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Why ask strategic-thinking interview questions

Strategic-thinking in the workplace is the ability to make business decisions by analyzing current and future scenarios. Strategic thinkers translate a company’s vision into doable actions.

Companies hire employees with a strategic mindset to help achieve long-term business goals. Strategic thinkers:

  • Set long-term objectives
  • Proactively identify and address potential risks
  • Use resources efficiently
  • Develop action plans in the face of obstacles
  • Successfully deal with competition

Here are some sample strategic-thinking interview questions to ask candidates during interviews:

Examples of strategic-thinking interview questions

  • How much time per week or month do you invest in strategic planning? What do you do?
  • How do you inform your team and other departments within your company about your strategic decisions?
  • Describe a time when you proactively identified and addressed an issue at your company.
  • How do you set long-term goals for your team? How often do you check and review these goals?
  • Describe a time when you failed to achieve your goals and had to follow a different approach. What happened?
  • What are the key factors you take into consideration when building an action plan? (e.g. to increase sales)
  • How do you measure a strategy’s effectiveness?

Tips to assess candidates’ strategic-thinking skills

  • Before deciding on a business plan, employees need to know how their company or team works. During interviews, evaluate candidates’ analytical skills in gathering and evaluating information.
  • Ask candidates to explain how they craft a strategy for their company/team. Opt for people who are methodical and assess all alternatives and potential risks.
  • Describe a past campaign/methodology that failed and ask candidates to evaluate it. You’ll be able to test whether candidates can identify mistakes and suggest better solutions.
  • Challenge candidates with hypothetical scenarios that relate to your company’s operations. Test whether they understand your needs and can craft strategies that align with your objectives.

Red flags

  • They’re uncomfortable making decisions. To choose the best tactics, employees need to evaluate various alternatives, weigh pros and cons and forecast potential risks. Candidates who lack confidence and seem nervous when they have to make a decision mightn’t be a good fit.
  • They lack leadership skills. Strategic planning involves setting challenging objectives and motivating your team to achieve these goals. Look for candidates who are good team leaders and are confident delegating tasks.
  • They don’t consider consequences. Candidates who approach your questions superficially and pick the first answer that comes in mind, mightn’t be prepared to think strategically when problems occur.
  • They don’t embrace change. Strategies need to be flexible. If your candidates are not adaptive and have poor change management skills, they’re likely to stick to an ineffective approach instead of re-evaluating strategies.
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