Decision making

Decision making involves reviewing a problem or situation which may need to change, understanding potential alternatives and their implications, making a choice and accepting the consequences, or reviewing the results and making further changes as needed.

You may need to use creativity, logical analysis, emotional intelligence (where your decision will affect yourself or others), time management - and courage to actually make the decision.

Activities where you could develop decision making

You are making decisions all the time, from the trivial to the life-changing. Take time to reflect on any decisions in daily life which you found challenging or where the consequences would affect you personally. What factors did you consider? How did you try to mitigate any risks? How did you react to the outcomes of your decisions.

Your degree course may mean you have to make decisions which have implications for others on your course, such as in group projects or assignments, or where you take on a role as a student rep or PASS leader. For any volunteer or paid work you do, your decisions may affect colleagues or customers. Think about how those decisions have impacted your colleagues, the organisation - and yourself.

The following activities, both locally and on campus, may be good ways to practise decision making:

  • Manchester Leadership Programme Academic module open to most undergraduate students at Manchester
  • Enterprise Challenge Academic module open to most undergraduate students at Manchester.
  • Skills Training Sessions A variety of sessions are usually offered during the academic year, run by employers or careers consultants. Check CareerConnect for forthcoming events that include a scenario involving decision making.
  • Students' Union activities Leadership or committee roles in student activities
  • Virtual work experience Employer created case studies and work simulations, to allow you to experience the kinds of decision making needed in the workplace
  • Volunteering Gives you the chance to develop a range of skills while giving something back to the community.

How is Decision making assessed in recruitment?

Application form and interview questions

Some examples of application form and interview questions which are designed to test decision making skills:

  • We all have to make unpopular decisions that may affect others. Describe a situation when you have had to make such a decision. What did you learn from this experience?
  • Tell us about a time when you took responsibility for making a key decision.
  • How would you describe your preferred decision making style?

If you are unsure how to structure an answer for either application or interview questions, visit the application and interviews section of our website and find out about the CAR (context, action, result) and STAR (situation, task, action, result) models. Our recommendations are based on feedback from employers.

Assessment centres

  • During an assessment centre exercise you may be asked to write up a set of proposals on a business problem. Your decision making skills will be crucial in identifying solutions that you can justify and provide a strong case for selection.
  • E -tray/in-tray exercises test your ability to make effective decisions on prioritising correspondence and actioning accordingly.