Interview Question That Made Me Go Hmmm

The other day, I was being interviewed for a leadership position. Everything was the standard questions, but one. This one particular question I had not be asked in the past. Drum roll! “Tell me about the last person that you fired.” After the interview was completed and I was sitting thinking about how things went, I focused back on that question. It was the first time I was asked that in all of the interviews I have ever had. Is this a “new” question to ask.

I wondered, why ask that?

  • Is there a problem with firing under-performers in the company?
  • Are leaders doing their job?
  • Or are they seeing if I can do it?

When I replayed my answer to the question. I started to understand the why better. I believe the company is looking for a leader that can do the difficult tasks as well as the more glamour tasks. When you terminate someone, it is something that needs to be done, but in no means is it something to look forward to. Let’s face it, there should be a lot of work to help coach and give the employee enough help to really perform, rather than terminate. We can just be Donald Trump and point our finger and say, “you’re fired.”

I wonder if someone answers that question with, “I have not ever fired an employee.” Is that the type of leader that you want? Raises a doubt in my mind.

Have you heard that question before? Would you use it in an interview with a potential leadership position? I can see some benefit to using it. You can hear how the situation was started, the performance management/coaching the person did leading up to being fired and the overall emotion of the person answering the question. You can see if the person is fair and really cares. At least, that is what I would want to hear.