How you handle dishonesty?

The answer is real simple: You simply don't! Don't try to equivocate the definition of dishonesty. You simply don't tolerate dishonesty.

Tell me about a situation where you were disappointed in your own performance.

Be ready for this question with the story about how you're disappointed in yourself and the way you or your team performed. Don't go on and on about how obsessed and disappointed you were. State the situation, and you might add that it was offset by a positive situation later on down the line and that you learned a lot from the experience.

Give me an example of a new or innovative idea that you came up with or implemented.

This is another chance to tell a story. Just be ready for this question. The last thing you want to do is to hesitate and have to think about the answer.

Do you communicate best with written or oral communications?

"I seem to do well with either one."

What are people's greatest misperceptions about you?

Think for a moment and pause. Come up with something that is relatively safe, something along the line of, "Well, sometimes it may appear that I take things seriously and come across as not having a sense of humor." Or something like, "I sometimes might appear to be a workaholic and have high expectations of others."

Tell me about a time when you had to "get your hands dirty" by doing a job that was one or two steps below you.

Just be aware that this kind of question is going to come, so have a story ready. Play up that, as a manager, you're there to lead the team and so nothing is really "below" you because you're there to make sure the job gets done.

As a manager, how have you promoted diversity?

You need to have a story or two about how you promoted diversity.

How much do you know about the duties or responsibilities of the managers or superiors two levels below you?

You'd better have an answer that communicates that you know very well what the managers two levels below you do. If you've been in one of those positions before and got promoted out of it, you'll want to communicate that. Just be sure you are not caught off guard and act like you have no idea what goes on in those levels.

You have moved up in the management ladder rapidly, but it seems like you've leveled off. Why?

Simple answer: "There are a lot of very good people and managers in the company that I am presently with. They've been there for quite some time. Their seniority and quality are hard to beat. That is one of the major reasons that I am looking to change. On top of that, my personal growth and expansion is limited in my current position. So, when I add these two factors up, it is best for both me and the company I am presently with that I find a new job. If I'm not growing and reaching my potential, I'm not going to contribute well. It's mutually best for both of us that I leave."

How long would you expect to be at this position if you got it?

This can be a really tricky question. If you are leaving your present position because there is a "ceiling," you are communicating that you would do the same thing if you were to work at the place you are interviewing with. If you have changed jobs every year for the past two or three years, you are communicating even more "risk." So, you have to change the focus to talking about personal growth, both intellectual and professional.

Something like this would work: "Every time I have left any situation, it has been primarily because I was really limited. I am very patient and have explored every opportunity to the maximum. There was no personal growth in the situations, even after I gave it time. As long as I am growing personally, intellectually, and professionally, I am committed to staying as long as I can. I hate changing jobs and companies."

This is the case of a staged, contrived event. Both you and the interviewing authority know that the odds of your being at this job or this company three years from now is not very great. But, as I've mentioned elsewhere, people interview as though the job and the company were a "forever" relationship.

How you deal with disgruntled employees/subordinates?

Don't say that you've never had any disgruntled employees or subordinates. Every manager has, to a certain extent. Telling a story here would reinforce whatever you say. Stating something like, "Well, I've been fortunate enough to establish personal policies and procedures so that most all of my subordinates in the past know where I stand on certain issues. I have found that being consistent, even about things that everyone may not agree with, has been the first and best

'line of defense' that I have needed. Second, I have found that 90% of the time, simply listening to people, especially when they vent, dissipates most issues. In checking my references, you will find that I have always managed people that way. I have found that even the most disgruntled subordinate respects fairness."

How often have you had to fire someone?

The longer you have been in management, the more you've had to do this. So, tell the truth. If you've been in management a very short period of time and have never had to fire someone, you can communicate, "Fortunately, I've never had to fire anyone. I've been fortunate enough to create an atmosphere and environment where people who aren't going to make it or don't fit in leave before I have to fire them."

If you've been in management for any length of time and have had to fire people, you want to communicate something like, "It is one of the most difficult aspects of my job. But it has to be done from time to time. I've always been sure that the reasons that I have released people are well documented and objective, and that firing is never capricious or reactionary. I've always tried to communicate that letting them go is best for them and the environment of the company. Fortunately, although an unpleasant task, I've never had any significant repercussions in letting people go."

Have you ever doubted your decision about firing someone?

Don't appear wishy-washy in describing this kind of situation. Something along the line of, "Well, if there are doubts to begin with, I have tried to work the situation out with the person before I have had to fire him or her. But once I have let the person go, I can't afford to look back and doubt the decision. If it comes to the point where I have to let someone go, I'm sure of myself."

How This Affects You

A positive answer to the question of "Can you do the job?" in my opinion, accounts for only about 20% of the hiring decision. Most hiring authorities are going to tell you that it accounts for 60 or 70% of the hiring decision, and they will never admit to the fact that it is really only 20% of the decision.

However, having said that, it is the first 20% of the hiring decision. If you can't get over this threshold and convince hiring authorities that you are capable of doing the job, you will never get to the other basic questions.

The answers to "Can you do the job?" questions need to communicate confidence. You need to be ready for questions that you don't think about every day. Your management style, for instance, isn't something that you articulate on a daily basis. But in the interviewing situation, it needs to roll off your tongue as though you recite it daily.

The "Can you do the job?" questions are probably the most taken for granted by candidates. Most candidates, since they don't look for a job very often, think that they will have a very easy time answering these questions. Don't take for granted confident, competent answers. Practice, practice, practice!

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