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Have you ever had to fire someone? Describe the circumstances?

The answer to this question has to be made in an emotional and empathetic manner. If you answer the question in an authoritarian, domineering, "the-SOBs-deserved-it" fashion, you won't be respected. A confident but empathetic answer along the line of, "Firing people is one of the most difficult tasks that a manager has. But I've found that if one does it in a very careful, well documented, reasonable, businesslike manner, although uncomfortable for both parties, it could be done very gracefully." You then might add a short story of a circumstance where you had to fire someone. Basically, you ought to communicate that it was unfortunate but it had to be done and you did in a very graceful manner.

What kind of people have you hired and what you look for in those people?

If you have been involved in the hiring process, you want to describe the kind of people that you've hired. You want to be sure that you lay out a thoughtful, reasonable business approach to hiring someone. Describe a process as well as a description of how the process had been successful.

Describe a major project that you have worked on and how it contributed to the overall good of your employer.

If you have been involved in doing a major project, simply be ready to describe that project in relative detail. Describe your role, how it interfaced with the roles of other people, and how successful the project turned out.

Have you ever been involved in long-range planning?

If you have, simply explain how you were involved. Do not claim that you were involved in long-range planning unless you really were because you may very well be asked about your contribution, and your credibility will be questioned if you can't speak about what you did.

What percentage of your week or month was devoted to the different functions of your job?

You won't get this question very often, but it doesn't hurt to have an idea of the percentage of time devoted to all of the activities of your job. If you answer this broad statement like "I did it until it got done," you won't seem like a disciplined person.

Can you work overtime or on weekends?

On the one hand, you have to appear to be the kind who will do what ever it takes to get the job done. On the other hand, you don't want to be the kind of employee who has to work nights and weekends simply to get all work done at the minimal level. So, the answer to this question is, "I'll do whatever it takes to get to work done. I have found over my career that since I am a diligent worker, focused on the task at hand and not wasting time with unproductive cohorts, I therefore get more work done in a lot less time than most. I'll work evenings and weekends if I have to, but that hasn't been necessary in the past."

How long do you think it will take for you to make a meaningful contribution to our organization?

This is somewhat of a loaded question. If you "guess" for too long a period of time, you don't look confident, and if you "guess" a shorter period of time than is real, then you look foolish. So, the best answer should be something along the line of, "In my present job, I began to make a significant contribution almost immediately. The nature of the work was such that I could go right in and immediately have an impact. It was really fun. In the job before that, because of the nature of what the company did, it took me five or six months to have a significant impact. All the people whom I have ever worked with have always said that I'm a quick study and pick things up very quickly. It's hard to speculate about how fast I can meaningfully contribute until I get into a job and get to know. I can assure you, though, that I will run as fast as I can. I realize that I or anyone else is hired to contribute as fast as possible."

 
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