Why You Were Fired: Your Interview Answer

August 12th, 2013 | Articles, Interviewing, Job Search, Resume | No Comments »


How did your last job end? It’s a question that anyone who has been fired dreads hearing. Whatever the reason for your termination, the answer is never easy to discuss and can threaten to derail an otherwise positive interview. Yet people who have been fired find new work all the time. So, if you are looking to rejoin the workforce after being let go from your previous job, here are a few key points to keep in mind.

You aren’t the first to be fired

You may feel like a pariah, forever shunned from the workforce, but you are not the first person to carry all of your photos, knick-knacks, and personal effects out of the office in a cardboard box. The Bureau of Labor Statistics actually places you as one among millions of people every month. For example, if you were fired in June of 2013, you were one of about 1,474,000. So honestly, you’re not alone. Chances are that either your interviewer or someone he or she know has been fired at some point. So, you might just find an empathetic audience.

Be honest

Never lie about being fired: at some point, it will come back to haunt you. Many applications inquire about how your last job ended, so you have to be upfront about your employment status in a way that doesn’t sabotage your chances at an interview. When asked about why you left a previous job, keep your response succinct. Answers like “My job ended,” “I was terminated,” or “I can explain better in person,” are honest answers that don’t give an interviewer too much to disqualify you on in advance.

Don’t improvise your response

The answer for why you were fired should never be an impromptu undertaking. There can be powerful emotions tied to your termination and you never want to open a Pandora’s Box for the first time in a face-to-face interview. Always have a tactfully prepared response ready for that inevitable question. Moreover, present that response in advance to a family member or friend to gauge the effectiveness. That way, you can use this dry run as a way to catch mistakes that could otherwise waterlog your chances at success.

Stay positive

Even if you now consider your former employer or supervisor to be your mortal enemy, you need to remain civil when discussing him or her in an interview. No badmouthing and don’t otherwise bemoan your fate. Negativity can make your interviewer have second thoughts about giving you the job.

Talk about what you learned

Were you fired for focusing on personal things during work hours? Mention how you learned the value of staying focused. Were you fired because a coworker spread rumors about you to management? Mention how you learned the value of building unbreakable work relationships. If you can frame the reasons why you were fired as a learning opportunity, you can show that the experience wasn’t in vain.

The bottom line

When you are asked why you were fired, you don’t have to be frozen in place. If you prepare yourself, remain positive, and treat it like a learning experience, you can bounce back from termination into a new, more fulfilling job.

by James Walsh

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