Terminations and corrective discipline measures can be very difficult to do but, with experience, they do get more comfortable. Talk to the interviewer about the extent of your experience with terminations and discipline. If you do have the experience: 'I have been a part of individual terminations and group lay-offs throughout my career. I am comfortable with these types of tasks.' If you do not have the experience, here is an example answer: "I have not been in a position to perform terminations or hold corrective discipline meetings; however, I would be willing to perform these types of tasks with a small amount of training and research."
"I have not been in a position to perform terminations or hold corrective discipline meetings; however, I would be willing to perform these types of tasks with a small amount of training and research."
"I do have some experience with terminations. At my last position, our HR department took the lead on terminations, but I was in the room for every one of them to manage the paperwork involved. I did also handle the communication for all small employee disciplinary actions. The HR department assisted on every issue."
"As a seasoned manager, I have performed many employee terminations and led numerous performance reviews. So long as I have the data to back the conversation, I am comfortable in these situations."
"I have not been in a management role within marketing so no, I do not have experience with the termination of employees. With that said, I have had to fire a couple of clients in my career. I imagine the conversations are very similar. When this happens, I review expectations, explain how they are not realistic, and then express my concern that we may not be the best collaboration."
"Retail, as you know, is a high-turnover industry. I have been involved in more terminations than I would like in the past; however, it's the name of the game as a retail sales manager. I have come up with a powerful interview process recently which has eliminated many poor hiring choices. I would love to share my strategy with you sometime."
"Recently I read the book 'Fix Them or Fire Them' by Steven J. Shaer. The premise of the book is how to manage under-performing employees, offering practical help and strategies for real-life situations. The book made me much more comfortable with employee terminations and performance reviews. Have you read it?"
"I have experience with disciplinary action regarding students but of course, not with fellow teachers. When it comes to students, I will typically involve the Principal and the parents of the student. I prefer a conversation vs. hammering down on the student. I will ask questions like 'How can we better support your learning?', for example."
Being experienced, and in a senior role means that you will face significant dilemmas in your career that could potentially affect many employees or the company as a whole. Some crisis you may have faced could include: - The bankruptcy of your organization - Major Layoffs - Significant budget cuts - Negative Press - A major product recall - Cybersecurity hacks - Natural disasters - Senior level misconduct Give an overview of the situation, ensuring that you do not breach any NDA or confidentiality agreements surrounding the issue. Highlight the part that you played in recovering from the crisis and your overall attitude and mentality through the situation.
"In a previous company, when I was the VP, our President and CEO was publicly accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. Our board went into action mode immediately asking him to step down until the investigation was complete. I was acting President, taking on his responsibilities in the meantime. Our responsibilities were quite fluid and intertwined already so taking on his workload was not the issue. The challenge was not commenting on the situation as it seemed everyone I came across wanted to know. I maintained confidentiality and did not speak about the situation until given the green-light by our legal team."
"My current organization began major layoffs about six months ago. I have made it past three rounds so far, but am unsure of the future. Being an executive member of the administration team, I must remain positive at all times. I encourage our more junior administrators and take the opportunity to coach them to help improve their work performance, hopefully increasing their chance of keeping their job. For myself, I am actively searching, but quietly. I am seeking a stable opportunity where I know my job is safe."
"I was a club manager at a high-end yacht club in Hong Kong when the SARS crisis began. It was an incredibly challenging time for our club members in a panic and tourism dropping nearly 85% overnight. I worked closely with the Marketing Director of the club, and we put out a public statement outlining the actions that we were taking to ensure the safety of our club members and tourists. The release improved our situation, and we were able to break even at least until the crisis was over."
"I was part of an agency that went bankrupt in the middle of some major campaigns. The chaos was something I had never experienced before. There were multitudes of angry clients and unpaid bills. I quickly found a new agency to work for, and they agreed to take on the clients from the dissolved agency, at a discounted service rate. I successfully brought over 45% of the accounts that I had prior."
"I worked for Company ABC when our systems were hacked, resulting in the exposure of over 1 million customer credit card numbers. I traveled from store-to-store, putting out fires, as I was the regional manager at the time. It was pure chaos with employees quitting, customers showing up to demand if they were exposed, and even the local news showing up. I coped by following the direction of our hired PR agency, to a tee. Luckily I made it through in one piece!"
"We had a major airbag recall when I was the Sales Director for Company XYZ. The damage control was something that I have never experienced before, and hope never to experience again. Luckily I had some strong Marketing and PR departments to rely upon through the crisis. I followed their lead, and the recommendations from our legal team of course."
"Last year our district had significant budget cuts. These cuts meant that we were no longer eligible for a pay raise, we experienced the skimming of our benefits package, had zero budget for classroom materials and the inability to attend professional development courses. Luckily, our parent community and the city were incredibly passionate, and they helped us to raise enough funds to help with the cost of new materials and in-class technology. It was truly heartwarming to see what could happen when the community came together."
No matter your level of experience, there is always an opportunity to grow and learn. Regardless of your seniority level, you can choose to become better at your job, every day. Perhaps you have industry governing associations that offer certifications and training. Your city's University may have related courses that will boost your recent knowledge, and there are a plethora of online courses available on platforms such as Udemy or Teachable. Show the interviewer that you are not too proud to continue your education, even if you are the CEO!
"Professional development is incredibly important to me. This year I would like to take a course on Non-Profit Benchmarking. As an analyst, I have seen a major increase in inquiries from not for profit organizations and admittedly, need to learn more. I have a keen interest in the ways that donors, the government, and other foundations use reported benchmarks to determine where their donations will go."
"As an administrative professional, I can say without a doubt that the landscape is always changing when it comes to tech, programs, and apps! It's a lot to keep up with for sure. This past year I took a Cloud Training Course and this year I have my sights on some courses related to social media marketing so that I can help the companies that I join by adding social media management to my skillset toolbox."
"I have been in a management role since the very early stages of my career and, for one reason or another, my work became more important than formal professional development. If I could take any training now, I would like to pursue my PMP Certification. I believe that the credentials of being certified in project management will hold a lot of weight as I climb the ladder in my career."
"Marketing professionals should always be taking additional coursework of some sort. I fully support that thought and do take at least one new certification per year. This year I would like to refresh my knowledge of online consumer behavior. I did take this course a couple of years ago; however, with social media and analytics supercharged since then, I think it would be beneficial for me to partake again."
"I do have a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration; however, I have been learning more about the Professional Program Certificate in Retail and Omnichannel Management from Dartmouth College. They offer online coursework options. Have you hired anyone for this particular certification?"
"I landed in medical device sales at the very start of my career and had enjoyed many years of on-the-job training and relied on personal research, to succeed. With that said, additional industry certification would never hurt. I would be interested in taking an accredited medical sales program. Might you have one that you recommend?"
"There are a lot of options for educators to gain professional development. I recently took a course in Collaborative Curriculum Development. I have my eye on a Peer Coaching course for this coming month. Looking at my overall background, do you have any recommendations?"
Many people believe that the more senior the role, the more relaxed their lives will get but we all know that isn't the case! Discuss with the interviewer how you ensure that you have a steady balance between work and life. Hiring manager's don't want to hear that you are a workaholic because that can equal burnout. Discuss how you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
"I believe in the importance of work/life balance, and encourage my teammates to do the same. One way that I ensure a healthy balance is to turn my email off one hour per night, during dinnertime. That is my family time, and I aim to set a good example for my children that it is not necessary to always be 'on.'"
"I am online for the majority of my day, so when I get home, I am sure to unplug. I will read a book, go for a walk outside, or talk on the phone with a family member. Connecting with something other than a computer screen is important. This 'back to basics' approach keeps me grounded and refreshes me for the following day."
"As a senior manager, I spend a lot of time putting out fires and answering questions. Once I arrive home, I like to spend some time on the treadmill, clearing my head, while I listen to some good tunes. I need about one hour or so of time to myself...no talking to anyone, and vice versa. After that alone time, I feel like a new person!"
"When I get home from work, I go for a run. It's a daily commitment that I have made to myself, and I feel amazing after. Rarely does work creep into my mind but when it does, I remind myself that this is my time to focus on my wellness."
"The hours of my current job are a bit random which can make it challenging to find a balance. If I am working a 12 or 14 hour day, for instance, I will commit to having a nice lunch to myself in the middle of the day. I mean, a nice, sit-down, healthy meal in a place with good ambiance. I am a foodie in my personal life so sometimes bringing that element to a busy day will put an extra skip in my step."
"It has been said that, in sales, you are always 'on.' I try to avoid this type of burnout by turning the email off on my phone when I am getting ready in the morning, and one hour before I go to bed at night. This type of boundary helps me to create a balance. I sleep better this way and perform better the following day."
"As an educator, I often bring my work home with me. This work could include marking, assessments, or reporting. To stay balanced, even during these busy times, I like to cook and do yoga. I will take breaks in between my work so that I do not feel tired or burnt out while marking. It's important to find a good balance so that my patience level is at its peak the following day."
This question offers a unique opportunity for you to start a great conversation surrounding your favorite books and other resources about your industry or job title. Once you have offered up your favorite book on leadership and business, be sure to ask the interviewer for theirs in return. This question offers an opportunity to gain a new resource for yourself!
"I am a huge fan of 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins. The premise of the book is to determine why some companies make it, and others do not. It taught me a lot about avoiding mediocre and creating a great organization. Have you read it?"
"Hands down, my favorite book is 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen Covey I have incorporated many of the suggestions in this book, and my productivity went through the roof. I love to read and would like to know - what is your favorite business-related book?"
"Have you ever read 'The Five Dysfunctions of a Team' by Patrick Lencioni? It's a business book that talks about potential pitfalls in teambuilding, and how to avoid them. It's an older read, but still very relevant."
"The book, ' First, Break All the Rules' is for sure my favorite read. It's by Marcus Buckingham, and he talks about solutions for employee engagement. I would love to hear any recommendations that you have as well!"
"I used to work in a bookstore and have read hundreds of books, many related to sales, retail sales, business, and customer service. If I had to choose one favorite book, I would say it is 'To Sell I Human' by Daniel Pink. He describes everyone as a 'seller' which changed my perspective as a customer sales rep many years ago and - today, changes how I train my employees."
"In my opinion, the best book I have ever read is 'What Great Salespeople Do' by Michael Bosworth and Ben Zoldan. The book teaches about building effective relationships by creating a very effective sales story. It's a must-read in my opinion. Do you have any must-reads to recommend?"
"As you are aware, teachers have many amazing resources when it comes to books about the classroom. I love reading and will almost always have a professional development book in hand. My favorite read as of late is 'Make it Stick' by Peter Currell Brown. He discusses techniques for creating more productive learners, best study habits, and hands-on methods to support your students."
Moral dilemmas do not disappear as you climb the ranks of an organization or your industry. In fact, they can become even more complicated. This hypothetical question is a blend of behavioral and honesty based. If you have ever been asked by your board, or senior leadership team, to take part in something that you were not comfortable with, you can use this real-life example. Be sure to avoid speaking poorly of anyone, or naming names. You want to remain professional and trustworthy.
"In a previous role I was asked to fabricate some numbers for a stakeholder meeting. As an accountant that is entirely against my code. I expressed my disinterest in doing so, but remained professional, hoping that I had somehow misinterpreted the ask. I left the organization shortly after. It's important to me that I fully trust the company for which I am working."
"I was often asked to cancel and reschedule appointments on behalf of the executive who I supported. This request came to me often, and to the point where the executive appeared very unprofessional and disorganized. I did as I was asked, of course, but I also asked the executive at one point what I could do to support him better to avoid the reschedules."
"My reaction would depend on my reason for disagreeing, I suppose. If I were asked to do something illegal I would certainly not comply. If I were simply uncomfortable with the task, due to lack of knowledge, I would take the time to learn what I needed to, to deliver on expectations."
"I will never sacrifice my integrity for the sake of a job but, at the same time, I realize that I may not always agree with the direction that my company is taking, and that is completely okay. Let's say that I receive direction from a client account that I do not particularly like. I will challenge the thought process appropriately while hoping to find a middle ground. I want to deliver work that I am proud of but also understand that I am not the owner of the company."
"I receive direction from my corporate head office quite often with which I do not necessarily agree. This instruction may include the new direction of a collection, merchandising suggestions, or the termination of an employee. I do my job well and do not make a fuss unless there is a good reason. In those instances, I ask the right questions and never make accusations. I seek to understand before concluding."
"Communication, in my opinion, drives the difference between a great negotiation and making a fool of yourself. I am wise enough to know that the leaders of my company have a good reason for their decisions. If I do not agree, I am perhaps misunderstanding. I always go for clarification first."
"As an educator, it can be very frustrating to see decisions made based on money, and not necessarily in the best interest of your students. When these circumstances arise, I will naturally comply and then make the best of the situation in my classroom setting, where I may have more control."