Over the last few months, we’ve been discussing interview questions that are particularly tricky – most recently “Why did you leave your last job?” When it comes to interview questions, though, it doesn’t get much tougher than: “Why were you fired from your last job?” The good news is that if you’re asked this question, your prospective employer thinks you could still be a worthy candidate – despite your previous termination. So how do you deal with the elephant in the room?
A good answer to “Why were you fired?” must, first and foremost, be honest. Your interviewer needs to know you didn’t commit any acts that were so grievous they would make you effectively unhireable. (Think criminal or dangerous activities.) But beyond that, they need to know you’re willing to speak about yourself honestly – even when it’s uncomfortable. They’re also wanting to know you can take responsibility for mistakes. Just make sure you’re totally forthcoming when discussing your departure from your last job, because that employer can legally disclose that you were, in fact, fired. And depending on the cause, they can reveal why, too.
Of course, if the reason you were let go wasn’t your fault, let the interviewer know that as well. Layoffs are a reality in any job market.
Rest assured your interviewer is as eager to move past this difficult question as you are. As long as you’re honest, there’s no need to dwell on the reasons you were let go. Be direct and respectful, and avoid the temptation to bash your former employer.
This is where you can turn lemons to lemonade. Sure, the interviewer wants to know why you were fired from your last job, but just as importantly, they want to know how you handled a serious setback. What did you learn from the experience? What changes have you made to address any problems that led to your termination?
Examples of Good Answers
“My boss and I agreed that moving on was best for both of us.” This implies that even in a negative situation, you’re capable of positive communication.
“The company was moving in a new direction, and my role was phased out.” There are a number of ways to say you were laid off. This variation shows you know how business works.
“I took the wrong job at the wrong time.” It happens to almost every worker eventually – they take a position because they need the money, only to realize the position is a bad fit. A candid answer like this shouldn’t reflect badly on you, particularly if it’s not part of a pattern of job jumping.
Mega Force Can Help You Take the Next Step
If you’re looking to turn the page on your work history, Mega Force can help. Our agency works to match job seekers in Wilson with employers who are eager for new talent. Get started here.