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Have you ever had to dismiss someone?


Disciplines > Job-finding > Interview questions > Have you ever had to dismiss someone?

The question | What they are looking for | How to answer | See also


The question

Have you ever had to dismiss someone?

Have you ever fired somebody on the spot?

What do you do when you have to let somebody go?

Have you ever had to downsize the organization?

What they are looking for

Dismissing people is a difficult situation and they may well be testing how you respond to this stress, for example by putting it off or hurrying it up (they may probe for this).

Dismissal is tricky legal process, and you have to do it properly or you may open your employer to damaging litigation. They thus may check, for example, whether you involved HR or Legal experts.

It can also be an upsetting process all around and they may be interested in how you dealt with emotions, including those of the person being dismissed and other people (it can be very scary when you friends get sacked). Your own thoughts and emotions also are of interest, including how you focused on others vs. your own worries.

How to answer

Show that you do not take dismissal lightly, but do not shy away from it when it is necessary. Show that you can do the job when necessary.

When one of my sales people failed to meet sales quota for the third month in a row, it was clear that the job was not for him. Rather than dangle it out further, I talked with him about it and we agreed the he should leave. I told the rest of the team carefully so it would not be a surprise for them. 

Show that you recognized and can control your stress and emotions, even in difficult situations, and can follow due process, involving others.

One of my people was caught stealing last year, which initially made me very cross. I didn't want to deal with it whilst angry, so went for a short walk and talked with HR. The person involved was very surprised and got very upset, but I managed to stay calm and follow through the correct procedures.

See also

Stress, How do you handle stressful situations?

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