Interviewers are nowadays extremely smart. They want to extract every bit of information from you. They like to see your strengths, weakness, and how you conduct yourself in the office. For many, especially one who is in a leadership position, one of the questions that is directly posed is how have you dealt with making an unpopular decision?
This is a trick question considering it has a multitude of layers to uncover. If you are applying for a managerial post and you are confirmed for that post, all the office workers expect you to lead them on their cause.
And if you are ethical enough, the conundrum of choosing the bottom echelon workers over higher authorities does make you look shallow. So, how much you need to maintain parity between mincing your words matters enough here. Always answer in favor of your employer. Try to keep your employees happy and gain their trust to soften the blow. So, in this piece, we will deal with and talk about various manners in which you can answer the question on unpopular decision of yours in a job interview. Let us start:
How to Answer The Question “Tell Me About An Unpopular Decision Of Yours”, In An Interview?
As far as preparing an answer to this question is concerned, from personal experience, I can tell you it is better if you go with an example that is personally close to you. Once I was in a similar situation and I chose an instance where despite popular support for yellow journalism by fellow workers in my company. I thwarted attempts of my publishing house to take that direction, by solely focusing on social issue-based stories. I was able to do that since I felt too deeply and personally related to the job and the position.
Anything personal will give you an edge by knowing the story in and out. Try to always look for a decision that you took that had a positive outcome. See, the truth is many people want to embed a lot of idealism, but the truth is a giant corporate house will only care about how you perform, they do not care that, much about other avenues. If I have to sum up you need to understand these pointers briefly:
- Show leadership skills and decision-making ability in making the right choices for the greater good.
- Always focus on decisions that have been opposed at the first but have turned glorious later.
- Do not show off your strengths especially gloating that you were right and the rest were wrong, you knew that you were right all along.
What Are Behavioral Questions?
Behavioral questions as the name suggest target specific areas of the behavior. They look deeply rather than through abstract means to weed out behavioral specificities in you. It tries to analyze integrity, honesty, commitment, and determination among a few traits. It focuses solely on the analysis of the traits that will work for the company. When someone asks you about an unpopular decision the interviewer is testing you in the areas given below:
Fundamentals of Answering Behavioral Questions
There is a proper framework in place to answer the behavioral question. In that sense, even the unpopular question will have some basics in place. Now the fundamentals are there not only to finish your answer with better resonance and meaning but also exists to assist you in stressful and anxious situations.
Anxiety is a very big issue and an endemic problem and it really gets the best out of anyone. So how do you deal with the unpopular question decision then? The best approach to dealing with it lies in the acronym STAR. STAR refers to-
- S for Situation (Name and place where you enacted the unpopular decision)
- T for Task (Actions that were expected from you)
- A for Action (List of actions you have taken to deal with the problem)
- R for Result (How did you fare in your outcome in regards to the steps taken)
Point of Caution: Please make sure that you altercate some instances that come off as a little risky for their business. The corporate culture around work is still very anti-modern and anti-change. Mention tasks and actions only if they are conventional and professional enough to be told. As for the result, try to only mention instances where the outcome has only been positive and nothing less than that.
Example Answers of Unpopular Decisions Made In Your Career
Following are the different situations in which you generally tend to make unpopular decisions during your job. Let us see sample answers that can be given in such different scenarios:
Tell Me About A Time You Disagreed With Your Boss
This one is a little tricky to understand and answer. Since its gauging the correct intention on your part, They don’t want you to be poking your nose in their work but they also want to identify the courtesy, loyalty, and determination on your part to be loyal and do something positive for the company
Example Answer: Yes, sir I disagreed with my boss one time. However, that disagreement ended after we both prepared our own reports and made deliberations and discussions. Having seen my strengthening pointers my boss requested I carry forward my plan for this important project.
Point of Caution: If you ask me on a personal level, I have found this question extremely difficult. I didn’t like it when it was asked of me.
Tell Me About An Unpopular Decision You Took At Work
This question has to be analyzed through STAR which is the basic premise of a Behavioral Question. You are being judged on the situation, handling steps, and result. Please remember to mention instances or about the decision as a whole which has a positive objective and you agreed to its premise. Do not mention any instance which you do not know properly, or else they can trap you with inconsistencies in the narrative.
Example Answer: I had to take an unpopular decision for the greater good. I had to cut my bonuses and also my team entirely because of two consecutive bad quarters in terms of sales. I made this decision to let the company catch some breath, which worked. It helped motivating employees working under me and our department did not tank because of the safety revenue they had to retain through curbing bonus sharing. Since in the next quarter, we generated a good share in profit.
Tell Me About Any Unpopular Decisions You Took As A Leader
The question here generates an insight to gather a crucial aspect of your personality. Are you a people man? If you are then how do you deal with an authoritative figure? How do you manage a layered grading of status in the office to get work done? Be strongly determined and give a focused answer here.
Example Answer: One time I had to cancel my team’s holiday without telling them that the deadline I told them was a week earlier. They were getting complacent and I had to do something to motivate them to do their work better. So, I had to lie to them and provide them the greed of vacation to get them working.
Tell Me About Any Unpopular Decision You Took In Life
There is a compound question that acts as an abridger in both your persona and work type and style. A person wants to foray into your way of thinking not only limited in Office but also in general terms. So, do not give any example as a candid real response, answer it diplomatically. Embed factors and aspects that influence a person to stand up to their choices despite an opposition at the front.
Example Answer: I made a choice to leave home in order to build a better life for myself. My parents wanted me to get into the family business but I wanted to do something on my own.
Any Unpopular Decision You Took As A Student
This question also analyzes the growth you had. If you turned your life around that’s a positive trajectory. If you already were better it will help your case, but companies prefer people more who can camouflage, and wear different skins at a time.
Example Answer: I have always gone out of my way to register a complain to my teacher regarding students skipping their classes. I felt it was my moral duty to do so.
This was all about answering what unpopular decision have you taken in your life. However, once you answer that, therre are some obvious questions lined up in the interviewer’s mind. Here are a few instances.
How Did You Feel After Taking An Unpopular Decision?
While talking about your feelings when you took an unpopular decision, simply state in accordance to feeling light and you had a breeze while doing it. You need to not feel guilty as guilt can provide a spark in you to go a mile extra and that can be dangerous in the long run, hence it is very important to control feelings. Speak positively and tell them you feel good you contributed positively to the discussion.
How Did You Handle The Feedback On An Unpopular Decision You Took?
While answeing how did you handle the feedback on unpopular decision taken by you, emphasize that you were open to criticism and you believed at that time it was good. However, you did not contact the company head position holders because they were in the top echelon. In case it’s good feedback, mention how that did not stop you but instead motivated you to do better in life going ahead.
How To Show The Interviewer That You Can Make Unpopular Decisions With Courage?
Well, making an unpopular decision is not a normal thing, it takes courage and sense of doing things right. Following are the points that would show that you were courageous while making such a decision.
- By letting them know you did not bow down to daily musings about you from fellow employees.
- By sticking to the other higher authority members’ narrative.
- Honesty in work and carrying out the decision for the greater good, not just belief but in reality.
In an interview, it is hard to tackle behavioral questions especially when you are asked about going against your own people. The trick is balance. You do not want to stretch too thin or tear it out. You will get the sentiment if you have read my writeup properly.