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Tell me about a time you fired someone.

"Tell me about a time you fired someone."

Firing someone is a difficult task.  Usually you will not be asked this question unless it is for a management position.  You should emphasize a couple of key things when you answer this question.  First, you should be very professional about firing someone.  Second, you should mention the procedures you took so the action of firing is justified.  I'll give an example for someone who has never fired someone and an example for having fired someone.

Short Answers

"In my last position, I had four people reporting to me.  One of my direct reports failed to show up on time, complete assignments, and really didn't care about the work.  I tried to encourage the employee, assign different types of work to him, and even sat down and showed him how to do things.  After 2 months of trying, I had to let him go."

"Our company was down sizing and I had to let two people go.  It's easier when a person does a terrible job, but if everyone is doing there job, it's more difficult.  I had to select the bottom two performers and explained why they were being let go."

Long Answers

"During my second year as a manager, I had to fire one of my directs.  I can't say it was a difficult task because not only did he not do his job well, he didn't want to try.  Initially, we put him on probation monitoring his work, we tried to give him different types of work that he might do better at, and we even assigned a mentor to him.  However, even through all this, he was a weak performer.  I consulted with other management members and we all agreed it was best for the company to let him go.  I got together with an HR representative and told him that he no longer has a job here.  He wasn't surprised at all.  He just picked up his things and left."

"I've never had to fire somebody yet.  I believe that a manager should mentor and lead all team members to be a solid performer.  But I know that there are some people who can't or won't perform despite management's best effort.  So in that case, I would have to let someone go in a professional manner following the procedures set by the company."

Both of these are good answers.  They mention that a manager should take actions to make the worker better, but sometimes turning something bad to something good is impossible, so the only action is to fire someone.  The person with experience outlines the steps taken.  For example, the probation, assigning different work, providing a mentor, etc.  Then in the end he was fired.  The second example shows despite experience, that he or she would fire someone in a professional manner following procedure.

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