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Have you ever had to give an employee a poor performance review? How did you feel about that responsibility?

1 of 30 Leadership Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on August 5th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
How to Answer

The interviewer wants to know how you react to uncomfortable tasks and awkward conversations. No matter how seasoned a leader you are, it is never fun to deliver a poor performance review. Highlight to the interviewer that you are confident in your professionalism and communication skills, that you are capable of challenging conversations, and that you can give helpful feedback while providing important mentorship to your team.

If you do not have experience with performance reviews, it is okay! Tell the interviewer that you have never been in a role where you needed to give a formal performance review, but you look forward to learning the process. Add an example of a time when you provided someone with constructive feedback instead. This example can be in the workplace, school, or maybe even on a sports team. Discuss how you ensured that you did not humiliate the individual but that you discretely pulled them aside to have the conversation. Finally, be sure to mention that the person continued to have a healthy relationship with you following the discussion. This fact will highlight that you handled the situation professionally.

Professional Answer Examples
Answer example

"A large part of my role is to give monthly performance reviews to my team of 13 employees. When I need to deliver a poor review, the employee is already aware that I will be looking for improvement in their performance. This awareness is because I stay in close contact with all of my employees on their monthly progress."

Answer example

"Yes, I have had to give critical employee reviews to temporary associates before. It is a task that I do no love doing but can do it."

Answer example

" When I deliver an unsavory review, I act as a mentor and ask the employee to work with me on a performance plan. I never want anyone to feel like they are on the verge of being fired because that never improves an employees performance. I want them to feel like they are part of an important collaboration."

Answer example

"I haven't had to give any employee reviews in a management capacity, but when I left one role, it was in large part due to the poor management. That said, I did sit down with the CEO before I left and gave him candid feedback about the VP of Sales that no one else was going to provide while still working for the company. It was indeed uncomfortable, but it was valuable feedback to give to him, and he made company decisions based off of it."

Answer example

"Performance reviews were handled by my manager. However, I did give employees warnings and write-ups for performance failures. I felt that I was doing them a service by helping them see what they needed to do to improve."

Answer example

"When giving an employee review, if possible, I start by asking them to assess their performance. Almost without fail, they will point out the shortcoming that I am noticing, and we then can have a positive brainstorming session about it together, rather than feeling like I am reprimanding them."

Answer example

"I give student reviews all the time, even aside from report card time. I am comfortable giving constructive feedback in any situation; however, I have never critiqued a fellow teacher."

Written by:

Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career. Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise. Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 12/08/2015
Last modified on: 08/05/2018

More Interview Questions

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Have you ever had to give an employee a poor performance review? How did you feel about that responsibility?
I had to give an employee a poor performance when they did not follow the procedures and it cost the department.
One employee had will issue in performing so had to give him about is poor performance review, made him understand to improve on it. He understood the information and improved his performance.
I had a student worker who was late to work almost every day. She had a lot of health issues and family problems, but her work ethic suffered and became worse over time. I had to have a difficult discussion with her about being late regardless of situations at home. I am an empathetic person and felt bad, but knew that our university was being affected by her lack of effort.
I generally will give a poor performance review if the employee has demonstrated that they deserve this. For instance, as a nurse manager, I would review the overall performance, then I would look to see if they had any coaching sessions and determine from there if they either made improvements or it needed to be addressed in the performance review.
When they're constantly late with a bad attitude.
When they don't follow company policies and steal stuff.
Turn the negative issue into positive way of telling so that it doesn't discourage them.
An employee entered the store for her shift under the influence. It was the first time in my management career to have to do a write up. It involved myself, an interrogation with the employee, and the district manager.
When they had multiple call in or no show to a shift. When the repeatedly had medication errors. When they have violated policy and procedure.
With all the help, employee is still under achieving than I will give it.
Well I guess when the owner called and was checking on the employees and I had to tell her how one of the guys was acting and I have had a talk with him, but he's still doing it.
When they could not do the job properly, keep up w/ responsibilities of the job.
I have not had this experience yet. I have not had this experience yet.
I haven't given a poor performance review that is excceptionally bad, if I see an employee who is not performing as epected, I deal with it before it gets to the performance review stage where possible. I have had a situation where I did give a review that was a could do better. Our administration supervisor was ....
Midway through my career I was asked to evaluate an associate who worked in my classroom and also had other duties throughout the building. My evaluation was to be coupled with the principals. At that time I was not a trained evaluator, thus this was more of a "peer" evaluation. I approached it through a coaching lense. I began the evaluation by asking her what she liked about her job and those things that were not on her favorite list. It was easy for her to share her favorite things. Then she began to talk about the things that were more difficult for her. She talked about how it was hard to maintain her patience at recess, and of how the children were always tattling. I asked her to explain how she was feeling and what her reactions were. We looked at the evaluation instrument - a survey type together. I asked her how she would rate this area. We discussed why she thought that way. I asked her what she thought she could do to improve in that area. We noted it. Then I asked her how I could assist her with her improvement. We also noted that. I was impressed with her candor and willingness to make suggestions for improvement. We made an agreement to try her ideas for a couple of weeks and touch base again.
When the employee was not able to perform the job and lines of being ethical were crossed.
Basic requirement, skill, quality stand not met by employee.
No. I have tried to look at the performance review as an opportunity to find the staff members strengths, so they can work on their performance and consolidate their training.
In training and supervising staff, I have often had to give direct and corrective feedback which requires being direct but supportive.
This is not applicable to my practice.
I have observed lessons and teaching of my team members in the past, where we were required to give them feedback on their practice. It was informal, but meant to provide them with insight so that when the "real" evaluation came, they'd be better prepared and know what to expect. This teacher was up for evaluation for their continuous contract, and the lesson they planned for the evaluation was perhaps not their best choice to showcase their abilities and creativity. They tried to take on too much and in doing-so, the authenticity backfired.
Employee did not follow the proper procedures in performing a task and in cost the department.
Their customer service created a negative environment. I had to discuss the issues and use problem resolution to salvage the concern.
Sometimes, a partner is just a bad lay.
When an employee had communication with a referral that presented a negative review. I was informed by a referral source, they didn't want to work with anyone else but me, because the person was kind, but didn't make things easy. Knowing that our communication as a team required support from all of us, I presented them with the problem. I asked the employee how they wanted to resolve the issue. The outcome turned out positive, as she expressed concern and wanted to apologize to the referral source. The employee salvaged the relationship.
Last year on annual reviews.
I would say after failing to reach performance goals set, being given the assistance needed, and a provision of performance feed back.
In remote locations wherein employee takes things like and makes unnecessary excuses in terms of reporting.
When I worked for the LAPD, another officer that I never liked.
You have to provide feedback before you conduct a review. As such. You would have warned the individual of the outcome if there's no change.
Whenever they do not preformed as how they should.
When not hitting targets.
If he do the same low quality of work every time he go filed that he harmful the others.
A long time ago I had to give a performance review of a teaching associate. I began by asking the associate how things were going? She mentioned struggles that she was having, especially on the playground. We talked about how she was handling these situations and brainstormed other ways she could have handled them. We filled out the performance review together. We made notes as to what steps she planned to make for improvement and set up a time to meet again in a few weeks. Since she worked with my classroom I was asked to do this - and then meet with my principal. (We follow a coaching model in our school)
Yes, and a strategy I have employed to be more receptive is to praise their strengths first. Identify the things they do very well and their impact on the team, then transition easily into where the areas are to grow for them from my perspective, and ask if what they think about my observations.
There was one who repeated mistakes after given enough training.
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