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How to Explain you were Fired!

If you were fired from a recent job, you’re probably dreading being asked about it in an interview. Is there any way to tell the truth without killing your chances of getting the job? Fortunately, yes.

There are five keys to handling this well:

1)   First, before you can formulate a good answer for why you were fired, you need to be honest with yourself about what really happened.  Try to detach your ego from the firing and ask yourself what really went wrong.  Don’t feel defensive or ashamed; try to see it objectively.  Do you understand why your boss let you know?  Were you even partially at fault?  If you haven’t already, now is the time to take responsibility for what your role was in what happened, even if your employer was also at fault.  You need to get genuinely comfortable with this because when you’re comfortable with what happened, you’ll give an answer that will make your interviewer more comfortable too.

2)     Formulate an answer that speaks to how you ended up in that situation, what you’ve learned from it, and what you do differently now as a result.

3)     Make sure your answer is brief and to the point.  Most interviewers will only be looking for a couple of sentences and won’t expect you to present a detailed account.  Definitely no rambling or defensive diatribes.

4)     Practice your answer over and over out loud until you can say it calmly.  The interviewer is going to be paying a lot of attention to how you talk about it than the substance of your answer.  Do you seem bitter or angry about it?  Have you learned from the experience?  How has it changed the way you conduct business?  You want to really pay attention to how you deliver it.

5)  Don’t LIE.  If the employer uncovers the truth, it will destroy your creditability.  You will show much more integrity by owning up to it.

Here are some examples of what your answer might sound like:

“Actually, I was let go.  The workload was very high and I didn’t speak up about that soon enough.  I just tried to keep my head down and get it done.  This was not a realistic strategy and I ended up making some mistakes because of the volume.  It taught me a really valuable lesson about the need to communicate better when the workload is a problem and to figure out ways to make sure we’re on the same page about priorities if we’re in a triage mode.  Since then, I’ve put a real premium on keeping lines of communication open so that it never happens again.”


“You know, it was a bad fit. The role really required expertise in software design, which is definitely not my strength, and ultimately we agreed that it didn’t make sense for me.”


“I was fired, actually.  The job had a big sales component and I had a pretty bad sales number.  I realized from that experience that I just hate selling and I’m not good at it.  They made the right decision, and I realized pretty quickly how relieved I was by it.”


Remember that many people have been fired, and they’ve moved past it. Prepare in advance, follow the tips above and you should be able to put this to rest.


This article was written by:  Alison Green at usnews.com

Posted in: Blog

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