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Job interview questions to weed out bad managers

I’m the recruitment manager of a medium-sized corporation. For the past year, we made a series of wrong hiring decisions that caused resignations and a decline in the morale of newly-hired supervisors and managers. It turned out that there was no good fit for these new hires. Last week, you wrote about how job applicants may handle difficult and stressful job interviews. Can you help us design a list of killer interview questions for management applicants? We plan to share the list to our department heads. Thank you in advance. -- Cheat Sheet.

How to handle difficult job interview questions

I was interviewed for the vacant post of vice president by the CEO of a major company. My experience with him was disappointing after he asked the following questions: “Describe a stressful work condition with your past or current employer. How were you able to handle it? What would you do if you found out that a colleague is stealing millions from the company? Would you play politics with a colleague asking for your favor so that he can use a company vacation house for a week despite a policy against it? Would you agree to be imprisoned for avoiding taxes in favor of the company? Would you be willing to answer my phone calls at two in the morning? How would you feel if top management takes credit for your work?” Imagine answering around 15 of these questions for close to two hours. What’s your take on this? Are these questions relevant to the job? (italz end) -- Stressed Out.

What’s wrong with the perfect attendance award?

We have an absenteeism rate of 21% and a tardiness rate of 7% across all departments covering more than 650 workers. This puts a lot of stress on the workers who must take up the slack and be paid overtime premium. To correct this problem, we’re planning to offer a perfect attendance award that allows qualified workers to join the monthly raffle for home appliances worth about P15,000, which is a small amount compared to what we’re losing due to the poor attendance of our employees. What’s your view on this proposal? -- Vietnam Rose.

Dealing with a skeptical boss and colleagues

I was hired four months ago to handle the human resource department of an upstart restaurant business. During this period, I’ve tackled many challenges...

Background investigations for new workers

Usually, we hire our workers through manpower agencies that give us employees who are supposed to be screened, trained and qualified prior to deployment. However, there have been instances in which were sent people with falsified clearances. We ended up blacklisting some manpower agencies. Do we need to conduct another round of background investigations to ensure that we get the right people? (itals end) -- Vietnam Rose.

Whose responsibility is job description writing?

We are planning to conduct a job evaluation program, but we can’t afford an external consultant to help us. Our CEO suggests that the project be done by our human resource department. The trouble is that we have more than 130 jobs in the organization and revising them all would take up a lot of HR’s time. My question is: Whose job is it to write and revise the job description -- the HR manager or the line managers who are expected to know what’s best for their respective departments? -- Blue Wave.

One-over-one line management approval

We’re thinking of raising the empowerment level of our people managers to decongest and simplify our administrative work processes and improve our labor productivity at the same time. One department manager suggests that we consider the “one-over-one” approval of employee leaves, work schedules, and other related matters. What do you think? What are the things that we should consider to make such change successful? -- Yellow Submarine.

How to prove that a department is overstaffed

I am the general manager of a manufacturing plant with 300 plus workers. How can you prove to the satisfaction of all concerned that a department, section, or corporate unit is overstaffed, with both regular and “endo” workers? What’s the best way to increase labor productivity so that we can justify the employment of people in an organization? Please advise us. -- Pink Rose

Having an overstaffed work force without knowing it

I’m the owner of a fast-growing restaurant business. We opened our third branch last year and we’re looking forward to having seven branches this year. That’s why we keep on hiring new workers from all sources just to fill the vacancies as demanded by each branch. Now, each branch is averaging more than 30 workers each, including the chefs, cashier, and branch head. And yet, our overhead expenses have also increased due to overtime payments made to people who are forced to work as many as 16 hours a day, which to me is impossible to do. I can’t understand what’s happening; no matter how we increase the number of workers for each branch, we still encounter excessive overtime work and other manpower-related expenses for each branch. Could you please tell us what’s wrong? -- Losing It.

Manager seeks mercy for a dishonest worker

A department manager went directly to our CEO to ask for forgiveness for his worker who was caught in an act of dishonesty, a grave offense. After being given due process, the worker was found to have violated company policy and a penalty of dismissal was handed down by the Human Resources and a Management Committee (Mancom) composed of other department managers. The CEO consulted the HR Head who advised him about the repercussions of a decision favoring the worker whose wife is suffering from cancer. Also, the Mancom was displeased to find that it spent much time deliberating the case only for the decision to be reversed. I am concerned that the incident will set a bad precedent. What can we do about it? -- Danny Dilemma.

When managers are forced to do overtime work

I’m a manager of a small manufacturing plant in Cavite. The managers’ regular work schedule is Monday to Friday. My problem is with our CEO who released a new policy requiring all managers to perform overtime work during Saturdays and holidays. All managers are assigned to work alternatively as factory officer-in-charge to supervise our two shifts -- 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The trouble is that we are not being paid any overtime premium or cash allowance as the CEO insists that our salary covers everything. He says the disturbance is not much as the manager’s schedule is rotated every six weeks. Despite this, many managers feel it’s not right to change the rules in the middle of the game. Could you please comment on this? -- Feeling Trapped.

Why some managers are impotent on money matters

I’m a department manager for a major corporation that has averaged P700 million in net revenue in the past five years. What I cannot understand is that all managers are not allowed to make any independent decisions on disbursements as small as P500 for a single transaction. Our decisions on money matters are treated only as recommendations that need the approval of a high-ranking officer, like our vice president. On the other hand, my wife who works for a small corporation has the final authority to sign for as much as P100,000 provided that such expense is covered by a budget. Can you please enlighten me on this? – Pathetically Sad.

Supervisor refuses to dismiss an erring worker

I’m the human resource manager of a small restaurant business. Our problem is the competence of our supervisors, in particular the case of Supervisor Dave (not his real name) who has a direct report who was found to have committed a serious offense. The same policy requires that the violator be dismissed after due process. However, Dave refuses to initiate disciplinary proceedings. Instead, he claims that the job belongs to the HR department. Of course, having read many of your articles, I know that employee discipline is the job of line supervisors and not HR, a management staff department. How do we coerce Dave and other similarly-situated supervisors to do their job? -- Exasperated.

Writing a new code of conduct from the ground up

We would like to establish an employee disciplinary policy for our new restaurant. We are growing fast with employees being hired left and right. The trouble is that, employee discipline issues have also increased. It ranges from habitual absences and tardiness to estafa and theft. Now, we have learned our lesson for starting out without any employee policy. Anyway, how do we start from scratch? -- Needing Guidance.

How to reject the boss’s crazy ideas

I have a young boss who is the son-in-law of the owner. He was appointed two months ago. During that time, he would flex his muscles by giving instructions that are either vague, illegal, or sometimes downright stupid. I love my company and I don’t have any plans of moving out. Please advise me on what to do. -- Perplexed.

HR must not handle employee discipline

Our Human Resource department is saddled with many employee disciplinary issues that include issuing warning notices to personally handing out dismissal letters. This consumes 70% of HR’s time, leaving it too emotionally stressed out to do other things for more than 1,500 workers. Is it the right approach? Is there a better way? -- Yellow Submarine.

What to do with a worker’s red circle pay

I have two non-management employees who are receiving salaries which are a bit higher than what a junior supervisor gets. This is due to the workers’ length of service and the annual across-the-board pay increases under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The trouble is that our human resource department is dragging its feet on our repeated requests in correcting the injustice. What’s the best solution for this? -- Doing their Job.

Alternatives to a team-building program

Many of our department managers are in conflict with one another due to miscommunication. This prevents us from creating a highly-coordinated management team. Our human resource department recommends that we undergo a team-building workshop with the help of an external facilitator. It includes a weekend trip to a resort in Tagaytay where we can unwind from the stress, listen to inspiring stories, enjoy games, and relax, while attempting to heal our internal conflicts. Is team-building the correct approach for us? -- Questioning.

Management protocols for employee resignations

I was surprised and a bit disappointed when informed of the resignation of my hardworking assistant who has been my executive support for the past 10 years, who joined the company immediately after his college graduation. I thought he was satisfied with the company and our work relationship even though he was not given a chance to advance his career advancement due to certain company policies. It appears he was given a lucrative job offer that we find hard to match in our industry. I’m ready to lose him, but what can I do to make everything smooth for the transition? – Flabbergasted.

Kaizen proposal for a dictator-manager

My boss is a jerk who doesn’t listen to employee suggestions. He often jokes: “My way or the highway.” I know that this approach makes the employees become demotivated, if not make them act like robots. As one of his managerial deputies in the department, I’m planning to establish a Kaizen program to help people come out with a structured system to help streamline our business operations and cut costs at the same time. I’m worried that even my idea would be dumped. What’s the best approach to convince our boss? – Worried Much.

Death threats against management

Two of our department managers who are actively engaged in negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the union have received death threats. The two managers are very vocal against the excessive demands of the union. What’s the best approach for management? -- Talking Tough.

Lying about your job title

I’m a manager at a major corporation planning to run for president of an industry association. Before I do so, I would like to ask the top management to allow me to use the title of ‘vice president’ to help me win votes. That’s because all current and past presidents of our association have been VPs at least. Of course, I’m not expecting any salary increase, but only the privilege of using a VP title at least for purposes of winning votes. If I win, my position will redound to the benefit of my company which is a manufacturer of consumer products. What do you think? (Itals end) -- Red Buddha.

Ten defenses against an incompetent boss

My boss tells us that we should not be yes-men by encouraging us to challenge his ideas. However, we feel that this is a ploy to hide his incompetence, allowing him to blame someone later on in case of a major blooper. What can I do to protect myself from his wicked ways? -- Overly Cautious.

What to do if a toxic boss shames you in public

I have a foul-mouthed boss who is the most hated manager in our department. He ridicules people in front of other workers and customers, even for minor mistakes, and uses four-letter words. I thought that because I am the only woman in the department, he would spare me, until yesterday when he bawled me out using sexist language in the presence of my colleagues. Please tell me what to do given the fact he’s a loyal, trustworthy, and nearly indispensable manager who is viewed favorably by top management. — Can’t Take It.

White lies in employee resignations

I would like to observe the 30-day advance notice rule when I file my resignation. The trouble is that my employer is known to delay even simple things like a clearance procedure. Many people who resigned before me got their clearance and pay after six months. Is this reasonable? What are the things that I should consider so that I can be cleared and secure my terminal pay at the soonest possible time without any hassle? — Very Worried.

Office politics: How to rock the boat gently

I’m the human resource manager of a medium-size factory. We’re having trouble in getting the cooperation of people to attend our management programs, including our in-house seminars. This is due to office politics between two department managers. When Manager “A” initiates a training program with the help of HR, almost always, we can expect that Manager “B” will not participate, even to the extent of prohibiting his workers from attending. When “B” organizes another program, we can always expect “A” to do the same thing. It happens all the time. In the meantime, the CEO who is about to retire, is content to bury his head in the sand. Is there a cure for this? — Yellow Submarine.

Five steps to convey bad news to workers

Did you hear the story of a young fellow who was fired from his job in a massage parlor because he rubbed people the wrong way? True, there is nothing certain but the uncertain. And your company changing ownership is a real crisis that you must carefully handle. The communication plan must therefore be allocated the proper attention and care for all stakeholders, including the workers who stand to lose their jobs in the process.

Six critical elements of new-employee onboarding

I’m the human resource department head of a medium-sized corporation. I read some time ago that you’re promoting the start of the orientation process...

Five barriers that complicate labor productivity

Despite overtime work, many of our workers miss their production quotas and deadlines to the absolute disappointment of management and our clients. What’s wrong with us? And how would you propose to solve our problem? -- Don’t Know.

Choosing the best workers to mentor others

We’d like to establish a peer-to-peer program to mentor our new and junior workers on the job as our line supervisors are fully occupied in their respective jobs. Could you please help us determine all the things to consider so that we can come out with an ideal mentoring program? – Very Specific.

How managers can defend hated company policies

I’m a department manager at a medium-sized factory. I’m sure you have also encountered stupid, if not unpopular management policies that people managers are obligated to uphold and protect from employee criticism. But how would you do it without sounding disloyal or irresponsible to the organization? -- Very Cautious.

Breaking gently the news of a factory closure

Our family-owned factory is losing money due to the high cost of maintaining its operations, including the salaries and benefits of the workers who are receiving double rate of the metro minimum wage. There’s no hope of survival as the workers’ pay package is increasing every year due to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the union. Finally, we have decided to close the factory. Now, how do we break the bad news to our employees? -- Yellow Submarine.

Three positive techniques for rejecting worker requests

Last week, I disapproved a request by my assistant for the purchase of a new laptop computer to replace a five-year old model. He claims the defective laptop contributes to delays and difficulties in doing his job. I told him to wait for next year as we don’t have a budget for it. In the meantime, I told him to use a desktop computer that is available for use by anyone in the department. Since then, he appears to be sending in defective reports, if not delaying submission. I’m not sure how I handled the rejection. But how do I handle similar situations in the future? -- Cooling Off.

How to handle anonymous complaints

We’ve been receiving many employee complaints against the management style of some line supervisors and managers. The trouble is that these grievances are passed on anonymously using the company’s suggestion boxes, which were installed to solicit ideas and not complaints. Are we missing something here? How do we manage those issues after all? — Quantum Losses.

Onboarding should be done during the job interview

We’re trying to improve our department’s capability in hiring given the high turnover rate of our new hires in the first year of their employment. We’d like to change our interviewing strategies to secure the best and the brightest workers and retain them for the longest time. What would you suggest? -- Something New.

The untold story behind ‘endo’ hiring

We’d like to hire more contractual workers to help us in our business operations. But we’re still weighing some things given the government’s crackdown against “endo” employment. Please help us make an intelligent decision. -- Doubting Thomas.

When a worker is promoted above his boss

Is it possible for an ordinary worker to be promoted ahead of his department supervisor or even the manager due to the former’s consistent above-average work performance? What are the implications? Is it advisable for top management to do this as a matter of routine? -- Looking Around.

Six factors to consider in case of job transfer

Transferring employees to another work assignment or location is a management prerogative. But management can’t simply argue that it has the absolute power to hire, transfer, or fire employees at whim, similar to what the old woman has done in our story.

Indicators of a failed hiring strategy

Let me tell you this. Instead of blaming HR, you should hold hands with it to ensure mutual accomplishment for the good of the organization. You should also discover and admit your fault as you have managed the new employee closer on the ground and longer than anyone else in the organization. HR may have done its job in screening the new hire, but it’s still you -- who has the ultimate decision to accept or reject any candidate in the shortlist.

Death threats from sacked workers? Here’s the cure

Our HR manager received a small package with a bullet inside. Clearly, it’s a death threat from a disgruntled worker who lost his job....

Rehiring resigned employees: Good or bad policy?

Our CEO wants HR to rehire a young manager who resigned to join another major corporation. This guy wants to re-join us after only...

7 basic rules for boss-subordinate relations

I’m a newly promoted supervisor tasked to manage 11 workers who used to be my co-workers in our department for the past five years....

Five strategies to use against a backstabbing boss

A close friend from another department told me about my boss who is in the habit of belittling my work with other people, including...

8 ways to handle workers bypassed for promotion

I have two senior workers who have been with us since the establishment of the company 15 years ago. They’re the average “yes” men...

5 questions that must be answered by a boss-jerk

My boss wants me to work hard on my job and gives result before his unilaterally imposed deadline. The trouble is that we’re doing...