So you’ve got yourself a job interview. First off, congratulations! Secondly, don’t panic.
Telling the hiring manager about your past job termination seems like something that you’d want to avoid at all costs, and in a way, you’re correct in thinking that, but what happens if your interviewer asks about your old job and why you left?
Before we begin, let me get something straight.
If your interviewer doesn’t ask about your previous job, then there’s no need to bring up. You still want to look like the best candidate for the job, and talking about why you got fired when your interviewer didn’t ask may seem like you’ve got a bone to pick.
However, your work history is there to see on your resume, so if the hiring manager does ask, it’s best to have a response ready for that possibility. Don’t try to lie about it. It’s best to come clean about what happened with your previous job than to hide it. Remember that your interviewer can reference check and find out what happened through your old employer. Also understand that you aren’t alone here; there are plenty of job seekers who have been in this situation before and have been successful. So, if you’re feeling unsure on where to get started, here are some tips to get you prepared.
3 Things to Consider When Telling Your Interviewer You’ve Been Fired
1. Focus on the facts, not emotions
When your interviewer asks about why you left your job, tell them about how you were let go, and explain the situation. Talk evenly, and avoid bad mouthing at all costs. That will only show your interviewer that you hold grudges, not to mention, you will seem childish. No one wants to hire someone who doesn’t have any control over their emotions.
Your explanation should be honest and short. Your potential employers appreciate it. If you’re not entirely sure why exactly you were fired, ask your previous employer for the exact reason. That way, you can model your answer around this. Don’t ramble on, as it will place too much focus on your termination, and not the qualities that the interviewer is looking for.
It’s best to practice your response beforehand – with family, friends, or in front of a mirror – if you’re nervous about not getting it right. If you still feel too emotional, then hold yourself back from your job search for the time being. It’s better to take some time to calm yourself down and feel comfortable with what happened than to reveal your bitterness towards your old employer.
2. Shine a positive light on your termination
But you just told me to tell the truth! Yes, but the way you word it is essential. Instead of saying that you were fired, say that you were ‘let go’. This softens the blow a bit. An example of what you could say is that you and your boss realised that you weren’t a good fit for the company. This could be because your skills and overall personality did not match your company’s environment.
Of course, every situation is different, and this may or may not fit. But no matter what the reasons are, refer to your experience at your old job as a learning curve. For example, if you were terminated because you weren’t a ‘team player’, then you could say that you now understand the importance of cooperating with others. More often than not, these ‘failures’ are a springboard for success if you learn from it. Make sure this is the emphasis here.
Tell your interviewer that these errors will not be repeated. If they press you further, and you have the evidence to back it up, refer to your previous history and let them know that this was only a one-off incident. I would recommend you review your references before your interview, or better yet, before looking for your new job. That way, you can ensure that you can support your credibility.
3. Once you’ve finished explaining, move on
Tie your answer to why you believe this new opportunity will work out for you. In other words, wrap it up by saying something like, ‘I really would like to challenge myself, and apply what I’ve learned to this opportunity’ or ‘I take responsibility for my actions, and I know what to do now if a similar situation comes up. Would you like to hear about my new plan of action?’ Asking questions can be a useful segue if you’re stuck for ideas.
In short, remind your interviewer of your qualifications and overall enthusiasm for the job. In a way, this shows your prospective employer that you focus on the future, further strengthening your chances of becoming an employee.
Once that’s over, the interview should go as normal. If you’re looking for more information on what kind of interview questions there will be and how you should answer them, along with more career advice, explore our guide to interview questions and answers.
Other than that, you should be good. See you on the other side.
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