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Hiring IQ Test – Question 5

Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 | 0 comments

Describe a time when you had to make an unpopular decision.

Which response actually answers the question? Which answer should you be wary of? Are there any red flags?

Answer A

In my job as a project manager I worked with a team of technicians, and it was my task to find cost-cutting measures. This included laying off personnel. I labored over my decision to make sure that I was being objective. I analyzed each person and his or her role in the project. In the end I was asked to cut staff by 20 percent. I prepared my list based on my careful planning. I was the one who had to tell each person the job was being cut. I felt I had treated the situation as fairly as I could, but I must admit it was a very tough task to announce the layoffs to my staff.

The Strongest Answer

(A) This is a great example of a time when a tough decision had to be made. As the interviewer you can hear that although telling people that their jobs were over was not pleasant, it was dealt with objectively. The tone of the answer indicates that this was done in a very careful and caring manner. It also shows careful preparation with the planning of the task. This answer also demonstrates strength in the ability to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Answer B

There was a time when I decided to hire an external candidate for a job that several internal candidates had applied for. Many people were upset with my decision and let me know about it. In fact, one person actually was upset enough to go to human resources and claim that she was discriminated against. I defended my decision to people who complained and tried to justify my decision. I had to do what I felt was in the best interest of the department. I felt like I had picked an excellent candidate and stood by my decision.

The Mediocre Answer

(B) This answer does not give any specifics about the candidate herself. She made the decision, but you as the interviewer do not know why she made the decision or what criteria she used to justify not hiring the internal candidates. You know that one person went to HR to complain, and you know that people were upset with her, but you don't know much more than that. You will need to find out more information by probing.

Answer C

Sometimes a manager has to make unpopular decisions. That's what we get paid to do—to think outside the box and make decisions. I've made some difficult decisions over my career, and some were the right decisions and some the wrong decisions. If I think something is wrong, I will let you know about it. I'm not a person who lets things pile up. I try to act on the problem as soon after it happened as possible.

The Weakest Answer

(C) This is the weakest answer because it does not answer the question. It starts out with a statement and then carries that statement through the answer. A red flag is the statement, "some were the wrong decisions." If you hear an answer like this, probe further to find out if the wrong decisions were well thought out or made in the spur of the moment.