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Strategic-thinking interview questions and answers

Use these sample strategic-thinking interview questions to identify candidates who can craft effective strategies for your company’s needs.

Christina Pavlou
Christina Pavlou

An experienced recruiter and HR professional who has transferred her expertise to insightful content to support others in HR.

Strategic-thinking interview questions

10 good strategic-thinking interview questions:

  1. How much time per week or month do you invest in strategic planning? What do you do?
  2. How do you inform your team and other departments within your company about your strategic decisions?
  3. Describe a time when you proactively identified and addressed an issue at your company.
  4. How do you set long-term goals for your team? How often do you check and review these goals?
  5. Describe a time when you failed to achieve your goals and had to follow a different approach. What happened?
  6. What are the key factors you take into consideration when building an action plan? (e.g., to increase sales)
  7. How do you measure a strategy’s effectiveness?
  8. How do you craft a strategy for your company/team?
  9. Describe a past campaign/methodology that failed and evaluate it.
  10. How do you handle hypothetical scenarios related to your company’s operations?

1. How much time per week or month do you invest in strategic planning? What do you do?

This question gauges the candidate’s commitment to strategic planning and their typical processes.

Sample answer:

“I dedicate about 4 hours every week to strategic planning. I review current projects, assess progress towards our goals, and adjust our approach based on feedback and results.”

2. How do you inform your team and other departments within your company about your strategic decisions?

Effective communication is crucial for strategy implementation. This question assesses how the candidate ensures everyone is aligned.

Sample answer:

“I hold monthly strategy meetings with my team and quarterly ones with other departments. I also use written communication for significant updates and encourage open feedback.”

3. Describe a time when you proactively identified and addressed an issue at your company.

This question evaluates the candidate’s foresight and proactive approach.

Sample answer:

“I noticed a recurring issue in our supply chain that could lead to delays. I organized a cross-functional team to address it, resulting in a new vendor partnership and improved delivery times.”

4. How do you set long-term goals for your team? How often do you check and review these goals?

Understanding goal-setting processes can provide insights into a candidate’s strategic approach.

Sample answer:

“I set annual goals based on company objectives and market trends. We review progress monthly and adjust strategies quarterly to ensure we’re on track.”

5. Describe a time when you failed to achieve your goals and had to follow a different approach. What happened?

Resilience and adaptability are crucial traits. This question assesses how the candidate handles setbacks.

Sample answer:

“We launched a product that didn’t gain traction. After analyzing feedback, we realized the market wasn’t ready. We pivoted to a different segment, leveraging the product’s strengths, and saw improved results.”

6. What are the key factors you take into consideration when building an action plan? (e.g., to increase sales)

This question delves into the candidate’s planning process and what they prioritize.

Sample answer:

“I consider market trends, customer feedback, competitive analysis, and internal capabilities. I also ensure we have clear KPIs to measure success.”

7. How do you measure a strategy’s effectiveness?

Understanding how a candidate evaluates success can provide insights into their analytical skills.

Sample answer:

“I use a mix of quantitative metrics, like sales growth or market share, and qualitative feedback from teams and customers. Regular reviews ensure we’re meeting objectives.”

8. How do you craft a strategy for your company/team?

This question assesses the candidate’s strategic formulation process.

Sample answer:

“I start by understanding our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). I then align this with company objectives, gather input from key stakeholders, and draft a strategy with clear milestones.”

9. Describe a past campaign/methodology that failed and evaluate it.

Learning from failures is essential. This question gauges the candidate’s introspection and learning abilities.

Sample answer:

“We tried a new marketing campaign that didn’t resonate. On reflection, we realized we hadn’t adequately researched our target audience’s preferences. We learned the importance of thorough market research.”

10. How do you handle hypothetical scenarios related to your company’s operations?

This question tests the candidate’s problem-solving skills and their ability to think on their feet.

Sample answer:

“I break down the scenario into key components, consider the implications of each, and develop a strategy based on the best possible outcome for the company.”

Why it’s important to 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

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.

Don’t miss: The best interview questions to ask candidates (and how to evaluate answers).

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