“Have you ever had to fire anyone? How did you feel after that?” These kinds of important interview questions are generally aimed at managerial or executive level candidates.
TRAP: This “innocent” question could be a trap door that sends you down a chute and lands you in a heap of dust outside the front door. Why? Because its real intent is not just to see if you’ve got the stomach to fire, but also to uncover poor judgment in hiring which has caused you to fire so many. Also, if you fire so often, you could be a tyrant.
So don’t rise to the bait by boasting how many you’ve fired unless you’re prepared to explain why it was beyond your control, and not the result of your poor hiring procedures or foul temperament.
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ACCEPTABLE ANSWER: Describe the rational and sensible management process you follow in both hiring and firing.
Example: “My whole management approach is to hire the best people I can find, train them thoroughly and well, get them excited and proud to be part of our team, and then work with them to achieve our goals together. If you do all of that right, especially hiring the right people, I’ve found you don’t have to fire very often.
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“So with me, firing is a last resort. But when it’s got to be done, it’s got to be done, and the faster and cleaner, the better. A poor employee can wreak terrible damage in undermining the morale of an entire team of good people. When there’s no other way, I’ve found it’s better for all concerned to act decisively in getting rid of offenders who won’t change their ways.”
Note: “Have you ever had to fire anyone” may be paraphrased as “how many people have you let go”.
Have you fired people? Which interview tips and tricks would you like to share? We’d love to know in the comments.