The termination interview (Nugget # 2)


For the purposes of this nugget lets assume that we are not dealing with an employee covered by a collective agreement or other type of works agreement.

HRAskMe has personally conducted terminations and provided HR support on scores of others. We can say with absolute confidence that the termination interview will likely be one of the most stressful actions you will take as a manager. There’s just no getting around this reality. From our personal experience here are a few suggestions that might help you conduct the interview:

The termination interview should last only about two minutes or so. You are there to deliver one message clearly and respectfully. This is not the time for any kind of performance feedback or extensive rationalization.

Here’s a short script to illustrate our points: “Bob, You know we’ve noted significant issues with your performance and fit with this company. And we don’t see any potential to improve these issues. Therefore, we have taken the difficult decision to terminate your employment effective October 31. This decision was agreed by senior management and is final. In recognition of your service the company is prepared to offer you $XXXX.” And, that’s about all you should be prepared to say. We strongly suggest, if you are new to this, that you review your script with a senior HR adviser and employment lawyer.

Questions from the employee are likely to focus on two topics: a request for feedback (What did I do wrong?”) and hope for  reprieve (“Is this really final?” ” Isn’t there something I can do to improve and keep my job?”). Do not get trapped into any kind of lengthy response to either of these questions. Get back briefly and clearly to your main points: “Bob, this is not the time for feedback. The decision to terminate your employment is final.”

Ensure that you have the termination letter available and that you hand it to the employee as soon as you have completed the verbal message.

Implement your exit plan. Indicate to the employee that you acknowledge how difficult this is. Stand up. Tell the employee that you are going to invite the employment transition consultant or HR adviser to come into the room now. Leave.

Be respectful and be flexible. We do advise that the interview should be very focused and brief. Your tone and manner can still be respectful. There may be circumstances that might lead you to extend the conversation. You will have to learn how to read these. Do not however, let anything confuse the message.

The foregoing is not intended as legal advice.



Leave a Reply