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How to Talk About Being Fired During a Job Interview

How to Talk About Being Fired During a Job Interview

Were you fired from your last position? If so, you probably wonder how you can talk about it in a way that won’t kill your next interview. While it won’t necessarily be easy, you can do a few things to soften the blow of that inevitable question.

Things You Should Know

When an interviewer asks why you lost your last job, it’s more than just information gathering. They know it’s an uncomfortable topic. They’re looking to see how you handle it. It’s the same reason interviewers ask you to describe a challenging situation and the way you managed it.

There is a decent chance that your interviewer already knows some or all of the details of how you lost your last job. While local laws vary quite a bit from city to city and state to state, an old employer can give reasons for why you don’t work there anymore.

Takeaway: Never assume your interviewer doesn’t have all the facts at their disposal.

Never Lie

No matter how tempting it might feel in the moment, never lie to your interviewer. A company can withdraw job offers or fire you if it comes out that you lied on your resume or during the interview. Contacting former employers is a routine part of the interview process, so you never want to misrepresent how you left.

Instead, be upfront and objective about the situation. Don’t look for ways to shift blame or justify your actions. Stick with facts, rather than feelings or perceptions.

Takeaway: Even if you think you lost your job unfairly, an interview isn’t the place to talk about that problem.

Look for Ways to Reframe the Situation

There are good ways and bad ways to relate the facts. Here is an example of a bad way to talk about the facts:

“They fired me for gross insubordination.”

Here are two better way to relate the same facts:

“I wasn’t a good fit for the job and that created friction. I’m looking for a position where I can make a meaningful contribution in a positive way.”

“I didn’t understand the exact boundaries of my duties and overstepped my authority. I’m committed to understanding my role better in my next position.”

The second approach does two things. It shows you recognize what went wrong at your last job and that you want to avoid a similar situation.

Takeaway: You can be honest without shooting yourself in the foot.

Need Interview Help?

Looking for a new job after getting fired isn’t fun or easy, but it is a situation you can navigate. Be objective, honest and do your best to reframe the situation. Above all, remember that lots of people have bounced back from failures and had successful careers. Are you ready to jump back into the job market post-firing? Let GPS guide you to the right employers.


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