You are probably applying for a managerial role.

When interviewers ask questions about decision-making, it is most likely for a managerial candidate. Being the manager of a unit or group of junior colleagues is a huge responsibility. In some cases, you hold the key to their professional fortunes in your hands.

Managers make tough decisions. Some decisions they make are to the detriment of their friends, close colleagues, family, and themselves. Yet, they have to make these decisions for the greater good. It is part of a manager’s job to oversee and report on the performances of other colleagues. Difficult decisions like having to deliver bad news to colleagues come with the territory.

These are only a few examples of the harsh decisions a manager would have to make. Thus, interviewers ask this question to be sure that managerial candidates are ready for the challenge.

To find out if you are resourceful.

Being in a tough situation where you must make a difficult decision takes a combination of skillsets to scale through. At the end of the day, the interviewer would like to know the outcome of the whole experience. This is why resourcefulness sits on top of the list of skillsets you need to explain your experience.

When faced with a tough decision, being resourceful would make you find ways to scale through. This skill set is one of the few that interviewers would deduce from your explanation. While not all interviewers might ask this question with this in mind at first, your resourcefulness will be revealed eventually.


How to Answer the Question

Questions like these demand the full concentration of a candidate to analyze and come up with a satisfactory answer. The following are steps to answering a question about your past difficult decisions:

Pause and analyze the question

In general, interview questions are unpredictable and they can catch even the most eloquent candidates off guard. Thus, it pays to be slow to answer the question regarding your experience with decision-making.

The first step to answering this question favorably is taking your time to analyze the question. Before you tell the interviewer about your experience, pause and take a breath. Digest the question within seconds before coming up with an answer.

Remember that there is no universal right answer for this question. Thus, you need not worry too much about how the answer would sound. As long as your answer is factual and relatable, pause before you speak.

Pay attention to the keyword

One of the best attributes of a successful job seeker is the ability to pay attention to detail. Not only will this skill help them if they eventually land the job, but it will also come in handy during the interview.

An attentive candidate would pay attention to certain keywords in interview questions such as these. In this question, one of the keywords is “difficult.” This means that your answer must show that you found the decision to be a truly difficult one for many reasons.

Be brief

In answering an interview question, simplicity is key and nothing portrays it more than brevity. Especially when a tricky interview question such as past difficult decisions comes up, giving brief answers helps. With brief answers, you would be spending less time in an uncomfortable situation.

There are several details you would need to highlight and points to get across. Yet, it pays to focus more on the main points which would help you highlight your strengths. It is advised that you spend at least 70 percent of the time talking about how your skills helped you make the decision.

Although other aspects of the experience matter, don’t dwell so much on them. By doing so, you would give a brief answer while you dwell on the best parts of the experience. Since virtually every interviewer prefers concise answers, being brief will score you points with the interviewer.


Make sure the decision relates to your career at the time

Making decisions is part of being human. People make decisions in every facet of their lives, including what affects them as individuals and as groups. However, when answering a question about decision-making in an interview, it’s best to keep it professional.

Although some might argue that every experience counts, consider the fact that you are being interviewed. Thus, you must try to make every detail show that you are the right fit for the job.

Both the examples and the skillsets you choose to speak on should all relate to the job. Also, where you had to make the decision should by default be at your previous workplace. Even when you talk about how the decision affected you and others involved, they should be your colleagues. The only exception should be if the situation affects your family.

When you keep it professional, your experience becomes more relatable to the interviewer. That would get a more positive response.


Show how your skills and knowledge helped you make the decision

This is the part where you need to spend the most time when answering. At the end of the day, your skills and knowledge are some of the most important aspects you want the interviewer to notice. What better way to highlight them than to talk about how they helped you through a difficult period?

In a situation such as this, emotions tend to take control of people’s thoughts which clouds their judgment. For every difficult decision, some skillsets can help people make informed and rational decisions. When you highlight them, state how they made you come up with the decision no matter how difficult.

Likewise, if the knowledge you gained from life, work, or even books helped you decide, mention it. No matter how insignificant these skills seem to you, as long as they helped you decide, they matter.

By highlighting these skills and knowledge, you are telling the interviewer that you are blessed with relatable skills. Also, you are informing the potential employer that you make decisions you think through.


Highlight the lessons learned from the process

When a candidate is faced with interview questions, there are additional ways for them to score points with the interviewer. One of such ways is to always draw lessons from every experience.

Employers like to think that candidates should make virtually every experience an opportunity for learning and development. Thus, whenever a question like this comes up, you have to mention the lessons you learned from the experience.

After talking about how you took the decision, go into what the experience taught you. If there are things you found out about yourself that you never knew before then, mention them. Likewise, if the experience made you develop other skillsets, speak on it.

Although not many interviewers would expect you to add this to your answer, hearing it would earn you a positive response.


Reveal the result and reflect

An intense interview question about a difficult decision you made previously deserves a grand ending. Thus, the best way to conclude this answer is by stating the outcome of your decision. Likewise, your reflections on the experience should be shared.

In about two sentences, tell the interviewer if you eventually achieved your aim with the decision you made. If the results were satisfactory afterward, you must let them know. It only goes to justify the decision you made.

In the same way, talk about how you feel about the decision looking back on it. Would you still make that decision now if you had to? How do you think you should have made the decision differently? These are the ways to close this answer in a good fashion.


Examples of Tough Decisions You Can Talk about

Moving to a different city

Sometimes, professionals have to make sacrifices for their families which would affect their jobs. On the other hand, there are decisions employees make to keep their jobs that affect their families.

A good example is having to move to a different city or country to keep their jobs. Moving is never simple. It affects the family in many ways, especially the children. Anyone in this position would need to decide between forgoing a big opportunity and disrupting the children’s lives.

Taking a pay-cut

Likewise, having to take a pay cut is not what any employee would ever wish for. Yet, they might have to do it to save their jobs. This will not only affect them but those who depend on them as well. Also, adjusting to life on a reduced salary is never easy. Here, an employee is faced with deciding whether to leave for pride’s sake or take the pay cut and still have a job.

Laying-off staff

Those in managerial positions who may have to lay off staff would also have a hard time deciding on it. Some of the ones affected might be close friends with the candidate. What makes it harder is when the decision doesn’t affect your job and others might think you betrayed them.



Any interview question about decision-making is usually a tough one. However, when a question such as this comes up, avoid being overly personal with your answers or examples. Try to keep it professional in a way that everything you say relates to the position you are applying for.

Trying to get some sympathy from the interviewer is not a good idea in this case. They would know if someone was trying to play on their emotions. More importantly, try not to justify an unethical decision you made even if it seemed to you like the only choice at the time. Lastly, overconfidence in your decision-making should be toned down. Let us know in the comments section how you handled a similar interview question in the comments section below.


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