Question 4. It is impossible to please every staff member or client. Describe a time when you made an unpopular decision.
situation: As a result of a sluggish economy, Mohalden Track's bottom line had suffered a great deal. As the CFO, my recommendation was to cut staff. It was the first time in the company's history when we had to consider layoffs. I knew the board needed solid evidence before approving such a measure.
action: From my experience with the board, I knew that their decision to green-light the layoffs would hinge on the treatment of outgoing employees. As part of the proposal, I included a cost-benefit analysis of the downsizing effort; and I incorporated a generous severance package for the soon-to-be-displaced employees.
result: The board members listened intently, asked a lot of questions, and ultimately voted for the layoff cycle I suggested. The cuts revitalized company profits and 25 percent of the laid-off employees were rehired within the year.
Question 5. Recall a time when you were approached to take sides on an issue, but decided to stay neutral.
situation: There was a time when a supervisor complained about an employee's performance. After objectively reviewing her report, I came to the conclusion that most of the concerns were minor and that there was only one serious offense.
action: I advised the supervisor to let go of some of the points she may have found annoying but that did not break company policy. During our discussion, I emphasized how important it was for managers to focus on bigger issues and not get bogged down with details. In addition, I agreed to talk to the employee about her overall behavior, making sure I touched on the fact that the supervisor is entitled to manage the department to ensure productivity.
result: The performance concerns that required attention were resolved, without incident. For the remaining years that the employee was on staff, she was never again called into my office for a job-related problem.
Question 6. Tell me about a time when you came up with a way to increase output.
situation: At Medical Facility Associates, the percentage of invoices paid by carriers had decreased at an alarming rate.
action: As a course of action was to determine the root cause of this decrease. After a review of the records, it was evident that the billing coordinators needed training on handling the carrier's new policies. I called an emergency meeting that focused on two priorities: educating the staff on the health carrier's new codes and showing them how they could navigate the maze required to receive payment for patient procedures.
result: After the training, the billing coordinators resubmitted the invoices following the proper procedures, and the facility received payment with no further hiccups.
Question 7. Describe an occasion when you made a decision that could have had a negative impact on the company if not managed correctly.
obstacle: Blue Cosmetics' global popularity was at an all-time high. Domestic sales were through the roof, but internationally we were losing money, owing to badly negotiated business contracts overseas.
action: Since we could not continue to conduct business worldwide at a loss, I revisited the foreign currency agreements with our distributors, keeping in mind the current rate of inflation. This was a tricky proposition, because I had to convince the partners to accept new contract terms at a time when the existing agreements were still in effect. I leveraged my personal relationships to get each of the distributors, individually, to consent to the changes.
result: The renegotiations ran smoothly, and I was able to secure competitive contracts with our international business partners that met Blue Cosmetics' net and gross profit margins.