Sample Behavioral Interview Question – Describe a Time You Made a Risky Decision

JUNE 25, 2010 | BY MICAH

Behavioral interview questions should be some of the easiest questions to answer. Unlike other job interview questions where you are asked things you may not know the answer to (such as “What do you know about this company?), behavioral interview questions are about things that have already happened.

Yet behavioral questions are some of the toughest to answer. This is due to a number of different factors:

  • You have to sit and think about a time where you encountered the situation.
  • You have to describe in detail what may have been a simple event.
  • You have to make sure that your answer is actually a good answer, and one that reflects well on your candidacy. .

All of these can make it very hard to answer each question. That is why interviewers ask them, and that is also why you need to practice behavioral interview questions so you can be prepared with a great answer any time an employer asks.

Behavioral Question #1: Describe a Time You Made a Risky Decision

From an employer perspective, this is a great question. You may fall into the trap of discussing something you should not have done at work. Don’t fall for it. When describing a risky decision always make sure that:

  • Both options make you appear to be a great employee. For example, whether to put funds towards an online marketing campaign or a direct marketing campaign.
  • You have a reason behind your decision. Make one up if you don’t. All risky decisions should have reasoning behind them, because the situation you are describing should be 100% business related. The risk should not be “will I get in trouble.” The risk should be “Was this the right use of our resources.”
  • If the situation did not turn out well, mention the steps you undertook to fix them and/or what you learned from the experience that makes you a stronger employee.

The key is to avoid sounding like a poor worker with the decision you are describing. An example would be “This one time my boss told me to try to give one of my potential clients a 5% discount in order to save a deal that had gone south. But I felt that there was still a chance I could win the client for full price, and wanted to take that risk. In the end, I was able to win over the client for full cost.”

This may sound like a good answer. You took a risk, and you came out ahead. However, this can also be a risky answer, because you are essentially telling the employer that you disobeyed your boss, you said yourself that your potential client was going south (implying you were not doing a good job selling them on the product), and you almost lost potential business over what sounds like a small amount of money. Your best answer will be one that the risk was in time spent, and preferably one where you came out ahead.

Avoid any answer that makes it look the choices were “Will I get in trouble or will something great happen” and stick with answers that are “This option looked worthwhile, this option also looked worthwhile, I chose the latter option for these reasons…”

Take Away Interview Tips

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