How to answer the interview question, 'How would you fire someone?'

Photo Illustration/Bryce Churchill

Hiring an employee means trusting them to fire other employees. That's why hiring managers sometimes ask a counter-intuitive interview question: "How would you fire someone?"

This question is an opportunity to demonstrate your management style, ability to empathize and emotional intelligence. As part of Glassdoor's How to Answer the 50 Most Common Interview Questions series, they asked experts how to perfectly navigate tricky questions like these.

Before candidates jump into a logistical explanation of how they would fire someone, Aurora Meneghello of Repurpose Your Purpose recommends "first sharing the steps [you'd] take to not get to the point of firing someone."

This allows you to demonstrate how you would be a communicative manager who helps develop talent instead of firing trainable employees. Show that you'd never take firing someone lightly — even if it is hypothetical.

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Once all other options have been exhausted and it's clear that someone's employment needs to be terminated, interviewers should demonstrate that they are able to communicate bad news clearly, professionally and sensitively.

Nicole Wood, CEO and co-founder of career coaching firm Ama La Vida, tells Glassdoor that job applicants should "show that [they] would be capable of delivering the news in a calm, empathetic but matter-of-fact manner."

Finally, make it clear that you have the emotional intelligence to let someone down softly and the strength to handle the backlash that may follow. Employers, Wood says, "want to ensure you have the soft skills to provide the news as nicely as possible and the grit to handle whatever reaction may arise."

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