Anyone who has ever been fired knows it’s hard to talk about it with friends and family. Now, imagine how difficult it would be discussing it during a job interview.
However, you will be asked about this by an interviewer, so you need to be prepared for the questions. It might be uncomfortable, but you can’t hide from it. Knowing how to handle the questions can make the difference between getting hired and being passed over.
Here are a few things to consider:
Keep your answer short and to the point.
Avoid going into a long-winded explanation of why you were let go. The interviewer wants to know you weren’t fired for some egregious misbehavior, such as fighting or stealing, but beyond that, there is no need to go into the details.
Be honest about the reasons for your dismissal. If you give a different reason for leaving your job, your previous employer could disclose the real circumstances during a reference check. Any dishonesty during the hiring process could result in not getting an offer or having it withdrawn after it was already made. Depending on why you were terminated from your last job, you could even be fired from your new job for lying.
Two examples of answers that work well:
1. “I needed a job desperately and accepted one without research or forethought. It was a mistake I won’t make again. I’m now looking for an environment that is friendly, organized, and team-oriented. I want a position where I can use my talents and make a contribution.”
Almost every hiring manager can relate to someone who took a job that wasn’t the right fit. The answer shows you have learned from the experience and are ready to move forward.
2. “The job wasn’t working out, so my manager and I talked about it and agreed that it was time for me to move on to a role that would show better results for both of us. So here I am, eager for a fresh start.”
This reply indicates you had constructive communication with your former boss. It also shows you have no bitter feelings toward the company. It comes across as both honest and positive.
Suggestions for answering these questions.
Rehearse your answers until you are comfortable talking about your dismissal. Your preparation will help you overcome any feelings of shame and allow you—and the interviewer—to feel more at ease about the topic.
Remember, keep it brief. You want to be upfront and honest in your response, but there’s no reason to dwell on it. Move on to your skills and experiences. Then compare them to the qualifications that are listed on the job description.
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